Commentary by Andy Callaway, P&G Sports Staff
Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and Alabama make Top 4 in First Week of Playoff Rankings.
Before the release of the College Football Playoff Committee’s first set of rankings in anticipation of week 10, Ohio State had held the top spot all season, with Baylor coming in a close second while Alabama was ranked behind the Bears as well as TCU and Baylor.
That all changed Tuesday night as the college football world has turned on its head and fans were given a glimpse of what the second annual playoff could turn out to look like.
Coming in at number one is not an SEC powerhouse, nor a defending national champion.
Instead, it’s Dabo Swinney’s scrappy ACC Atlantic leading Clemson Tigers. The Tigers, behind a solid defense and the powerful arm of QB Deshaun Watson, have crushed opponent after opponent, and has a favorable remaining schedule to place itself in a position to make a national title run.
Ranked second by the committee is a team that hasn’t exactly crushed its opposition so far this season, but has won games by executing textbook football and maintaining a smashmouth rushing game led by Leonard Fournette. LSU moves up two spots from the AP rankings to take the second place ranking.
Dropping two spots from their former AP ranking, but perhaps reversing the curse of being preseason number one in the process is the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Ranked third, the Buckeyes still have huge Big Ten matchups to worry about but control their own destiny to return to the playoffs.
Who topped off the playoff positioned teams, however, is what really shocked the college football world Tuesday night.
Alabama, with its one loss, leapfrogged undefeated Baylor, TCU, and Michigan State to take the coveted fourth ranked spot.
Despite its one loss at home against Ole Miss, Alabama has looked impressive, putting away opponent after opponent in the SEC West, considered by many to be the toughest division, in the toughest conference, in all of football.
Heading into week 10, while the college football season is beginning to wind down, the stakes are getting higher and higher, and the competition is ramping up.
Each team ranked among the top four in the nation has plenty of test left on the schedule, while the teams just barely shut out, have plenty of opportunity left to take their place in the playoffs.
This upcoming weekend, two match ups stand out with their major conference and national title implications.
In the ACC, Florida State will look to reclaim its national prominence against a Clemson team that is basking in the spotlight. The winner will likely go on to represent the ACC Atlantic in the conference championship game.
However, the pressure is on Clemson in particular. The Tigers are not only playing to defend their place in the conference standings against Florida State but are also defending the number one ranking and spot in the playoff.
Taking matters even deeper into the South, Alabama hosts LSU Saturday in game that pits two of the top four teams in the nation against each other. Not only the SEC West, but a spot in the playoffs is on the line for both teams.