College Football Playoff Top 25
1. Miss. St. 6-0
2. Florida St. 7-0
3. Auburn 5-1
4. Mississippi 7-0
5. Oregon 6-1
6. Alabama 6-1
7. TCU 5-1
8. Michigan St. 6-1
9. Kansas St. 5-1
10. Notre Dame 6-1
11. Georgia 6-1
12. Arizona 5-1
13. Baylor 6-1
14. Arizona St. 5-1
15. Nebraska 6-1
16. Ohio St. 5-1
17. Utah 5-1
18. Oklahoma 5-2
19. LSU 6-2
20. West Virginia 5-2
21. Clemson 5-2
22. UCLA 5-2
23. East Carolina 5-1
24. Duke 6-1
25. Louisville 6-2
Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Mississippi are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings.
The first of seven Top 25 rankings compiled by a 12-member selection committee was released Tuesday night. The selection committee will ultimately pick the four teams to play in the national semifinals and set the matchups for other four marquee New Year's Day bowls that are part of the playoff rotation.
"It was extremely difficult, more difficult than any of us had expected having gone through our mock selections before," Arkansas athletic director and committee chairman Jeff Long said.
Oregon was fifth and Alabama was sixth, giving the Southeastern Conference's West Division four of the top six teams. There are still four games remaining matching those SEC West rivals, starting with Saturday's matchup of Auburn and Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.
The final rankings will be released Dec. 7, the day after the most of the conference championships are decided.
TCU was seventh, Michigan State was eighth, Kansas State ninth and Notre Dame was 10th.
Mississippi State and defending national champion Florida State are the only undefeated teams left among the Big Five conferences and also hold the two spots in the AP Top 25 poll. No. 3 was where the differences started between the playoff rankings and the AP media poll.
The AP voters had Alabama at No.3 and Auburn at No. 4. Oregon was fifth, Notre Dame was sixth and Ole Miss was seventh after losing for the first time this season at LSU on Saturday. Ole Miss beat Alabama at home earlier this month.
This is the first year for the playoff format in college football, and the list is the first indication of how the committee is evaluating teams' playoff potential.
The committee creates small groups of teams, debates their merits and ranks the teams using as many votes as needed to come up with a consensus. Members are given reams of data on each FBS team and each member is allowed to judge those numbers however they determine is best.
Some frequently asked questions about the committee, the rankings and the playoff:
Q: How does the committee rank the teams? Is it like the AP Top 25?
A: No, the process is nothing like the AP college football poll, where voters submit ballots and the teams are ranked using a points system. The committee will create small groups of teams, debate their merits and rank the teams using as many votes as needed to come up with a consensus.
Q: Why top 25? The playoff only has four teams.
A: The committee will also create the matchups and pick some of the teams to play in the four other bowl games involved in the playoff rotation. Those games are the Cotton Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl. Those teams will be chosen using the highest ranked teams after the playoff matchups have been set and considering the contracts certain conferences have with certain bowls. Also, the committee is responsible for choosing the best team from the Group 5 conferences — the American Athletic Conference, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference — which is guaranteed a spot in one of the New Year's bowls, no matter how far down the rankings.
Q: Who is on this committee?
A: The panel is made up of twelve members: Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, committee chairman; Southern California athletic director Pat Haden; Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich; Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez; West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck; Former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne; Former Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington coach Tyrone Willingham; Former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese; Former NCAA vice president Tom Jernstedt; Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Former USA Today sports writer Steve Wieberg and Former Air Force superintendent and retired Lieutenant General Mike Gould. Former Mississippi quarterback Archie Manning was part of the committee, but recently had to step down because of some health issues. He will not be replaced.
Q: Where will they be meeting?
A: A large meeting room in a resort hotel in Grapevine, Texas, just outside of Dallas.
Q: When will the rankings be released?
A: Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN for the next six weeks. The final rankings and pairings for the playoff and four other New Year's bowls will be released Sunday, Dec. 7 at around 12:30 p.m.
Q: What should we expect?
A: Hard to say. The most interesting thing about the first rankings could be how similar they are to the AP and coaches' polls. However it turns out, it's important to remember there are a lot of games to be played and there is a good chance at least two of the teams in the first top four won't make the playoff.