Rocky Top sits atop CFP rankings; OSU, UGA, Clemson round out Top 4

by Jacob Fuller

Jacob Fuller, FISM News


The Tennessee Volunteers have weathered one of the nation’s toughest schedules so far this year without a blemish and now Rocky Top is sitting atop the only poll that really matters: the College Football Playoff rankings.

The College Football Playoff committee released its first rankings of the season Tuesday night. The Volunteers were joined in the coveted Top 4 by fellow undefeated powerhouses Ohio State (2), Georgia (3), and Clemson (4).

Michigan (8-0), Alabama (7-1), TCU (8-0), Oregon (7-1), USC (7-1), and LSU (6-2) rounded out the Top 10.

The Volunteers stood out from the crowd of undefeated teams with big wins over Pitt, Florida, No. 10 LSU, Kentucky, and — most impressively and memorably — No. 6 Alabama. If they’re going to finish the season undefeated, however, the Volunteers will likely have to win two more Top 10 matchups, including a rematch with Alabama if the two teams manage to win their respective divisions in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

The playoffs essentially start in the SEC this Saturday, as Tennessee travels to No. 3 Georgia for the 2:30 p.m. kickoff of the game that will almost certainly decide the SEC East champion, as both undefeated teams have relatively easy conference opponents left after the matchup.

No. 6 Alabama heads to No. 10 LSU for what could be the deciding game in the SEC West. The winner will sit atop the division with a 5-1 conference record and essentially a two-game lead over the loser, considering the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the Crimson Tide top LSU, they’ll get just seven days of rest before yet another battle for the division lead as they head to No. 11 Ole Miss (8-1, 4-1) on Nov. 12.

No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan will likely determine the Big Ten Conference’s representative in the playoff when they go head-to-head on Nov. 26. Depending on what happens in the other major conferences, it’s entirely possible — though not the most likely scenario — that both Ohio State and Michigan make the CFP, should one go undefeated and the other lose only the one game.

Clemson appears to the have easiest and clearest road to the CFP, as they have no ranked teams left on their schedule. The Tigers’ toughest remaining test before the playoff selection will likely be against No. 17 North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game.

If the only other remaining undefeated team, TCU, continues to win, it will be hard for voters to keep them out of the playoffs as well. The Horned Frogs (8-0) have knocked off four ranked teams already this year, with a trip to No. 24 Texas still on the schedule.