CFP Playoff Rankings Take Luster From LSU-Alabama Game as Ohio State is Named No.1 in College Football

The college football ranking that carries the most weight was released for the first time Tuesday night, and it shook up the seedings of this weekend's heavily-anticipated showdown between LSU and Alabama.

Instead, Ohio State is ranked No. 1 in the first College Football Playoff (CFP) ranking, which eventually determines the top four teams that will make the playoffs. The Buckeyes are followed by LSU at No. 2, Alabama, Penn State and at No. 5 is the defending national champion Clemson Tigers.

Before Tuesday's CFP rankings, LSU was No. 1 in the Associated Press poll and Alabama was No. 1 in the Coaches Poll. LSU is No. 2 in the Coaches Poll while Alabama is second in the AP poll.

LSU and Alabama will square off in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET, but the much-anticipated matchup went from a 1-2 showdown to another SEC slugfest as the second- and third-best teams for the right to represent the SEC West in Atlanta for the conference championship game

Rob Mullens, the athletics director at the University of Oregon and CFP Selection Committee chair, said Ohio State's overall consistency on both sides of the ball led the committee to choosing them over LSU and the Tigers' high-flying new offense.

"They're two outstanding teams. We obviously recognized LSU's two marquee wins against Florida and Auburn," Mullens said. "The outstanding offense with [quarterback] Joe Burrow and the new offensive [play caller Joe Brady] at LSU, but when you watch Ohio State, they have performed at a very consistent level."

Here are the first CFP rankings of 2019:

  1. Ohio State (8-0)
  2. LSU (8-0)
  3. Alabama (8-0)
  4. Penn State (8-0)
  5. Clemson (9-0)
  6. Georgia (7-1)
  7. Oregon (8-1)
  8. Utah (8-1)
  9. Oklahoma (7-1)
  10. Florida (7-2)
  11. Auburn (7-2)
  12. Baylor (8-0)
  13. Wisconsin (6-2)
  14. Michigan (7-2)
  15. Notre Dame (6-2)
  16. Kansas State (6-2)
  17. Minnesota (8-0)
  18. Iowa (6-2)
  19. Wake Forest (7-1)
  20. Cincinnati (7-1)
  21. Memphis (8-1)
  22. Boise State (7-1)
  23. Oklahoma State (6-3)
  24. Navy (7-1)
  25. SMU (8-1)
Ohio State Football
The Ohio State Buckeyes take the field before a game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

If the season ended today, the top four teams would advance to the playoffs. No. 1 Ohio State would face No. 4 Penn State in one semifinal and No. 2 LSU would play No. 3 Alabama in the other semifinal.

It's highly unlikely those matches would happen as they will both take place in regular season, with LSU-Alabama taking place this weekend.

The CFP semifinal games will be played Dec. 28 at the predetermined sites of the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, and the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia. The winners will advance to the national championship game on Jan. 13 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

For comparison, here are the top 5 in the other two major polls.

AP Top 5

  1. LSU
  2. Alabama
  3. Ohio State
  4. Clemson
  5. Penn State

Coaches Poll

  1. Alabama
  2. LSU
  3. Clemson
  4. Ohio State
  5. Penn State

Ohio State, with transfer quarterback Justin Fields at the helm, has looked like perhaps the most complete team in all three phases of the game.

LSU this season transformed its offense from yesteryear—or even last year—into a pass-happy group that stacks up passing yards and points. The Tigers have beaten Texas on the road, and they beat both Florida and Auburn in Baton Rouge this season.

The CFP rankings will be announced every Tuesday evening through the end of the regular season, culminating with the final four and New Year's Six Bowl pairings after conference championship games in December.

Tuesday's initial rollout of the 2019 rankings came during a break between basketball games at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The first game pitted preseason No. 3 Kansas against No. 4 Duke, with Duke pulling away for a 68-66 win.

The nightcap was No. 1 Michigan State against No. 2 Kentucky. This is the first time in NCAA men's basketball history that the top four seeds played each other on opening night at the same venue.

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