The first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings was released on Tuesday night.

The rankings are as follows:

#1 Ohio State
#2 LSU
#3 Alabama
#4 Penn State
#5 Clemson
#6 Georgia
#7 Oregon
#8 Utah
#9 Oklahoma
#10 Florida
#11 Auburn
#12 Baylor
#13 Wisconsin
#14 Michigan
#15 Notre Dame
#16 Kansas State
#17 Minnesota
#18 Iowa
#19 Wake Forest
#20 Cincinnati
#21 Memphis
#22 Boise State
#23 Oklahoma State
#24 Navy
#25 SMU

Also, you can see the latest AP Top 25 rankings here.

Most of the debate surrounded around Clemson’s positioning in the no. 5 slot. Sure, the Tigers’ schedule has been very weak, but Alabama’s hasn’t been great either. Therefore, some argue that if you are going to put Penn State ahead of Clemson, the Nittany Lions should also be ahead of Alabama. Some were also surprised that LSU was not no. 1 considering they have the most impressive resume on the year, but the committee indeed made a statement regarding how they view the Buckeyes.

Oct 26, 2019; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow (9) celebrates with wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. (6) after a touchdownn against the Auburn Tigers during the fourth quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, most of these debates will shake out in the weeks ahead as many of these teams play each other and other ranked teams.

About the College Football Playoff rankings

The College Football Playoff rankings are unique in that they are not released to the public until well into the college football season (compared to the AP Top 25 and the Coaches polls that are released weekly throughout the entire college football season). Once the first edition of the rankings are released, a new top 25 will be released each week until the end of the regular season.

The College Football Playoff rankings also tend to diverge a bit from other rankings like the AP Top 25. While the AP Top 25 tends to follow a “lose and you move down” mentality, the College Football Playoff rankings can see more switching up of teams even during the absence of top team upsets. This is because the selection committee claims to begin each week fresh and put together its rankings based on the entire resume and results of the teams under consideration (rather than say just modifying the previous week’s top 25 rankings).

Despite what most consider to be a well put together process, the committee’s CFP rankings haven’t been without controversy. During the 2014 season (the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff), the Big 12’s TCU and Baylor squads were left out of the Playoff when Ohio State was granted a slot after blowing out Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. In 2016, Penn State won the Big Ten and had beaten Ohio State, but the Nittany Lions had two losses, so Ohio State got in over them. While some controversy remains over some of the committee’s decisions in recent years, most week-to-week controversy gets ironed out by the end of the season as teams fight through the last month of the regular season.

When do the College Football Playoff rankings come out?

The first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings come out on Tuesday, November 5, during the 9 – 9:30 p.m. ET broadcast on ESPN. Then, the rankings are released each of the following Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. ET (Nov. 12, Nov. 19, Nov. 26, Dec. 3). The final College Football Playoff rankings will be released on Sunday, December 8 when the CFP field will be set along with other New Years Six bowl games.

Who decides the College Football Playoff rankings?

The selection committee is made up of individuals that decide the rankings. One of our staff recently attended a mock selection process and dug into the process. If you’re interested in learning the details of how the committee sets its rankings, give the article a read. The current selection committee is made up of the following individuals:

  • Rob Mullens, Oregon AD
  • Gary Barta, Iowa AD
  • Frank Beamer, Former head coach
  • Paola Boivin, ASU professor
  • Joe Castiglione, Oklahoma AD
  • Ken Hatfield, Former head coach
  • Chris Howard, President of Robert Morris University
  • Ronnie Lott, Former player
  • Terry Mohajir, Arkansas State AD
  • Ray Odierno, Former Chief of Staff, Army
  • RC Slocum, Former head coach
  • Todd Stansbury, Georgia Tech AD
  • Scott Stricklin, Florida AD

College Football Playoff schedule

This year the College Football Playoff takes place during the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl on Saturday, December 28, 2019. The Championship Game is set for Monday, January 13.

The College Football Playoff rankings also dictate the other New Years Six bowls. These include the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, December 28, 2019, the Orange Bowl on December 30, 2019 and the Rose and Sugar Bowls on January 1, 2020.

College Football Playoff rankings history

The College Football Playoff rankings began with the 2014 season. The 2019 college football season marks the sixth college football season in which the selection committee sets the rankings and the four-team playoff field. Below is a bit of history about the previous five seasons of College Football Playoff rankings.

Here is the final CFP Top 25 Rankings from 2018 (released in early December 2018)

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Notre Dame
4. Oklahoma
5. Georgia
6. Ohio State
7. Michigan
8. UCF
9. Washington
10. Florida
11. LSU
12. Penn State
13. Washington State
14. Kentucky
15. Texas
16. West Virginia
17. Utah
18. Mississippi State
19. Texas A&M
20. Syracuse
21. Fresno State
22. Northwestern
23. Missouri
24. Iowa State
25. Boise State

Which teams have been ranked no. 1 in the rankings and how many times?

The following teams have been named as the no. 1 team in a version of the College Football Playoff rankings for at least one week.

  • Alabama: 18 weeks
  • Clemson: 8 weeks
  • Mississippi State: 3 weeks
  • Georgia: 2 weeks

One team has carried the no. 1 ranking through an entire rankings cycle, three times. In 2015, Clemson was the no. 1 team in every ranking released. In 2016, Alabama was the no. 1 team in every ranking released. In 2018, Alabama was the no. 1 team in every ranking released. Interestingly, each time that happened, the no. 1 team lost to the other team in the Championship Game.

How many SEC teams have been in the top 4 at one point?

Seven SEC teams have been in the top 4 at one point in the last five years of College Football Playoff rankings. They are Alabama, Auburn, Miss State, Ole Miss, LSU, Texas A&M and Georgia.

How many teams have been in the top 4 of the rankings at least once in three different seasons?

Alabama has been in the top 4 at least one week during every season since the playoff began. That’s five seasons.

Clemson has been in the top 4 at least once in four different seasons.

Ohio State and Notre Dame have been in the top 4 at least once in three different seasons.

A number of teams have been in the top 4 at least twice (Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma, Michigan, etc.)

Which teams have ended up making the actual Playoff and how many times?

2018: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Oklahoma
2017: Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama
2016: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Washington
2015: Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State, Oklahoma
2014: Alabama, Oregon, FSU, Ohio State

If you tally this up, ten different teams in college football have made the four-team playoff during the last five seasons. It breaks down as follows:

  • Alabama: 5
  • Clemson: 4
  • Oklahoma: 3
  • Ohio State: 2
  • Georgia: 1
  • Notre Dame: 1
  • Washington: 1
  • Michigan State: 1
  • Oregon: 1
  • FSU: 1

You can also breakdown the four-team playoff fields by conference as follows:

  • SEC: 2 different teams / 6 total appearances
  • ACC: 2 different teams / 5 total appearances
  • Big Ten: 2 different teams / 3 total appearances
  • Big 12: 1 team / 3 total appearances
  • Pac-12: 2 teams / 2 total appearances
  • Notre Dame: 1 appearance

Lastly, let’s look at the history of the four-team playoff itself

In recent years, the Playoff has been largely dominated by Alabama and Clemson. The two teams have squared off every year during the last four Playoffs including three of those times in the Championship Game. The record in that series is 2-2, but Clemson has bested Alabama twice in the Championship.

Here is the history of the Playoff outcomes going back to 2014:
2014

  • Rose Bowl: No. 2 Oregon 59, No. 3 Florida State 20
  • Sugar Bowl: No. 4 Ohio State 42, No. 1 Alabama 35
  • CFP Championship Game: No. 4 Ohio State 42, No. 2 Oregon 20

2015 

  • Orange Bowl: No. 1 Clemson 37, No. 4 Oklahoma 17
  • Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Alabama 38, No. 3 Michigan State 0
  • CFP Championship Game: No. 2 Alabama 45, No. 1 Clemson 40

2016 

  • Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Clemson 31, No. 3 Ohio State 0
  • Peach Bowl: No. 1 Alabama 24, No. 4 Washington 7
  • CFP Championship Game: No. 2 Clemson 35, No. 1 Alabama 31

2017 

  • Rose Bowl: No. 3 Georgia 54, No. 2 Oklahoma 48 (2OT)
  • Sugar Bowl: No. 4 Alabama 24, No. 1 Clemson 6
  • CFP Championship Game: No. 4 Alabama 26, No. 3 Georgia 23 (OT)

2018 

  • Orange Bowl: No. 1 Alabama 45, No. 4 Oklahoma 34
  • Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Clemson 30, No. 3 Notre Dame 3
  • CFP Championship Game: No. 2 Clemson 44, No. 1 Alabama 16