College Football Playoff Rankings: Initial 2021 rankings released

By Kevin Kelley -

The first College Football Playoff Rankings of the 2021 season have been released by the selection committee, and the Georgia Bulldogs open in first place.

Georgia is followed by Alabama (2), Michigan State (3), Oregon (4), and Ohio State (5). Cincinnati (6) and Michigan (7) are just outside the top five.

Cincinnati (6th) is currently the highest ranked team from a Group of Five conference. BYU is the next highest non-power team at No. 15. Check out the full CFP Top 25 rankings below.

College Football Playoff Rankings (Nov. 2)

1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Michigan State
4. Oregon
5. Ohio State
6. Cincinnati
7. Michigan
8. Oklahoma
9. Wake Forest
10. Notre Dame
11. Oklahoma State
12. Baylor
13. Auburn
14. Texas A&M
15. BYU
16. Ole Miss
17. Mississippi State
18. Kentucky
19. NC State
20. Minnesota
21. Wisconsin
22. Iowa
23. Fresno State
24. San Diego State
25. Pitt

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will release their Top 25 rankings each week on Tuesday through Nov. 30. Below is the schedule of dates (all times Eastern):

  • Tuesday, Nov. 2 – 7:00pm ET
  • Tuesday, Nov. 9 – 9:00pm ET*
  • Tuesday, Nov. 16 – 7:00pm ET
  • Tuesday, Nov. 23 – 7:00pm ET
  • Tuesday, Nov. 30 – 7:00pm ET
  • Sunday, Dec. 5 – Noon ET (Selection Day)

On Sunday, Dec. 5 at Noon ET, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will announce the Playoff Semifinal pairings and semifinal bowl assignments. Those will be followed by the pairings for the remainder of the New Year’s Six bowl games.

College Football Playoff Schedule

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Comments (31)

@KevinKelley,

Same Bowl Alliance, BCS, Bill Hancock Crew as before, Power Five Invitational run by BCS, LLC & non Autonomous Conference schools receive the same unsurprising results as from 1985-1994, 1995-2013, 2014-an even more Crooked Trust in the open in front of & with the straightfaced support of All 54 meat Puppet P5 Schools who aren’t in the top 12 every Year.

I’ll be paying attention to the AP’s unofficial Committee of 63 the rest of this Year in place of the what?… 15 Hand picked members of BCS, LLC Committee.

Don’t see why anyone is surprised where Cincy is. This is a power 5 tournament only run by the same. A playoff bid is worth millions so you think they are going to let anyone in that is not a P5 member? No chance.

I guess not surprised at the rankings, just surprised at how the independent selection committee isn’t as “independent” as I thought.

Think what you will, but something smells afoul with the top of the rankings. One loss Alabama at two seems strange. As if that loss didn’t count or something.

How about 2017 when Alabama didn’t even win the SEC-west and they were selected for the 4-team playoff (an opportunity they did not deserve, yet they eventually won)? Just like within the BCS process, qualifying for the post-season still retains a high and unsatisfying quotient of ‘beauty contest’, only now instead of two finalists – there are four. Until the ONLY qualification for the playoffs becomes Conference Champion – it will never change.

I would agree that being Conference champion should be the qualification. That way everyone knows what they gave to do to qualify. And if they don’t qualify, they know why. No more politicking necessary.

Well ESPN is up to their usual crap…..making sure no one other then the teams they want in the playoff,get in the playoff. No is surprised by the CFP rankings are they??

So basically the Selection Committee is the Dana White of college football. They are there to create compelling matchups for the playoff, not select the top four teams based on qualifications and merit.

I just wish they would be more clear about it.

The selection committee got it right in my opinion. The only thing I’d change is swap Michigan State to 2 and Alabama the 3. From there, it looks good to my eyes.

it’s always funny to see people get upset when teams like Boise, UCF and now Cincinnati get ranked lower in the polls.

Who you play matters. Had Cincinnati gone out and scheduled four quality out of conference opponents and beat them, they would be higher. Instead they played Miami (Ohio) and Murray State. When you play a weak conference schedule you have to increase the difficulty of your out of conference slate accordingly.

You can’t coast on scheduling and expect to get rewarded.

Cincinnati has played and beat to Power Five teams.

Alabama and Michigan State have beat six Power Five teams each. Ohio State and Oregon five each.

It’s not rocket science. It’s not “ESPN is up to their old tricks again.” It’s the way this has always worked.

How can you be a college football fan and not know this stuff already?

Good points. And I could agree with you on most of it. It just feels like there is an obvious bias a lot of times in order to get certain teams or conferences involved. That’s all.

Also, all P5 teams aren’t created equal (ie Rutgers, Vandy, etc.). Just because it’s a P5, doesn’t automatically conclude it’s a quality win.

Miami (Ohio) is a longtime annual local rivalry game. It makes more sense than Notre Dame v. Navy. But, Murray State from the collapsing OVC? You win right there. They already have those type skills in their own conference, so if they’d instead scheduled Liberty or an ACC school, it wouldn’t stink so much.
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At least they dared go on the road to Notre Dame and to Indiana.

You are simply highlighting the issues everyone else here has raised, except you seem to be expressing it in a canting manner. How is scheduling (along with Indiana and Notre Dame) Miami of Ohio and Murray State that different from say; Mercer and Southern Miss (Alabama), Youngstown State and Western Kentucky (Michigan State), Charleston Southern and UAB (Georgia), Akron and Tulsa (Ohio State) or, Fresno State and Stony Brook (Oregon)? Ans: Objectively, there isn’t much difference.

ESPN tricks begin with a promotion avalanche of “Who’s in?” during a time when baseball is being viewed and the bathing suit is our preferred choice of costume for the day. ESPN stresses this focus throughout the summer, into the month of September and up to the end of the ‘non-conference’ schedule. By that time, the majority of the schools have already lost at least one or more games and hence have been disqualified from the ESPN-defined sole purpose for the season. What begs the question from this protocol is not, “How can you be a college football fan and not know this stuff already?”, it is how can a college football fan accept this stuff?

It appears Conference USA is about to pass into antiquity and at the same time a new college football playoff plan is about to ascend. With what appear to soon be a 9 conferences FBS world, why not take the suggested 12-team playoff structure, mandate automatic bids to the 9 conference champions and reserve 3 spots for ‘deserving’ at-large selections. Then this affront presented every Sunday night from the CFP committee would simple be their ‘learned’ opinion of who they believe the 3 at-large selections should be. Then we can all tolerate the skepticism surrounding the selected 3 and understand the authority of the 9 earned postions.

I remember in 2016 Texas A&M was ranked #4 in the initial rankings, and most people were shocked they were ranked that high. They then proceeded to lose 3 of their last 4. These early rankings don’t mean anything. We’ll know a lot more month from now.

It is correct that not all Power 5 teams are equal.

As for the question “How is scheduling (along with Indiana and Notre Dame) Miami of Ohio and Murray State that different from say; Mercer and Southern Miss (Alabama)?”

The answer is that if your conference schedule includes Florida, LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Mississippi and Auburn, it’s not terrible to play Mercer… but if you conference schedule is Tulane, USF, SMU, and Temple, you simply have to do better in your non-conference scheduling.

You can’t penalize Alabama for scheduling Mercer and then reward Cincinnati for playing a schedule full of teams like Mercer. You have to decide if only wins matter or if you are going to look for quality wins.

You are operating from the flawed premise that all schools and conferences begin the season as equals, but that’s simply not the case. So, yes, the question really is, how can you not know this?

I think you are missing the point. It is not about whether the SEC or the Big Ten have constituencies that are superior to that of the Sun Belt or the MAC. (We all know they do!) This is about the inauthentic procedure in selection of the participants. For some reason you seem to believe that awareness of the prevarication gives it permissibleness. It does not! Ohio State in 2016, Alabama in 2017 and Notre Dame in 2020 did not earn their way into to field! They were invited. Currently, Alabama should not be penalized for scheduling Mercer; but then again, they should not be rewarded (with position #2!!) after losing to Texas A&M with two undefeated Power-5 teams ranked lower. The system is a Shemp episode masquerading as a Curly one and it is as if you are pulling a Bradley to watch it.

It’s not “inauthentic.”

It’s fact. Alabama, Michigan State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan, Wake Forest and most every other Power 5 team have played schedules that are more difficult than Cincinnati’s schedule.

The teams those Power 5 teams will face this year will produce more NFL caliber players than the teams on Cincinnati’s schedule. And it’s not even close. And yes, it matters.

Look that up I’m you’re thesaurus.

Alabama should be no lower than third at this time, but the committee chose to put them second because they know that if Alabama and Michigan State met this weekend, Alabama would be the clear favorite. In fact, if Alabama were to play any of the teams ranked below them, they’d be favored.

The system is not flawed, nor is it corrupt. It’s just that some people who claim to be fans have no clue how the system works. But there are some of us who watch the games, who understand the game and how it’s played, who understand how those of us who really get it digest the information, and those people completely understand that Alabama is ranked second in this poll because the deserve to be ranked second in this poll.

There exists a selection committee that consists of APPOINTED individuals.
That selection committee’s responsibility is to CONSTRUCT the college football rankings.
This 13-person cadre reaches their confined opinion which emerges to the public as if it is a CONCENSUS finding.
This transition from the opinion of a small selected group to an aggregate accord of fact is the definition of INAUTENTIC process.

In other words… …13 guys in a hotel room in Dallas, Texas decide who’s in/who’s out, announce their small collective opinion to the football public and the football public reacts as if Moses has descended from Mount Sinai with the tablets of the Testimony.

We all understand that the Power-5 athletic departments average revenues of ~$125 million, compared to an average revenue of ~$40 million for the Group of 5 which leads to differences when it comes to talent, budget, and average winning percentage. What I am discussing is this kabuki theater that passes as object selection process. Either we administratively address the differences between Power-5 and Group of 5 and formally separate them or we don’t and treat them as equals in all respects. i.e. A 12-team playoff with 9 conference champions and 3 at-large bids.

I hope I used enough short syllable words to hold your attention.

You clearly like to use words without understanding their meaning.

Appointed or not, the committee does their job. And they do it fairly and well. Just because you lack sufficient mental capacity to comprehend their decisions, it doesn’t render their judgement corrupt or inauthentic.

Just call it what it is, you dislike their opinion because you can’t understand how it’s reached.

That is a problem for you, not them.

Let’s also be clear, many of the schools who choose to be part of the Group of Five conferences CHOSE that spot. They weren’t forced. There is no reason to address the differences. Maybe you need to address the choices those schools made to move into the FBS. They could just as easily CHOOSE to move back to the FCS if the FBS is so unfair.

But they won’t. They understand the game. They know they aren’t equals, but they stay anyway. Nobody is forcing them. Stop acting like they don’t have a choice. Cincinnati is not a victim.

Within your retort you actually admit that the rankings are “…their opinion…” and concur that “…the committee does their job. And they do it fairly and well…” You’re engaging in a phenomenon known as, ‘involuntary opinion confirmation’. This is a circumstance where one’s brain does not distinguish between facts and the opinions that they already agree with. You are clearly immersed in this phenomenon and therefore your cognition has been compromised.

I accurately used the word inauthentic because when an opinion is cast (i.e. the rankings) as a consensus finding of fact, that is a fraudulent and bogus assertion.

You are either choosing to purposefully misunderstanding my comments or you are just half-witted. Either way, Good Luck.

You understand psychology about as well as you understand college football, which is to say, not very much.

The fact is, if Alabama played anyone ranked below them this weekend, they’d be favored. And they’d win. The committee knows this. That’s why they ranked them second in this week’s poll.

If every college football fan was honest, they’d admit that too.

Honestly, I don’t really care too much about the order of the rankings. They’re fine whatever they are.

What I would care about is if a media company was influencing the outcome of the rankings. Because then it would affect the validity of those rankings. So I just hope that isn’t the case.

Some of the comments make it sound like scheduling is easy. Let’s get real, the reason this website exists is because scheduling happens 5-10 years in the future! The P5’s have no reason to schedule a really good Group of 5 team. If they lose, it is a total defeat, if they win, they were supposed to win.

The P5 teams, depending on the number of conference games, will schedule three out of conference games:
• One Cakewalk – an FCS team, or a UConn! (Only 15 of the 130 FBS schools will NOT play an FCS team this year)
• One Semi-Decent Team – Group of 5
• One P5 Team or a Rivalry – for example, Clemson plays South Carolina or Iowa plays Iowa State and especially because many of the P5 conferences are “highly” suggesting playing at least one P5 game out of conference.

A P5 team can’t afford to play too many tough teams because they already have 8 or 9 P5 games. Therefore, a Group of 5 team is going to get lucky to have more than 1 or 2 P5 games on the schedule any year. Simply because of scheduling, it is almost impossible for a G5 team to get those key games that the current committee is requiring.

We have to move to a PLAYOFF with 12-16 teams ASAP. In my opinion, the best thing about college football is that on any given day, a team can pull off the upset. Most of us are rooting for the underdog on ALL of those games. Let’s make those games happen! Or, at least get rid of that smug Gary Barta!

Scheduling tough out of conference games can be done. BYU does it.

Cincinnati could schedule tougher out of conference games. When you play in a cupcake conference, you have to do better with your schedule if you expect to be taken seriously.

I get it, Cincinnati did schedule two teams (IND and ND), but the other two are killing them now. It’s no one’s fault but their own.

The only reason BYU can do it is because BYU has been considered a P5 school for scheduling purposes by all of the P5 conferences. BYU has 7 P5’s on the schedule this year. The most they have ever had, and it has taken 10+ years of independence to get there. One of those teams is probably one of the worst teams in the FBS.

Why isn’t BYU playing Utah the next two years? Because Utah doesn’t want to! BYU is nothing like the G5 teams. They don’t have scheduling restrictions, but they still have to have a team want to play them. What else could Cincinnati have done to improve their schedule this year?
• 8 games are already locked in with the American Conference. No luck there.
• They were lucky to have scheduled Notre Dame for a one game contract back in 2019. This is the best thing that could have happened to Cincy. BTW, BYU has been trying to schedule Notre Dame for the last game of a 2 for 1 contract for 9 years and finally had to concede to go to Las Vegas to get that final game in. Once again, because Notre Dame didn’t want to.
• Indiana – P5 team, but not historically a football powerhouse, but a good regional game. This turned out to be good.
• Miami Ohio is a pretty good rivalry that they have played the last 8 years or so. This probably should stay on their schedule.
• Murray State, yes, they should have probably found another game, but they are doing exactly what 115 other teams do; get a win.
The P5’s do not want to play tough games every week, so it is hard to schedule those P5 Opponents. This year is the most P5 teams that BYU has ever played, and it has taken 10+ years to get there! We need a real playoff system!

BYU didn’t “concede” to go to Vegas to play Notre Dame… they “agreed” to the game.

Notre Dame isn’t afraid to play BYU in Provo. That’s silly.

And BYU doesn’t seem to care as much about playing Notre Dame in Provo as some people think they should.

Again, that’s not a BYU problem.

And there isn’t a Power Five team running from Cincinnati. Cincinnati could have scheduled better than Miami and Murray State.

It’s okay that Cincinnati plays them. It’s even okay to consider it a rival. But to think Cincinnati is going to get some kind of push for beating Miami has to be a joke.

HeyArnold: You are out of touch!!!!! The big boys, P5 programs and Notre Dame, dictate the terms of all football scheduling. Why; because they can and MONEY!

For BYU to even play Notre Dame again, BYU ABSOLUTELY had to “concede” to play Notre Dame in Las Vegas. The BYU/Notre Dame contract was 2 for 1. Two games in South Bend and one in Provo. They may have ultimately “agreed” to play in Las Vegas, because Notre Dame had no intentions of EVER fulfilling the one game in Provo. Notre Dame offered to buy out the contract with BYU multiple times, but BYU really wanted to play Notre Dame. Now, Notre Dame is even the HOME team in Las Vegas in 2022 on NBC, and not even on ESPN. If Notre Dame was playing in Provo, BYU could have doubled the price of the tickets, still sold out, and the game would have been on ABC/ESPN. But now, BYU is subject to the ticket allotment that Notre Dame gives them. Notre Dame is not “afraid” to play BYU, but they clearly wanted more money, more control, and they certainly didn’t see an upside to play in Provo. Oh; and that’s what BYU had to give up just to play ONE game.

You are right, the Power 5 teams are not running and hiding from Cincinnati, but they certainly aren’t lining up to play them either. Georgia escaped with a last-minute field goal in last years Peach Bowl, but I’m sure NONE of the P5 schools are saying, “I hope we get Cincy during the post season!”

BYU could have said, “no.”

They didn’t.

I’m guessing they thought that the game was important enough to play under those conditions. If they didn’t want to play the game, they could have said no. It’s that simple.

You’re acting like BYU is the victim, but they clearly aren’t.

Georgia played Cincinnati without four starters in that Peach Bowl. Georgia was about as unmotivated as they could be and Cincinnati was very motivated. And Georgia still won.

Nobody fears Cincinnati.

Talk about out of touch.