Can you believe it? Tennessee is the No. 1 team in the land once again. It’s been 20+ years, but the Volunteers have made it back to the top of the college football world. Tennessee debuted at the No. 1 spot in the initial College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night, edging out Ohio State and Georgia.
It wasn’t particularly a surprise, considering all the wins Tennessee has racked up over the past two months. At LSU, Alabama, and blowing away Kentucky just two days before the rankings came out all contributed to the decision.
CFP Selection Chair Boo Corrigan explained the committee’s approach to placing Tennessee No. 1 after the rankings came out.
“The debate over the top 25 rankings were extensive and very animated, particularly at the top,” Corrigan said. “A case was made for Ohio State to be No. 1, for Georgia and for Tennessee, and there were good arguments for each one of the schools.
“At the end of the debate, the committee voted Tennessee No. 1 because of their impressive road win at LSU and their victory over Alabama, and Alabama is a team that the committee respects highly.”
We know that last statement to be true, as evidenced by Alabama being placed ahead of undefeated TCU.
In the end, at least for this week, Ohio State and Georgia were lacking in the wins department. Georgia has an impressive win over Oregon, but that’s all. Ohio State beat Penn State last week, likely pushing them ahead of the Bulldogs.
“Ohio State has a powerful offense and a very solid defense, impressive win last week over Penn State,” Corrigan said. “Georgia has been dominant this season, which has been plain to see, in particular the win over Oregon at the start of the season. But Tennessee’s two wins against those two strong opponents really made a difference.”
The surprise of the night to most was LSU coming in at No. 10. That definitely boosted Tennessee’s case to be No. 1, and the tinfoil hat part of me wants to point out that it sets up a primetime, top ten matchup on Saturday night on ESPN.
Regardless, starting a two-loss LSU that high sets up an interesting potential run to the finish for the Tigers. If LSU beats Alabama this week, they have a path straight to the SEC Championship. Could a two-loss LSU cause some chaos in the CFP rankings?
Corrigan explained the move last night.
“Well, I think in large part, the win over Mississippi, the win over Mississippi State,” Corrigan said of LSU. “They did lose to Tennessee as well as to Florida State in the season, but they seem to be getting better and better once Coach Kelly and the quarterback have kind of meshed a little bit, if you will, and we saw them coming off of that Mississippi win as being a team that was worthy of being in the top 10.”
That game down in Baton Rouge should have your full attention on Saturday night.
As it does every year, it will all work itself out on the field. LSU-Alabama is pretty much an elimination game. The Tennessee-Georgia result will make each side’s path very clear. And Ohio State-Michigan will more than likely be an elimination game as well. Clemson is on a collision course with North Carolina, while TCU is going to have to keep dodging bullets down the homestretch of Big 12 play.
The run to the final four is already well underway, but the scenarios are becoming clearer now. Come Saturday night, we’ll have a pretty good idea of what needs to happen for Tennessee going forward.