Week Two CFP Rankings: Georgia No. 1 but nothing changes; reading Tennessee tea leaves
ATHENS — Nothing has changed for Georgia football, no matter if the program jumped from No. 3 to No. 1 in the CFP rankings released on Tuesday night.
If the Bulldogs run the table and win the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 3, they’ll be assured of a spot in the four-team playoff.
If Georgia slips up and loses a game, its fate will fall into the hands of the 13-member CFP committee, and as Kirby Smart has said before, “every year, it’s going to be different criteria.”
The Bulldogs don’t want to get into those politics, as the following stories from the 2018 debacle would suggest:
RELATED: Experts agreed in 2018 Georgia was one of four best teams
RELATED: Georgia lobbies for spot in 2018 playoff, Greg Sankey supports Dawgs
RELATED: CFP Chair insists two losses didn’t keep Georgia out of 2018 playoff
Georgia will be favored in all of its remaining games and stand a good chance of winning out, which brings some interest to the discussion of who the Bulldogs might face in the No. 4 seed position should that scenario play out.
Could it be a rematch with Oregon or Tennessee? Or perhaps another Pac-12 or Power 5 conference championship game winner?
For the record, and for all the discussion it’s intended to promote — or provoke — here’s this week’s Top 6 teams in the CFP:
• 1. Georgia
• 2. Ohio State
• 3. Michigan
• 4. TCU
• 5. Tennessee
• 6. Oregon
Bulldogs jumped Buckeyes
CFP Chairman Boo Corrigan explained why Georgia moved past Ohio State, which won 21-7 over a 1-8 Northwestern team on the road.
“The decisive win by Georgia over Tennessee was a primary reason,” Corrigan said. “You are looking at Ohio State and balanced scoring — scoring defense and scoring offense being in the Top 10, averaging 47 points a game .... but we felt that Georgia separated.
“Georgia played very well, and what they did with their defense versus the Tennessee offense was incredibly impressive.”
Everyone felt that way, and the CFP likely lost some credibility with the ease with which Georgia handled the Tennessee team that the committee had selected No. 1 the previous week.
It turned out the AP Top 25 media voters and the coaches who voted in the Coaches Poll were right about having UGA at No. 1 in their rankings, ahead of Ohio State and Tennessee.
Other takeaways from Corrigan’s comments on Tuesday night:
Michigan’s schedule could prove costly
Ohio State stayed ahead of No. 3 Michigan, even though one could make the argument that the Wolverines have looked more dominant against Big Ten competition.
“If anything, that non-conference schedule for Michigan has been a factor,” Corrigan said.
Ohio State has a non-conference win over Notre Dame, the committee noted, while the Wolverines’ non-conference schedule was Colorado State (2-7), Hawaii (2-8) and UConn (5-5).
If Michigan has one loss — and it’s to eventual Big Ten champ Ohio State — that schedule might provide a one-loss Tennessee with an edge for a potential at-large bid at No. 4.
The Vols came in a spot ahead of the Ducks, and all the talk is the comparative scores against Georgia.
Georgia beat Oregon 49-3 in both teams’ first game of the season and topped Tennessee 27-13 last Saturday.
But a closer look reveals the Bulldogs didn’t really dominate as much as the scoreboard indicated against the Ducks, and most agree were more dominant than the scoreboard indicated against the Vols.
• Oregon out-rushed Georgia
• Oregon didn’t allow any plays of 40+
• Oregon didn’t allow any sacks
• Oregon didn’t have a three-and-out until the fourth quarter
• Oregon played Georgia at full-strength with top receiver A.D. Mitchell and sacks leader Nolan Smith
The Bulldogs, in their win over the Vols ...
• Didn’t give up a play longer than 17 yards or the TD until less than 5 minutes remained
• Only attempted four passes in the second half, playing it safe with the UGA defensive dominating
• Sacked Hendon Hooker six times and outrushed the Vols 130-94.
The committee alluded to the fact it looks at more than just the final score.
“As a committee we are looking at the game itself, is it more one-sided, it’s not this one was x-number of points,” Corrigan said. “You look at the overall game and the flow of the game and overall big picture as opposed to a late score and early score.”
“Would the committee say both games were one-sided? Corrigan was asked.
“Yes, I would say so,” Corrigan replied.
It would not be surprising to see Oregon pass Tennessee in the standings if the Ducks win out on the strength of winning a conference championship game.
TCU moves ahead
The Horned Frogs had to come from behind to beat a 4-5 Texas Tech team at home, 34-24, but they leap-frogged Tennessee in the standings, moving from No. 7 to No. 4.
That’s a clear signal that if TCU wins out and is the Big 12 Conference Championship Game winner, it will rank ahead of Tennessee or any other one-loss at-large team.
“TCU with their record, six wins over teams above .500, what they have done, what (QB) Max Duggan has done at TCU,” Corrigan said. “It wasn’t as much what Tennessee didn’t do, as much as what TCU did do … "
The Horned Frogs are a 7-point underdog at Texas on Saturday and have games remaining at Baylor and home to Iowa State before the Big 12 title game.
The Tigers fell all the way to No. 10, so Dabo Swinney may want to make a quarterback change just so he can re-package his program after the 35-14 loss at Notre Dame.
Corrigan made it clear that loss was solely responsible for the Tigers fall from No. 4 in the rankings.
“This was in large part based on the game they played against Notre Dame,” Corrigan said. “At the time an unranked Notre Dame, that has been improving, but in large case it was the Notre Dame game itself.”
Going deeper in the weeds, two-loss LSU was No. 7 followed by No. 8 USC, No. 9 Alabama, No. 10 Clemson, No. 11 Ole Miss and No. 12 UCLA.
When asked why UCLA is ranked behind USC — even though the Bruins beat the team which beat USC (Utah), Corrigan gave a telling response.
“I think the one-point loss by USC at Utah, going for two, the emotion of that game is something the committee has talked about,” Corrigan said. “The job Caleb Williams has done with the 28 touchdown passes, one of the top offenses in the country, putting up 41 points.
“That being said, there’s a lot of respect for UCLA with their one loss being by 15 at Oregon.”
But is there really a lot of respect for UCLA? It doesn’t look like it — not if they aren’t applying transitive properties of the Bruins’ 42-32 win over the Utes.
2. Ohio State
8. Southern Cal
11. Ole Miss
14. Penn State
15. North Carolina
16. NC State
19. Kansas State
20. Notre Dame
23. Florida State