The College Football Playoff committee had an easy task when deciding on the team at the top of its first rankings of the season. Georgia, the unanimous No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll, unsurprisingly held the same position in the initial reveal Tuesday.
The Bulldogs, who lead the nation in scoring defense and are second in total defense, have been dominant after opening the season with seven-point win against Clemson. Their six victories in the SEC have been by an average of 32.3 points and they have already clinched the East division and a spot in the conference championship game.
The rest of the rankings after Georgia could have gone a number of ways.
Cincinnati, bidding to be the first Group of Five team to make the field, is second in the coaches poll. However, the lack of schedule strength for the Bearcats and a pair of uneven performances against Navy and Tulane are significant negatives.
Alabama with a loss to Texas A&M was right behind Cincinnati in the poll followed by unbeatens Oklahoma and Michigan State, who sandwiched one-loss Ohio State.
BOWL PROJECTIONS: Cincinnati on outside of playoff field right now
Ultimately, it was Alabama that was second followed by Michigan State and Oregon in the top four.
Ohio State, Cincinnati and Michigan took the next three spots.
The one surprise is Oklahoma at No. 8. The Sooners played close games against lesser competition before switching to freshman quarterback Caleb Williams. The good news for OU is it plays No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 12 Baylor and can move up with wins.
Wake Forest and Notre Dame round out the top 10.
More than half of the top 25 were representatives from the SEC (7) and Big Ten (6). Besides Cincinnati, independent No. 15 Brigham Young and No. 23 Fresno State and No. 24 San Diego State of the Mountain West were the only other Group of Five team in the rankings.
It’s easy to make inferences from the first rankings and extrapolate them through the final five weeks. However, much of the picture will change. Georgia and Alabama are likely to face is each for the SEC title. Ohio State and Michigan State have a scheduled game Nov. 20. Oklahoma still must face its toughest Big 12 opponents. Cincinnati must get through the American Athletic, which will include a game against SMU and likely Houston.
History has shown it’s more likely than not that two or three of this week’s top four will miss the playoffs. In the first six seasons of the playoff rankings between 2014-19, 11 of the 24 teams in the top four from the first poll missed the semifinals. Last season was the only time all of the initial top four made the playoff, however there were only four rankings before the final weekend due to schedule changes with COVID-19.
The final rankings of the season will be released Dec. 5. The semifinals will take place at the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31.
The championship game will be played on Jan. 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
College Football Playoff committee Top 25
1. Georgia (8-0)
2. Alabama (7-1)
3. Michigan State (8-0)
4. Oregon (7-1)
5. Ohio State (7-1)
6. Cincinnati (8-0)
7. Michigan (7-1)
8. Oklahoma (9-0)
9. Wake Forest (8-0)
10. Notre Dame (7-1)
11. Oklahoma State (7-1)
12. Baylor (7-1)
13. Auburn (6-2)
14. Texas A&M (6-2)
15. Brigham Young (7-2)
16. Mississippi (6-2)
17. Mississippi State (5-3)
18. Kentucky (6-2)
19. North Carolina State (6-2)
20. Minnesota (6-2)
21. Wisconsin (5-3)
22. Iowa (6-2)
23. Fresno State (7-2)
24. San Diego State (7-1)
25. Pittsburgh (6-2)
Follow colleges reporter Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College Football Playoff rankings: Georgia leads, Cincinnati is sixth