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College Football Playoff Committee Releases First Ever Rankings

The Committee has released their first rankings after the 9th week of the football season.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight we take a look at the first rankings of the playoff committee.

The Committee

You can see more information on all of them at the official site.

Chairman Jeff Long, Arkansas athletic director
Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin athletic director and former head coach
Mike Gould, former Air Force superintendent
Pat Haden, USC athletic director
Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive
Oliver Luck, West Virginia athletic director
Tom Osborne, former Nebraska head coach and athletic director
Dan Radakovich, Clemson athletic director
Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state
Mike Tranghese, former Big East commissioner
Steve Wieberg, former USA Today reporter
Ty Willingham, former FBS head coach

The committee will normally be made up of 13 people, but Archie Manning is taking a break from the committee for this season due to recovering from surgery.

The Rankings

Rank Team Conference Toughest opponent left (per F/+) If the season ended today ...
1 Mississippi State SEC Ole Miss Sugar Bowl vs. Ole Miss
2 Florida State ACC Louisville Rose Bowl vs. Auburn
3 Auburn SEC Ole Miss Rose Bowl vs. Florida State
4 Ole Miss SEC Auburn Sugar Bowl vs. Mississippi State
5 Oregon Pac-12 Stanford New Year's bowl
6 Alabama SEC Auburn Orange Bowl*
7 TCU Big 12 Kansas State New Year's bowl
8 Michigan State Big Ten Ohio State New Year's bowl
9 Kansas State Big 12 TCU New Year's bowl
10 Notre Dame Independent Louisville New Year's bowl
11 Georgia SEC Auburn
12 Arizona Pac-12 Arizona State
13 Baylor Big 12 Oklahoma
14 Arizona State Pac-12 Notre Dame
15 Nebraska Big Ten Wisconsin
16 Ohio State Big Ten Michigan State
17 Utah Pac-12 Oregon
18 Oklahoma Big 12 Baylor
19 LSU SEC Alabama
20 West Virginia Big 12 TCU
21 Clemson ACC Georgia Tech Orange Bowl*
22 UCLA Pac-12 Stanford
23 East Carolina American UCF New Year's bowl*
24 Duke ACC Virginia Tech
25 Louisville ACC Florida State

What It Means

A whole lot of nothing, right now. Personally, I think releasing rankings this early in the season was a very bad idea. I don't want to hear people talking about where everyone stands in the Committee's eyes right now. However, the Powers That Be know that the networks will cover it, and it forces people like me to write about it because everyone else is, so it happens.

It's obvious from this that the Committee is ranking teams as they believe they stand right now. This is nothing more than another Top 25 poll at this point. It would be much more interesting if they ranked teams based on where they expect things to end up. No matter what the ESPN "Who Is In" graphics say, it's inconceivable that the SEC gets more than two teams in the playoff. It would be bad for business in the rest of the country. Even two teams is a stretch, really.

One thing that is different in this ranking is how it is obvious that they did actually look harder at head-to-head victories. Look at Ole Miss being #4 for a clear example of this. They're ahead of Alabama who outranks them in both the Coaches Poll and the AP Poll.

This is one of the reasons why I believe just four teams is not enough. There will still be plenty of arguments about who is better, should conference champions get preference, etc. The SEC being as strong as it is this season (and the SEC West in particular) is possibly the worst thing that could have happened for the Committee in the CFB Playoff's first year. The SEC really may contain the best 3-4 teams in the nation, but no one else wants to hear that and no one else wants to see 3-4 SEC teams fill up the playoff.

Where Does Auburn Stand?

Auburn at #3 is a very good sign. If Auburn wins out, then it is pretty much a guarantee that the Tigers make it into the Playoff.

It will still be possible though, if the committee puts Conference Championships above most other criteria. Mississippi State still has to lose twice or for their to be some form of 3+ team tie for the Western Division for Auburn to make it back to Atlanta. If Auburn struggles in victories and some other teams look great, the Committee could decide to place conference champions in over a second SEC team.