Trying to figure out the College Football Playoff selection committee is about as easy as arguing with your drunk significant other. Logic goes out the window, and just when you think you understand, the rules change and the yelling starts again. This continues until both sides are exhausted and someone vomits.
Or so the case has been for the first three years of the College Football Playoff era. One year non-conference schedule was the holy grail of accomplishment, the next year conference championships were rewarded, only to be completely forgotten the year after that. The two things we know for certain are that Alabama will be in the Top-4 and Ohio State will get the benefit of the doubt.
So while the consistency of the committee’s selections and its reliance on precedent can’t be counted on from year to year, Alabama and Georgia are hoping that this year it can be counted on from week to week. One thing the committee has been decent at is deciding what they care about for that given year, and sticking with it throughout that year’s process.
The first set of rankings came out on Tuesday night, and as many predicted here at 92-9 the Game, UGA got the No. 1 spot. And the Bulldogs should have. Georgia’s 8-0 record is stacked with lopsided victories and an increasingly impressive road win over Notre Dame early in the season. And while the recognition makes many of the Georgia faithful uneasy, it should serve as great proof that Kirby Smart has put his stamp on this program very quickly.
Some will rush to point out that no team selected No. 1 in the first week of rankings has ever gone on to with the national championship. But the process is three years old and that has to change one of these years. More than anything UGA got the recognition that it deserved for a great start to the season, and that should be enjoyed by fans. It doesn’t promise anything other than an interesting finish, but that’s a great gift in itself.
But the truly great news for UGA fans, and for Alabama fans as well, is the order in which the committee ranked each of the top 10 teams. It broke down like this:
1. UGA (8-0)
2. Bama (8-0)
3. Notre Dame (7-1)
4. Clemson (7-1)
5. Oklahoma (7-1)
6. Ohio State (7-1)
7. Penn State (7-1)
8. TCU (7-1)
9. Wisconsin (8-0)
10. Miami (7-0)
What this tells us is that the committee cares a lot about head-to-head results this season. Oklahoma beat Ohio State and Ohio State beat Penn State, therefore they rank Nos. 5, 6, 7, respectively. It almost seems too logical for the CFP committee, but we’ll take it. It also says that they care more about the true quality of a record over simply the record itself, as evidence by the fact that they ranked five one-loss teams ahead of two undefeated teams.
The reason that is great news for both UGA and Alabama is that they will ultimately benefit from both of these standards, if the committee stays consistent… BIG if of course.
For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that Georgia and Bama win out and meet in the SEC title game in Atlanta. As long as both make it to Atlanta unscathed, no matter what happens in that game, one team finishes undefeated and one team finishes with one loss to the best team in the country.
If losing to Oklahoma by 15 points and beating Penn State by one point keeps Ohio State just one spot behind Oklahoma, then either UGA or Bama can lose the SEC title game and remain in the four contestants for the CFP title.
They are both going to be rooting hard for Notre Dame to keep winning too, because UGA’s win bolsters both quality of record and the head-to-head standard for both teams.
If your fandom lies outside Georgia, Alabama or Notre Dame, look away, this could be a truly doomsday scenario. If these three teams finish 13-0, 12-1 and 11-1, it’s likely that two SEC schools get in and an “independent,” which means that three Power-5 conferences get left out of the Playoff.
There is still a lot of football to play, but if you’re in favor of playoff expansion, you should be rooting for this to happen. (Or if you simply enjoy chaos.)
Bottom line, as long as the committee doesn’t go full drunk girlfriend, the precedent that it set forth on Tuesday night is massively helpful to both UGA and Alabama. And for Pete’s sake, enjoy being No. 1 for a dang second.