It's that time of the year again! It's the point in the college football season where we all huddle around our television sets on Tuesday night to see how the most powerful old guys in the sport view the field of teams. And then, of course, we complain.
On Tuesday night, the College Football Playoff selection committee released its first rankings of the 2017 season. For the most part, I think they did a pretty good job racking and stacking the contenders at this point in the year. There were a couple of things, however, that did stick out.
Here are the good, bad and ugly of the first College Football Playoff rankings of 2017.
Georgia got the top spot, and deservedly so
Forget preseason rankings and everything that you thought you knew heading into the season. The Georgia Bulldogs have been the biggest surprise of 2017 and without a doubt the most impressive team in the land so far this season. They have an 26.5-point margin of victory through their first eight games and own the most impressive win of the season — a 20-19 victory in South Bend over Notre Dame.
The Irish got the love they deserved
Yes, in college football, there is such a thing as a good loss. Notre Dame has the best loss of the season — the aforementioned setback to Georgia back on Sept. 9. Since then, you could make the argument that the Irish have been the best team in the land. Brian Kelly's club has a 28-point margin of victory and three wins over teams currently in the College Football Playoff Top 25. Their No. 3 overall ranking by the committee is a more accurate reflection of what the Irish have accomplished in 2017 than the No. 5 and No. 8 rankings they received in the AP and Coaches Polls, respectively, this week.
Clemson does not belong in the top 4
It's all about the resume, and Clemson's does not measure up at this point for one reason — the loss to Syracuse. I don't want to hear anything about the injury to quarterback Kelly Bryant (above, right). It was Syracuse. We're talking about Clemson. The Tigers should have been able to handle the Orange with several starters out or not at 100 percent. Instead, Syracuse put up 440 yards of total offense — including 162 rushing yards — against a Clemson defensive line that some thought was the best in the country. Last I checked, Bryant doesn't play defense. And for what it's worth, Notre Dame beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill 33-10 with without starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush in the lineup. The bottom line: Clemson has no business being ranked ahead of the likes of Oklahoma, Ohio State or Penn State, let alone landing a spot in the top four.
The Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 are all in tough spots
Let's say the current four teams at the top of the rankings win out. That would set up an SEC title game, where you would think — barring a blowout either way — both teams would be in the field of four after the fact. Notre Dame would get in and Clemson would get in with a win over Miami or Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game. Can Ohio State, Wisconsin, TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or Washington do enough to merit a jump over any of the current top four teams?
This could get messy.
What about the Group of 5?
Once again, we are staring at a scenario where a Group of 5 team is going to run the table and finish on the outside looking in. UCF looks like this year's version of the 2016 Western Michigan team that had to settle for a Cotton Bowl berth against Wisconsin as a consolation prize.
I beat this drum every year and I'll continue to do so. The top subdivision of college football is the only sport on the planet where you can walk into a locker room of a couple dozen teams before the season begins, look all of the players in the eyes and tell them — with a straight face — that nothing they do will be good enough to qualify them to play for the ultimate prize.
In a sport where many scoff at and are agitated by Notre Dame's independent status, you wonder if perhaps independence is the way to go for any Group of 5 program that has the resources to compete with Power 5 schools, yet is hamstrung by its conference affiliation.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also covers the Big Ten for Black Heart Gold Pants, Iowa's SB Nation blog. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.