ATHENS – Georgia is no longer No. 1, and no longer in the magical top four. But it’s still within reach.
The Bulldogs are ranked No. 7 in the third edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, after sitting in the top spot the first two weeks. Auburn, which delivered a resounding reality check to Georgia on Saturday, came in at No. 6.
Alabama, a potential opponent for Georgia in the SEC championship, is the new No. 1. Alabama and Auburn will play a week from Saturday to determine the SEC West champion.
Clemson was second, Miami was third and Oklahoma was fourth.
Notre Dame (8-2), which Georgia beat in Week 2 and Miami beat on Saturday, fell five spots to No. 8. Mississippi State (7-3), which qualifies as Georgia’s second-best win, is now ranked No. 16.
In the long run, the first two editions of the CFP rankings were meaningless. So too is the post-Auburn edition, as Georgia’s path remains clear.
Win the next two and then the SEC championship: Playoff-bound.
Don’t do that: Enjoy the Orange, Fiesta, Chick-fil-A or Cotton bowls. (Those are the four top-tier non-playoff bowls. The playoffs are the Rose and Sugar bowls.)
It’s hard to see any other scenario. Perhaps if there are more upsets along the way then Georgia could lose to Kentucky or Georgia Tech and still make it by winning the SEC championship. But until that happens, the working assumption is 3-0 means playoffs.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart was asked if he’s sensed anything different about the team from the previous two weeks, when they were No. 1.
“I don’t think so. I don’t sense that. I thought they had really good juice today. Good energy They don’t seem concerned with any of that stuff,” Smart said. “We’ve asked them to get over it. And they’ve had a really good attitude and they certainly seem that way about things.”
Smart kept that theme up later when asked how freshman quarterback Jake Fromm had performed in practice so far this week.
“He was sharp. He was energized today, and making some good throws,” Smart said. “I mean players seem fine. I think you guys are a lot more concerned about it than they are. They seem good.”