College Football Playoff Rankings 2018: Official Committee Poll Ahead of Week 10

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2018

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2018, file photo, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) throws a pass during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Missouri in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The front-runners have clearly been established in the Heisman race, but the question now is who else can emerge with a late rush? (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The first College Football Playoff rankings were unveiled Tuesday evening without too many surprises atop the poll.

Below, we'll take a look at those rankings and break down the key storylines from the announcement.

             

Rankings

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. LSU

4. Notre Dame

5. Michigan

6. Georgia

7. Oklahoma

8. Washington State

9. Kentucky

10. Ohio State

11. Florida

12. UCF

13. West Virginia

14. Penn State

15. Utah

16. Iowa

17. Texas

18. Mississippi State

19. Syracuse

20. Texas A&M

21. NC State

22. Boston College

23. Fresno State 

24. Iowa State 

25. Virginia

            

Storylines

TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 27: A group of Clemson Tigers defenders make a tackle for loss against Jacques Patrick #9 of the Florida State Seminoles during the game at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida. Clemson won 59-10. (Ph
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Not surprisingly, Alabama and Clemson sit atop the rankings, with the two major programs sitting undefeated. A spot atop the rankings is nothing new for them.

Alabama is looking to defend its title, and boy, does it look more than capable. The Crimson Tide have won every game this season by 20 or more points, though dates with LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn still beckon. 

Still, with a loaded defense and a Heisman candidate in Tua Tagovailoa, who has yet to throw an interception this season while tossing 25 touchdown passes and completing 70.4 percent of his passes. Those are absurd numbers. 

Speaking of absurdity, the Clemson defense has kicked into high gear, giving up a total of 20 points in its past three games. That unit is third in the nation in yards allowed per game (263.9) and tied with Kentucky for the fewest points allowed per contest (13.0). While the defense has been dominant, quarterback Trevor Lawrence has lived up to the hype, energizing an already dangerous offense. 

Clemson seems primed for its fourth straight trip to the College Football Playoff.

Then there's Notre Dame, with a resume that includes a win over Michigan. Stanford and Virginia Tech falling to the ranks of mediocrity this season hasn't helped the Fighting Irish's postseason chances, though an unblemished Notre Dame seems like a pretty good bet to reach the playoff. 

Nonetheless, the College Football Playoff Committee liked LSU's resume more than than of Notre Dame, a major storyline to follow going forward, especially if LSU knocks off Alabama.

There's also the the long list of one-loss contenders, which includes LSU, Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma, Washington State, Kentucky and Ohio State, among others. Some of those teams will be weeded out of the conversation in the coming weeks. LSU has to beat Alabama to remain in the playoff picture, for instance, while Michigan will face Ohio State on Nov. 24. 

And this upcoming weekend, Georgia will face Kentucky with the SEC East hanging in the balance, a game few folks would have expected to have such enormous repercussions coming into the season. 

Don't forget about No. 12 UCF, either. The Knights remain undefeated and will be hoping to convince the committee that they deserve a place in the playoff after missing out last year. They're probably a long shot—given their status outside of the Top 10 this week—but they will remain in the conversation, however peripherally, if they remain undefeated. 

The 2018 season has already had its fair share of shocking upsets, so a few contenders dropping games to unexpected opponents shouldn't be ruled out, either. Very little is certain at this juncture of the season, with the exception of perhaps Alabama and Clemson once again finding their way into the postseason.

That seems to be an annual tradition at this point.

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