Georgia climbs into the top four but still has big tests ahead
The College Football Playoff committee released its second ranking of the 2019 season on Tuesday night, and the big question was answered when Georgia was slotted at No. 4 behind the "Big 3" of LSU, Ohio State and Clemson. It’s far too early to read too much into the rankings, but it is interesting to note that the committee tabbed Georgia (good wins but a bad loss) over Alabama (no great wins but a very “good” loss).
The top two teams from Pac-12, Oregon and Utah, each moved up one spot and likely will meet in the league title game early next month. Minnesota jumped up from No. 17 to No. 9 after its breakthrough win over Penn State, while the Nittany Lions tumbled from No. 5 to No. 9. Oklahoma, which needed a stop on a two-point conversion to hold off Iowa State, rounds out the top 10.
Athlon Sports editors Mitch Light, Steven Lassan and Braden Gall will offer their initial reaction to the rankings every week.
Athlon Sports Reacts
Mitch Light: Like everyone else, I was very interested to see what the committee did with the fourth spot. You could make rational arguments for Oregon, Utah or Minnesota, but I believed it would come down to Georgia or Alabama. Georgia obviously has that bad loss — and South Carolina did the Dawgs no favors by losing at home to Appalachian State last weekend — but it also has wins over Notre Dame and Florida. Alabama doesn’t have a victory over a current top-25 team, but it has been dominant in its wins and played No. 1 LSU to a one-score game. The good thing about this: It doesn’t matter. Georgia will either play its way into the playoffs (by winning out) or play its way out (by losing one more game).
Nothing else really jumped out. I agree with ranking Oregon and Utah over Minnesota at this point. The Golden Gophers have been very good in the last two months but have not played a difficult schedule (other than Penn State). They, however, will have ample opportunities to prove themselves down the stretch, with regular-season games against Iowa and Wisconsin and a potential Big Ten Championship Game match with Ohio State.
Steven Lassan: With LSU, Ohio State and Clemson entrenched as the top three teams, there wasn’t much intrigue at the top in this week’s rankings. And if all three win out, they will be in the playoff (and likely stay in that order). What I did find interesting was how the committee handled Alabama and the next tier of teams. Looking ahead, it’s possible the debate at No. 4 comes down to a second team from the SEC versus the Pac-12 champion. Georgia beating LSU in the SEC Championship is a wild-card scenario, but the committee would have its hands full in an Alabama vs. Oregon/Utah debate for No. 4.
I also found the Big 12’s place in the rankings interesting. Considering five teams are ranked, the committee seems to think highly of the Big 12. However, Oklahoma is the highest at No. 10. I don’t think the Sooners are out of it, especially with a trip to undefeated Baylor this weekend, Oklahoma State on Nov. 30 and the Big 12 Championship still in play. However, it certainly wouldn’t hurt for Lincoln Riley’s team to win impressively this Saturday in Waco after losing to Kansas State and narrowly avoiding the upset against Iowa State.
Cincinnati and Memphis maintained their edge in the race to be the top Group of 5 team, but Appalachian State is a team to watch. Boise State has not played well the last couple of weeks, and the Mountaineers picked up a big win at South Carolina. The AAC champ is still in the driver’s seat to claim a New Year’s Six bowl spot, but Appalachian State’s win in Columbia gets it back on the radar.
Braden Gall: At the top, the committee had to put LSU at No. 1 considering how many questioned the decision not to rank them first a week ago. Otherwise, the headline for this particular committee is that it once again contradicted itself to some degree. Georgia isn’t getting penalized for one of the worst losses of the group, while Oklahoma seems to be getting crushed for its loss (which isn’t as bad as UGa’s). It’s interesting that the whole world was ready to “murder Jake Fromm” (according to his head coach) and Georgia for weeks but now the team’s two really good wins — neither of which are top 10 currently — are enough to outweigh weeks of legitimate criticism. Alabama has been far more dominant and should be in the top four, and the Sooners have been extremely good for all but two or three quarters all year. And as much as I admire both Oregon and Utah, they don’t have either the eye test, the metrics or the wins to justify being ahead of teams that have been more dominant (Oklahoma).
When is the College Football Playoff?
The national semifinals will be played on Dec. 28, 2019, followed by the national championship game on Jan. 13, 2020.
Where is the College Football Playoff?
One national semifinal will be played at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. The other is at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.
Week 2 College Football Playoff Ranking
1. LSU, 9-0
2. Ohio State, 9-0
3. Clemson, 10-0
4. Georgia, 8-1
5. Alabama, 8-1
6. Oregon 8-1
7. Utah, 8-1
8. Minnesota, 9-0
9. Penn State, 8-1
10. Oklahoma, 8-1
11. Florida, 8-2
12. Auburn, 7-2
13. Baylor, 9-0
14. Wisconsin, 7-2
15. Michigan, 7-2
16. Notre Dame, 7-2
17. Cincinnati, 8-1
18. Memphis, 8-1
19. Texas, 6-3
20. Iowa, 6-3
21. Boise State, 8-1
22. Oklahoma State, 6-3
23. Navy, 7-1
24. Kansas State, 6-3
25. Appalachian State, 8-1