2021 Initial College Football Playoff Rankings
The initial College Football Playoff rankings were released on Tuesday night by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. The Committee traditionally reveals its first rankings on the first Tuesday of November, and here are where things stand as we enter November 2021.
Michigan State (8-0)
Ohio State (7-1)
Wake Forest (8-0)
Notre Dame (7-1)
Oklahoma State (7-1)
Texas A&M (6-2)
Ole Miss (6-2)
Mississippi State (5-3)
North Carolina State (6-2)
Fresno State (7-2)
San Diego State (7-1)
So, if the playoff started today, the semifinal games would be Georgia vs, Oregon and Alabama vs. Michigan State. All four teams are coached by either Nick Saban or one of his former assistants.
It is interesting that the committee put Alabama ahead of some undefeated teams, especially power five teams, but I still believe Alabama deserves to be in the top four. One more loss will drop them, but I'm actually okay with where they are for now.
Cincinnati is ranked number six in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, but the Bearcats are No. 2 in the AP Poll. The Bearcats will undoubtedly move up if they keep winning, but they do need to be a little more impressive against lesser conference opponents.
Michigan State and Ohio State will meet in a couple of weeks in Columbus. The winner of that game will be in the driver seat for the Big Ten's playoff spot with Michigan lurking behind with an outside shot if chaos breaks loose. It is worth noting that the committee has shown clear value to head-to-head winners in this initial poll, which could become a factor between those three teams.
For example, Wisconsin has more losses than Iowa, but the Badgers defeated the Haweyes over the weekend and are ranked one spot ahead of them. The same can be said for No. 23 Fresno State and No. 24 San Diego State,No. 17 Mississippi State and No. 18 Kentucky. Teams with identical records also got that benefit with No.4 Oregon over No. 5 Ohio State and No. 12 Oklahoma State over No. 13 Baylor.
Oklahoma is the only Big 12 team in the top 10, and as such has the conference's best chance to make the four-team field. Either No. 12 Oklahoma State or No. 13 Baylor are the best competition for the Sooners in-conference.
Oregon is the ONLY Pac-12 team included this week.
Missing from the rankings for the first time is Clemson. Wake Forest is the highest-ranked ACC team-- making its second-ever CFP poll appearance at No. 9. No. 19 North Carolina State and No. 25 Pittsburgh are the only other ACC teams included.
While last year's rankings were crashed by Group of Five teams, this year's version is a bit scarce on the mid-majors. No. 6 Cincinnati still has a shot to make the final field and is running away with the G5 bid for a New Year's Six bowl game. No. 15 BYU, No.23 Fresno State, and No. 24 San Diego State are the only others in this poll-- leaving Coastal Carolina, SMU, Houston, Louisiana, and Texas-San Antonio out in the cold despite being ranked in the AP Poll.
Penn State is also a somewhat curious omission from the initial list.
Here are some interesting matchups coming up between some of the team that did make the rankings:
11/27: No. 2 Alabama @ No. 13 Auburn
11/20: No. 3 Michigan State @ No. 5 Ohio State
11/27: No. 5 Ohio State @ No. 7 Michigan
11/13: No. 8 Oklahoma @ No. 12 Baylor
11/27: No. 8 Oklahoma @ No. 11 Oklahoma State
11/13: No. 19 NC State @ No. 9 Wake Forest
11/6: No. 13 AUburn @ No.14 Texas A&M
11/13: No. 17 Mississippi State @ No. 13 Auburn
11/13: No. 14 Texas A&M @ No. 16 Ole Miss
11/25: No. 16 Ole Miss @ No. 17 Mississippi State
11/13: No. 20 Minnesota @ No. 22 Iowa
11/27: No. 21 Wisconsin @ No. 20 Minnesota
Obviously, not all of these will impact the race for the top four, but there are still many good games and rivalries to watch out of this list.