Alabama head coach Nick Saban doesn't care about the College Football Playoff rankings. His opinion might be a little different now that Alabama is looking up at a fellow SEC member.
To the surprise of many, Georgia, not Alabama is the top-ranked team in the country in the inaugural 2017 CFP rankings, which were released Tuesday. The Crimson Tide are ranked No. 2, followed by Notre Dame and Clemson in the final two playoff spots.
Oklahoma and Ohio State are the two teams on the outside looking in at No. 5 and No. 6, respectively.
Here is a look at how the entire poll played out:
3. Notre Dame
6. Ohio State
7. Penn State
11. Oklahoma State
13. Virginia Tech
15. Iowa State
16. Mississippi State
20. NC State
24. Michigan State
25. Washington State
The Crimson Tide are off to a typically brilliant start, carrying a preseason No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press poll all the way to eight straight wins—seven of which came by double digits. They close the regular season with three of their last four games against ranked opponents, beginning with No. 19 LSU on Saturday.
Saban, for his part, wants his team to remain intently focused on the tasks ahead rather than the rankings—a process he categorized as "poison" Monday.
"I could care less about the poll," Saban told reporters. "What significance does a poll have right now? All we're talking about right here is the challenge of our season, and where are we going to be in the poll if we don't play well in the next four games?
"So I'm focused on the next four games. I could care less about the poll. You won't see me waste any time watching TV or who is one and who is two. It doesn't really matter. What really matters is how you play the rest of the season."
Georgia sits atop in the rankings behind a start that was apparently more impressive in the eyes of the committee. The Bulldogs handed Notre Dame its only loss of the season in Week 2 and feature an elite defense and ground game. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are arguably the best one-two punch at running back in the country, and head coach Kirby Smart's defense sits third nationally in points allowed.
Much like Saban, Smart follows his mentor's footsteps in having no time to care about the rankings.
"You talk about rat poison a lot, things like that," Smart told reporters, echoing Saban's sentiments. "But we don't really have to address if you confront it from the beginning. So the rankings that have been coming out to this point, the AP, the same thing, it's just a distraction. It's just a matter of who can manage it best and which team's mature enough to handle it. Because it has zero outcome on performance on Saturday. It's only a distractive measure that we have to contend with."
Ohio State and Wisconsin appear on track to meet in the Big Ten Championship Game, a contest that would in all likelihood determine a playoff spot if they both win out. The Buckeyes scored their most impressive win of the season Saturday against Penn State, coming back from a 35-20 deficit entering the fourth quarter for a 39-38 win.
J.T. Barrett put himself arguably at the top of the Heisman race with a career-defining performance, throwing for 328 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for another 95. Barrett finished the game with 16 straight completions.
Penn State, which entered the weekend No. 2 in the AP and Amway Coaches polls, sits at No. 7. The Nittany Lions' best hope at a playoff spot would be to become this year's version of last season's Buckeyes and win the remainder of their games while hoping a two-loss Wisconsin or Ohio State takes the conference title.
Notre Dame and Clemson sit in the final two playoff spots thanks mostly to their strength of schedule. The Fighting Irish's only loss this season came by one point to the nation's top-ranked team. They have reeled off six straight wins since, including double-digit triumphs over Michigan State, USC and NC State.
Clemson's only loss was a wonky Friday night defeat at Syracuse. The Tigers have wins over Auburn, Louisville and Virginia Tech on their resume.