To the surprise of many, the CFP committee crowned Tennessee the best team in the country in their first College Football Playoff ranking. At first, I didn’t think too much of it. After all, Georgia and Tennessee meet this week in Athens, which should sort everything else. However, following a little more thought, it’s become evident just how massive the implications for Georgia are this weekend.
If one thing is obvious from the committee’s initial rankings, they hold Tennessee’s resumé in high regard. Not only do they believe their victory over Alabama is the best win in the country thus far, but they also view their win over LSU as a substantial resumé builder. LSU was the highest-ranked two-loss team in the first edition of the CFP Rankings, coming in at #10, ahead of several one-loss teams.
As long as Tennessee doesn’t get boat-raced in Athens this weekend, they will most likely be in the College Football Playoff. If the committee already thinks the Vols are the top team in the country, a close loss on the road to Georgia isn’t going to keep them out of the playoff.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, don’t have that luxury. The committee doesn’t view their 49-3 victory over Oregon in Week 1 in the same regard as what Tennessee has accomplished through nine weeks. In fact, they don’t even believe it’s more impressive than Ohio State’s resumé, which leaves a lot to be desired.
If Georgia loses, even in a close game, they could find themselves on the outside looking in when the committee makes its decision. A loss at home will almost assuredly drop them out of the top four, and Georgia doesn’t have a Top 25 team remaining on their schedule.
While it won’t be impossible for Georgia to sneak their way in with a loss to Tennessee, it will be completely out of their hands. Even if the Bulldogs win out, they could find themselves left out if teams like Ohio State, Clemson, and TCU successfully run the table. Georgia could also find themselves left out if Tennessee falls in the SEC Championship to Alabama or LSU.
On the flip side of the conversation, Tennessee leapfrogging Georgia in the rankings could be the nail in their coffin. The Bulldogs don’t need any extra motivation, but they got some on Tuesday, and I’m sure Kirby Smart won’t let his team forget about it leading up to their clash on Saturday.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire