Alabama holds the No. 1 spot in the initial College Football Playoff ranking
The Crimson Tide are followed by Clemson, Louisiana State and Notre Dame in the first of six rankings to be issued by the CFP selection committee. Penn State is 14th.
To no one's surprise, undefeated Alabama held the top spot in the initial College Football Playoff ranking announced Tuesday night.
The 13-member College Football Playoff selection committee ranked Clemson second, Louisiana State third, and Notre Dame fourth in the first of six weeks of listings. The top four teams in the final ranking on Dec. 2 advance to the playoff semifinals on Dec. 29 at the Cotton and Orange Bowls.
Penn State was ranked No. 14.
Michigan, which hosts the Nittany Lions on Saturday, came in at No. 5, followed by Georgia, Oklahoma, and Washington State. No. 9 Kentucky and Ohio State rounded out the top 10.
The first ranking comes out on the eve of some important games Saturday, In addition to Penn State at Michigan, Alabama is at LSU in the SEC game of the year to this point, Notre Dame is at Northwestern and Georgia plays at Kentucky.
The choice of LSU over Notre Dame for the third spot was the subject of much discussion by the committee, which has six new members this year, according to chairman Rob Mullens, athletic director at Oregon.
"But when you look at LSU's resume," Mullens told ESPN, "they've got six wins against teams above .500 that include quality wins over Georgia and Mississippi State. They've got a great resume. Their only loss is a close loss to Florida, so really impressed with their defense and overall their body of work was pretty strong."
Meanwhile, Notre Dame would have to win out to keep its chances high of remaining in the top four. The Fighting Irish will be favored to beat Northwestern, Florida State, Syracuse (No. 19 in the CFP ranking) and Southern California.
The Big 12, with Oklahoma, and the Pac-12, with Washington State, are within striking distance in the first week. West Virginia, ranked 13th, still has to play Oklahoma and No. 17 Texas, so wins there will boost its stock. Washington State likely will have to win out because of a weak nonconference schedule.
Florida came in at No. 11 followed by Central Florida, the lowest-ranked unbeaten and the winner of 20 consecutive games, longest streak in the nation. The Knights, who host Temple on Thursday night, are ranked six spots higher than they were in the initial 2017 poll even though they have yet to defeat a team with a winning record.
After West Virginia and Penn State, Utah was ranked 15th, followed by Iowa, Texas, Mississippi State, Syracuse, and Texas A&M. The final five are North Carolina State, Boston College, Fresno State, Iowa State, and Virginia.