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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart during an interview with ESPN after the College Football Playoff National Championship in Indianapolis, Ind., on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

ESPN expert ‘Michigan has really strong case for No. 1′ in College Football Playoff Rankings

According to Dinich, Michigan’s win at Ohio State raised its schedule strength to No. 39 in the nation -- ahead of Georgia, which is at No. 47.

Michigan’s non-conference games were against UConn (6-6), Hawaii (3-10) and Colorado State (3-9), while Georgia played Oregon (9-3), FCS Samford (10-1), Kent State (5-7) and Georgia Tech (5-7).

The Bulldogs, of course, dominated Michigan in last season’s CFP Semifinal in the Orange Bowl, pulling its starters late to allow a Wolverines touchdown that made it 34-11.

The ESPN expert also said the Bulldogs’ wins over Oregon and Tennessee have lost value because of the Ducks’ loss to Oregon State and the Vols’ decisive loss at South Carolina.

The difference between being ranked No. 1 or No. 2 might not seem like much on the surface, but a closer look reveals Georgia would benefit from not having to travel to the Phoenix area to play in the Fiesta Bowl CFP Semifinal if it maintains the No. 1 spot.

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The No. 1 team gets to choose where it plays, and the Peach Bowl CFP semifinal in Atlanta would be the preferred location for Michigan or Georgia.

The other teams projected in the top four — No. 3 TCU and No. 4 USC — would obviously be more likely to pick the Glendale, Ariz., stadium.

Coach Kirby Smart said it didn’t make as big of a difference to him as in past years because there is a 10-day window between the CFP semifinals (Dec. 31) and the CFP Championship Game (Jan. 9, Los Angeles).

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“To me, the focus has to be on LSU and the preparation for LSU to win this game,” Smart said on Monday, asked by DawgNation the relevance of playing in Atlanta vs. the Phoenix area in the CFP Semifinals.

“You’re talking about hypotheticals of what a committee’s going to think and where they’re going to put people. I really don’t even think about it until it comes time. Wherever the dust settles, whatever happens happens, and you make the most of it.

“The only thing you can say is the travel and the time spent, but that only really matters to me on a short week, which is a seven-day turnaround. When you have the extension of nine to ten days, it’s probably overrated because you’re going to get more travel times.”

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