College Football Playoff Notebook: Alabama No. 1, but We're Just Getting Started

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2020

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

No matter the season or its circumstances, the first College Football Playoff ranking is exciting. That initial Top 25 means the much-anticipated four-team tournament is coming soon.

But every year, we implore you to be patient. The ranking is simply the start of a six-week process that includes a whole bunch of changes. The first poll has neverβ€”I repeat, neverβ€”included each eventual CFP qualifier in the Top Four.

As the rankings currently show Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State in the Top Four, remember the wise words of Anna Nalick: Breathe. Just breathe.

Right now, four Saturdays remain on the schedule. The order is guaranteed to change in the coming weeks.

Still, there is plenty to consider in this Top 25.

The committee placed Pac-12 teams in the teens because of a three-game sample, yet Ohio State is 4-0 and ranked fourth. Wouldn't it be more sensible for the Buckeyes to start lower and rise in the rankings as they actually play more games?

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Seventh-ranked Cincinnati has the highest-ever placement for a Group of Five program. The Bearcats need a little help, but they're at least in a decent position to start.

How is Georgia ranked No. 9 after two losses and two uninspiring wins in its last four games? Why is 3-2 Iowa at No. 24?

Several future-looking storylines have emerged, too.

Is there even a possibility the Pac-12 makes the playoff over a one-loss Alabama or Notre Dame? What is the best-case scenario for Cincinnati? Are the Bearcats in any danger of falling behind a Pac-12 champion? Despite a 28-point loss to Alabama, can Texas A&M actually make the CFP without playing for an SEC title?

These are all good conversations, and they're fun to think about. But my suggestion is to save your strongest emotions because the next few weekends will eliminate their value.

At this moment, the only clarity is found in the ACC, SEC and Big Tenβ€”and the notion that the committee has no respect for BYU.

Despite a 9-0 record, BYU is 14th. The Cougars couldβ€”even shouldβ€”be higher right now, but the committee has always used a low strength of schedule as evidence to drop a non-power school. Look at 8-0 Coastal Carolina and 7-0 Marshall in the 20s for further evidence.

(You should probably call Washington back, BYU.)

Otherwise, if neither Notre Dame (8-0) nor Clemson (7-1) loses, they'll play in the ACC Championship Game with a CFP berth at stake. If neither Alabama (7-0) nor sixth-ranked Florida (6-1) loses, they'll meet in the SEC Championship Game with the same reward on the line.

If either Ohio State (4-0) or No. 8 Northwestern (5-0) is undefeated and wins the Big Ten, that program will reach the CFP.

While we can confidently declare the ACC, SEC and Big Ten paths are straightforward, they, too, hinge on future results. Who knows?Β Notre Dame might lose twice!Β 

Debate your friends and followers. Post in all-caps. Call your favorite online or radio show and share your disbelief about Cincinnati or BYU or whichever team. But remember that by next Tuesday's new set of rankings, some of these exact conversations will have disappeared.

The only impactful arguments are still several weeks away.

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Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.