The 2021 college football season has hit something of a reset button as it heads into the final five weeks of play.
Despite all the chaos through the first nine weeks of the season — in which a record-61 teams among the AP Top 25 have lost — several of the usual suspects remain the most likely teams to make the College Football Playoff. Speaking of which, those are the only rankings that truly matter for the remainder of the season, as it’s up to the CFP selection committee to determine which four teams will get the opportunity to play for the national championship.
There appears to be only one certainty heading into the first set of rankings: Georgia will be the No. 1 team in the country. Its defense is among the best to take a college football field in several years, while the offense, led by quarterback Stetson Bennett, has no obvious deficiencies to hold the Bulldogs back.
Beyond Georgia, it’s anyone’s guess.
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Cincinnati, which ranks No. 2 in both the AP and Coaches polls, has a history of being undervalued by the selection committee. The Bearcats get the “College GameDay” treatment in Week 10, still have No. 23 SMU on their schedule and have two Power 5 victories on their resume in Indiana and Notre Dame, the latter of which is ranked No. 8 in the non-CFP polls. Will that be enough to convince the committee of Cincinnati’s playoff worthiness?
Oklahoma is the only 9-0 team in the country, and has come on strong of late after a weeks-long slow start to the season. How the committee views the Sooners’ resurgence under quarterback Caleb Williams will be worth watching. Then there’s Alabama which — at 7-1 on the season — would be the only top-four team with a loss. But many pundits also view the Crimson Tide as also the only team with the resume and talent to match Georgia. Undefeated Michigan State and one-loss Ohio State, Oregon and Notre Dame will also watch Tuesday’s unveilings with great interest.
There still is a lot of football left to be played, but teams would much prefer to be within striking distance than have to overcome a subpar Playoff ranking. With that, Sporting News presents the first 2021 top-25 rankings for the College Football Playoff:
MORE: College football polls: Updated AP Top 25, Coaches Poll rankings after Week 9
College Football Playoff rankings 2021
Who are the top four CFP teams of the final CFP poll of 2021?
Who are the first two teams out of the final CFP poll of 2021?
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CFP top 25 rankings from the final CFP poll of 2021