With two months of college football in the books, the 2021 season is beginning to heat up as the playoff race begins to take shape. On Tuesday evening, the College Football Playoff committee released its initial playoff rankings, setting the stage for what is sure to be a fascinating month of November.
To the surprise of no one, the Georgia Bulldogs topped Tuesday’s rankings as the most dominant team in the country to date. Behind the Bulldogs, Alabama, Michigan State, and Oregon rounded out the top four.
Ohio State checked in at number five in the initial rankings as the first team currently out of the playoffs. Despite being undefeated and holding one of the best wins in the country with a victory at Notre Dame, Cincinnati finds itself in need of considerable help moving forward as the sixth-ranked team in the country.
Rounding out the top 10 is Michigan, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, and Notre Dame. The much-maligned Big Ten West Division received a boost in credibility by the committee with three teams ranked in the top 25. After two early losses including the season-opener to Ohio State, Minnesota represents the highest-ranked team in the division at number 20. Wisconsin and Iowa are slotted just behind the Golden Gophers at numbers 21 and 22, respectively.
For Ohio State, the path is clear to make its third consecutive playoff appearance. With remaining games against two top-10 teams in Michigan State and Michigan, as well as a potential top-15 matchup with the winner of the Big Ten West Division in the conference championship game, the Buckeyes will have ample opportunity to make additional impressions on the committee.
But for now, the committee has deemed Oregon and Ohio State to have equal resumes, and the Ducks’ Sept. 11 win in Ohio Stadium proved to be the tiebreaker in the initial rankings.
“They beat Ohio State at Ohio State, and that was very important to the committee,” College Football Playoff Chairman Gary Barta said on the rankings broadcast. “And Ohio State is playing great football since that time. They’re on a roll and they’re explosive offensively. But at the end of the day, that’s why they’re one spot behind Oregon, because of that head-to-head (matchup).”
Regardless of where Ohio State is ranked this week, don’t expect head coach Ryan Day and the Buckeyes to pay much attention to it. During his Tuesday press conference, Day said he’s only worried about who makes the final four in the final poll on Dec. 5.
“I don’t really say much about it,” Day said. “I know it’s great for college football and for everybody to talk about, but nobody talks about who was ranked in weeks eight, nine, or 10. They always talk about where it was at the end of the season. That’s all that matters to us, is playing in this game because if we want to be ranked high, we have to keep winning.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.