CFA Top 30: College Football Playoff Lineup (appears) Set

Nick Saban

The Storyline

Selection Sunday is here, and the field appears to be set.

Championship Saturday offered some surprises, but the action on the field, for the most part, failed to live up to expectations. After watching Utah crush Oregon again on Friday night in the Pac-12 Championship Game, Saturday got off to a great start with Baylor stopping Oklahoma State just inches short of the goal line to hang on in a 21-16 nail biter for the Big 12 championship. But from there, the action mostly fizzled out.

Alabama’s win over Georgia in the SEC title tilt might not have been a complete surprise — it’s Alabama after all — but the Crimson Tide’s domination in a 41-24 outcome was a shocker. Georgia had given up 83 points in 12 games, and Nick Saban’s crew scored half of that in four quarters. It’s enough for Alabama to retake the No. 1 spot in our rankings, which they lost to Georgia back in October while the Bulldogs fall to No. 2.

Michigan, meanwhile, dominated Iowa in a 42-3 blowout in the Big Ten Championship Game that was essentially over just 10 minutes into the game. Michigan led 14-0 at that point, so it wasn’t an unmanageable deficit (yet), but it seemed clear by then that Iowa had failed to show up. In the American Athletic Conference Championship Game, Cincinnati got Houston’s best for one half, leading 14-13 headed into the lockers. A 21-point third quarter put the game away for the Bearcats in route to a 35-20 win. We’ve got Michigan holding steady at No. 3 with Cincinnati at No. 4 as the nation’s only remaining undefeated team.

The official College Football Playoff rankings will be released at noon ET on Sunday, and it’s likely that the committee will have Michigan at No. 2 ahead of No. 3 Georgia. But we’re not ready to throw out everything Georgia’s defense accomplished this year, and in a head-to-head with Michigan, we’ll stick with the ‘Dogs when the two square off in what will likely be an Orange Bowl matchup in Miami Gardens, Florida.

To be sure, this is not an objective process and the committee can do whatever it wants. That includes moving a two-loss Baylor all the way ahead of Cincinnati and rewarding the Bears for their win over the committee’s previous No. 5 Oklahoma State. But assuming they stick with Cincinnati, it appears the seeding in one of the semifinals is probably a lock with No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Cincinnati likely headed to Arlington, Texas, to play in the Cotton Bowl.

The rest of the bowl lineup will also be announced on Sunday as the regular season heads toward its traditional closing next Saturday when Army and Navy enter the spotlight at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The College Football America Top 30

Beyond the top four of Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and Cincinnati, we’ve got idle Notre Dame holding steady to round out the final spot in our Top 5.

Baylor makes a big jump from No. 12 to No. 6 with their win over Oklahoma State which drops to No. 9 with the loss. In between, No. 7 Ole Miss and No. 8 Ohio State were idle, and both maintain their rankings heading into the postseason. Oklahoma was also off this weekend, but slips a spot to No. 10 to make room for Oklahoma State’s fall.

The College Football America Top 30

1. Alabama (12-1)

2. Georgia (12-1)

3. Michigan (12-1)

4. Cincinnati (13-0)

5. Notre Dame (11-1)

6. Baylor (11-2)

7. Ole Miss (10-2)

8. Ohio State (10-2)

9. Oklahoma State (11-2)

10. Oklahoma (10-2)

11. Pittsburgh (11-2)

12. Utah (10-3)

13. Michigan State (10-2)

14. Iowa (10-3)

15. Clemson (10-3)

16. Oregon (10-3)

17. Wake Forest (10-3)

18. Arkansas (8-4)

19. Texas A&M (8-4)

20. Kentucky (9-3)

21. NC State (9-3)

22. BYU (10-2)

23. Minnesota (8-4)

24. Wisconsin (8-4)

25. Mississippi St. (7-5)

26. Purdue (8-4)

27. Penn State (7-5)

28. UCLA (8-4)

29. Arizona State (8-4)

30. Houston (11-2)

Published by Kendall Webb

Kendall Webb is a sports writer and photographer based in Middle Tennessee. He is a graduate of Kilgore College (A.A., 1992), the University of Texas at Austin (B.J., 1995) and Middle Tennessee State University (B.S., 2000), and is currently a master's candidate (A.L.M.) in Harvard University's extension studies program with a major in journalism.

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