The Alabama Crimson Tide are atop the first set of College Football Playoff rankings in 2020.
Alabama, the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25, occupies that same spot in the playoff committee’s rankings. The Crimson Tide are ahead of Notre Dame, Clemson, and Ohio State.
Three of the six teams ranked atop the first set of playoff rankings have entered the playoff at No. 1. The most recent team to do it was Alabama in 2018, though the Tide lost to Clemson in the national title game.
Ohio State is at No. 3 in the AP Top 25 but has played four games. Clemson, at 7-1, has played twice as many games as the Buckeyes because of the Big Ten’s delayed season start. That head start is a big reason why the Tigers are ahead of the Buckeyes.
Texas A&M is at No. 5 and Florida is at No. 6. The Aggies beat the Gators in College Station earlier this season.
Cincinnati is the top-ranked Group of Five team at No. 7. The Bearcats are seven spots ahead of BYU. The Cougars came in at a surprising 14th in the rankings thanks to their weak pandemic-induced schedule. BYU was unable to play its original Power Five opponents after those teams’ conferences went to conference-only schedules for the season.
Despite the low ranking, Iowa athletic director and playoff committee chair Gary Barta said the committee was “very impressed” with BYU. But the committee penalized BYU because of its schedule.
“The committee is very impressed with BYU, [QB] Zach Wilson is definitely a Heisman candidate playing at a very high level,” Barta said. “They’ve beaten three or four teams above .500. But if you look at their schedule … and looked at their best win is against Boise State. Boise was shorthanded in that game. So the committee is very impressed with BYU but certainly schedule compared to teams around them came into play.”
The Cougars have just one game remaining in 2020 unless they find another opponent to play over the next few weeks. As an independent team, BYU needs to be ranked highly by the playoff committee to be considered for an at-large berth into one of the New Year’s Six bowl games.
Significant discrepancies with the AP poll
BYU isn’t the only team that has a far different playoff ranking than an AP ranking. BYU is six spots lower in the playoff rankings than it is in the AP poll. The same goes for Oregon. The Ducks are at No. 9 in the AP poll and are at No. 15 in the playoff rankings.
Oregon is just three spots ahead of No. 18 USC, a team that needed two late comeback wins in its first two games of the season.
Northwestern is at No. 8 in the playoff rankings, three spots higher than it is in the AP poll. Georgia is at No. 9; four spots higher than it is in the AP poll. Miami is at No. 10 in both sets of rankings.
The playoff committee also isn’t too high on either Marshall or Coastal Carolina right now. Each team is four spots lower in the playoff rankings than it is in the AP poll.
Full College Football Playoff rankings
1. Alabama (7-0)
2. Notre Dame (8-0)
3. Clemson (7-1)
4. Ohio State (4-0)
5. Texas A&M (5-1)
6. Florida (6-1)
7. Cincinnati (8-0)
8. Northwestern (5-0)
9. Georgia (5-2)
10. Miami (7-1)
11. Oklahoma (6-2)
12. Indiana (4-1)
13. Iowa State (6-2)
14. BYU (9-0)
15. Oregon (3-0)
16. Wisconsin (2-1)
17. Texas (5-2)
18. USC (3-0)
19. North Carolina (6-2)
20. Coastal Carolina (8-0)
21. Marshall (7-0)
22. Auburn (5-2)
23. Oklahoma State (5-2)
24. Iowa (3-2)
25. Tulsa (5-1)