The winding, halting 2020 college football season has brought us just hours away from the first set of College Football Playoff rankings.
What will that top four look like? The top three teams will assuredly consist of some ordering of Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State, all of whom are undefeated and have beaten top-five opponents this season. It’s the fourth spot where the Playoff committee must make some tough decisions.
Will it go with 7-1 Clemson, which lost an overtime thriller without Trevor Lawrence to Notre Dame earlier this year? That would set the ACC championship game up as a potential Playoff play-in game, though it’s worth wondering whether the Irish could get in if they split with the Tigers. The other likely candidate at No. 4 is 6-1 Florida, whose only defeat this year is to one-loss Texas A&M and who seems destined for a collision with Alabama in the SEC championship game.
Something else to note: the placement of teams such as Oregon, Texas A&M, BYU and Cincinnati. Those teams — the latter two, especially — appear to be on the outside looking in to the Playoff, barring any late-season chaos. Their initial placement in the rankings will go a long way in determining the likelihood of making the Playoff.
Think that doesn’t matter? Only two of the 24 teams to have made the Playoff were ranked outside the top 10 of the initial rankings: Ohio State (No. 16 in 2014) and Oklahoma (No. 15 in 2015). None of the last 20 teams has been ranked outside the top 10.
That’s doubly important for Cincinnati and BYU; only one non-Power 5 team (Notre Dame, in 2018) has ever made the Playoff. The highest rank a non-Power 5 team other had in the initial top 25 other than the Irish was UFC, ranked 12th in 2018. The Knights only moved up four spots over the course of the season, finishing No. 8 in the final CFP rankings. They were one of only four unbeaten FBS teams that year; the other three made the Playoff.
So yes, placement will be important come Tuesday’s unveiling. All the more reason to watch, right? With that, here’s everything you need to know to tune in:
What time are the College Football Playoff rankings released?
The College Football Playoff will unveil its first rankings at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Nov. 24. According to the official Playoff site, that will be the case for each of the ensuing rankings until Dec. 20, when the rankings will be released at noon.
CFP rankings schedule 2020
The CFP rankings will be released on four consecutive Tuesdays from Nov. 24 to Dec. 15. The final rankings will be unveiled Dec. 20, the weekend all Power 5 conference championship games are played.
That said, the second set of rankings, to be unveiled on Dec. 1, will coincide with college basketball’s Champions Classic (No. 9 Duke vs. No. 13 Michigan State and No. 10 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Kansas). Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET, so it’s uncertain how that will affect the timing of the rankings release; in 2019, the rankings were released between the two games.
Here’s a look at the entire schedule:
CFP selection show channel, how to watch
Each of the Playoff rankings will take place on ESPN and can be livestreamed on WatchESPN. The first set of rankings will be unveiled at roughly 7 p.m. ET, as will all of the ensuing rankings leading into the College Football Playoff selection show on Sunday, Dec. 20.
Projected CFP rankings: Who are the top four teams in college football?
1. Alabama (7-0)
2. Ohio State (4-0)
3. Notre Dame (8-0)
4. Clemson (7-1)
According to SN’s post-Week 12 Playoff picture, that top four will look like No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Clemson, with Florida and Cincinnati as the first teams out, respectively.
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