The College Football Playoff committee unveiled its initial rankings Tuesday night, and with it, the committee likely sealed the fate of all but seven programs.
Since the beginning of the CFP era, 29 of the 32 teams to reach the playoff were ranked in the top seven in the initial rankings. Only 2014 Ohio State (No. 16), 2015 Oklahoma (No. 15) and 2019 Oklahoma (No. 9) made the playoff after being ranked outside the top seven.
That’s good news for Michigan, Alabama and TCU, the three teams that sit directly outside the top four.
They could be fighting for two spots as Tennessee and Ohio State may have already received their golden tickets. Since 2016, every team ranked in the top two of the first CFP poll made the playoff. Only 2014 Mississippi State and 2015 LSU failed to make the semifinals after ranking in the top two.
The last six national championships have been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the first CFP poll.
The most vulnerable team? That would appear to be No. 3 Georgia. 2020 Clemson is the only team to make the playoff after ranking No. 3 in the first poll. The No. 4-ranked team made the playoff 50 percent of the time.
It’s possible — however unlikely — that a team out of the Pac-12 or No. 10 LSU or No. 11 Ole Miss (if Alabama beats LSU) wins out and plays its way into the playoff. As the numbers show, it would be truly historic. College football is known for producing wild moments. A team emerging from outside the top seven would be the wildest of all.