Dienhart: Expect SEC teams to sit atop initial CFP rankings

Dienhart: Expect SEC teams to sit atop initial CFP rankings

The College Football Playoff committee will unveil its first poll on Tuesday, which will happen each subsequent Tuesday until the four-team playoff is announced on Sunday, Dec. 3.

How will the top four shake out when the first poll is announced on Halloween? Here’s how I see things shaking out:

  1. Alabama (8-0)
  2. Georgia (8-0)
  3. Notre Dame (7-1)
  4. Ohio State (7-1)

Bama lacks a marquee win—FSU was No. 3 in the opener when it lost to the Tide–but has been ultra-dominant. Georgia has the best win of this group, taking down Notre Dame 20-19 in South Bend. The Bulldogs also have beaten Mississippi State. The Irish have toppled Boston College, Michigan State, USC and N.C. State. Ohio State has a big win vs. Penn State and its only loss was a quality one: vs. Oklahoma in Columbus.

Just on the other side of the fence, I have Clemson (7-1) No. 5 and Oklahoma (7-1) No. 6. The Tigers have nice wins vs. Auburn, at Louisville and at Virginia Tech but an ugly loss at Syracuse. The Sooners have a big win at Ohio State but lost at home to Iowa State.

The Buckeyes (7-1) made a big statement on Saturday by taking down unbeaten Penn State in a 39-38 thriller in the Horseshoe. Ohio State already has a loss (at home to Oklahoma), so it knows it has no wiggle room if it wants to make the playoff for a second year in a row as the Buckeyes look for their first national title since 2014. OSU still has games at Iowa, vs. Michigan State and at Michigan.

The Nittany Lions (7-1) aren’t out of the hunt, but they must win-out and get help from other schools. They have a nice win vs. Michigan and a tough road victory at Iowa. PSU is at Michigan State this week. Win that, and Penn State should cruise. Still, the loss at Ohio State was a huge blow to the Nittany Lions’ playoff hopes.

And don’t forget about 8-0 Wisconsin. Yes, the Badgers lack a glistening resume, but if they run the table and win the Big Ten, they figure to earn a spot in the playoff. UW’s best win? Vs. Northwestern.

There is still a lot of football to be played, so expect a lot more movement.

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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