Is Georgia back in the College Football Playoff discussion?
Yes, but there is still a lot of work to do.
The first question is where will it be ranked when the initial CFP rankings are released on Tuesday. There is a clear cut top 5 right now. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, LSU and Penn State. All are undefeated and and make up the AP top 5.
The argument likely begins with which is No. 6 — Georgia or Oregon?
The Bulldogs (7-1) made a strong case Saturday when they knocked off Florida, but is their resume better than the Ducks?
Georgia does have a win against Notre Dame, but the Irish continue to fade. They got boat raced at Michigan two weeks ago and struggled to beat Virginia Tech on Saturday at home. Plus, the Bulldogs have that nagging loss to South Carolina at Samford Stadium.
Oregon lost it’s season opener against Auburn by six points in Dallas. Since then the Ducks have run off eight straight, often in dominating fashion. It’s best two wins are at Washington and at USC, which it beat 56-24 on Saturday.
In the end, it feels like Georgia will be No. 6, and while it looks like it is now back in position to earn its way into the CFP final four, winning out still may not get them there.
LSU and Alabama play this week, so one will have a loss. Ohio State and Penn State play later this month, so one of those will have a loss, but considering the first is a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup and the other could be No. 2 vs. No. 5, of both games are one-point losses either way, the loser will still have a better resume than UGA.
Another team to watch is Minnesota. When most people hear that, they will dismiss the Golden Gophers, and how could anyone put them in ahead of Georgia? Consider Minnesota is currently 8-0 and leading the Big Ten West. They still have games at home against No. 5 Penn State, at No. 19 Iowa and home against No. 18 Wisconsin. Sweep them and beat No. 2 Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, and Minnesota would be in. Assuming that Clemson and Oregon run the table, that could leave us a discussion between a one-loss Georgia and a one-loss Ohio State for the fourth spot.
If it comes down to that, which resume is better?
Georgia would have ranked wins over Notre Dame, Florida, Auburn and either LSU or Alabama.
Ohio State would have ranked wins over Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan.
Georgia may have the edge on strength of the victories, but if Ohio State’s only loss is against a top 5 Minnesota team in the Big Ten title game, that would seem to trump the Bulldogs bad home loss to unranked South Carolina.
The nice thing is, there is a lot of football between now and then, and there is no one that will be able to predict what will happen between now and Dec. 8, when the final CFP rankings are released.
With the first CFP rankings coming out on Tuesday, there will be less scrutiny of the AP and Coaches polls because they are not considered part of the criteria the playoff committee will use going forward. However, in theory, there still could be split national champions, it is hard to imagine the polls not having a modicum of influence on the committee members.
Which brings me to my ballot, and as always, I offer this disclaimer: I don’t care if Georgia or Georgia Tech win. The same can be said for Alabama, Auburn, Clemson or any other team for that matter. I was born in Ohio, but I am not an Ohio State fan. My money went to UAB, which saw the Blazer bandwagon suffer a flat tire Saturday in a 30-7 loss to Tennessee.
It kind of shows the reality of the difference between a middling SEC team and a good, but not great, Group of 5 program. The Blazers are now 6-2 and they will now concentrate on defending their Conference USA championship over the last month of the season. When I start ranking UAB in the top 10, you can start calling me a homer.
1. Alabama: Crimson Tide will be rested next week against LSU, but will Tua be healthy?
2. Clemson: They can only destroy the teams that are on their schedule.
3. Ohio State: Could open the CPF rankings at No. 1 or No. 2. Defensive lineman Chase Young has bypassed teammate Justin Fields in the Heisman Trophy race and could earn himself a trip to New York for the ceremony.
4. LSU: Can the Joe Burrow handle the atmosphere in Tuscaloosa and continue his strong play against Alabama?
5. Penn State: A tough trip to Minnesota awaits this week. A win there further solidifies their spot in the top 5.
6. Georgia: Loved seeing former Walton High School standout Dominick Blaylock make an impact in the Bulldogs’ big win over Florida. It will be exciting to see how his production continues to progress over the last month of the season.
7 and 8. Oregon and Utah: Neither will play another ranked team in the regular season unless they face each other in the Pac 12 championship game.
13. Notre Dame: How much would the Georgia resume been affected if the Irish had lost to Virginia Tech?
20. Memphis: The Tigers hand SMU its first loss of the season and jump into the discussion for the Group of 5 candidates for the New Year’s Six bowl game.
3. Ohio State
5. Penn State
13. Notre Dame
19. Kansas State
21. Boise State
22. Wake Forest
25. San Diego State