Notre Dame lands at No. 4 in first College Football Playoff rankings

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

The first set of College Football Playoff rankings pegged Notre Dame at No. 4 in the grand reveal on ESPN Tuesday night.

As far as Brian Kelly is concerned, it was hardly must-see TV.

“I want to pay attention to the last one,” the Notre Dame head coach said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “That’s the one that really matters.

“Does this matter, this one? Do they put you in the playoffs for this one? I don’t think so.”

For the record, Alabama is No. 1, with Clemson No. 2 and LSU No. 3. Just on the outside looking in are No. 5 Michigan and No. 6 Georgia.

If the playoff started today, Alabama (8-0) and Notre Dame (8-0) would meet Dec. 29 in the Cotton Bowl at Arlington, Texas in one semifinal, with Clemson (8-0) and LSU (7-1) clashing in the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla., on the same date.

The CFP National Championship is set for Jan. 7 in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

Two of the teams ahead of the Irish in the first rankings, No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 LSU, meet Saturday in Baton Rouge, La.

Notre Dame’s only victory over a team in the current top 25 is its season-opening 24-17 conquest of No. 5 Michigan. Syracuse, at No. 19, is the only one of ND’s four remaining opponents that made the rankings.

“We’ve been down this road before,” Kelly said. “We’ve been selected for this one, but it doesn’t get you anything. For us, the one that we’re interested in — the one that we’ll watch, probably we’ll watch it as a team — is the last one. That’s the one that we want to focus on. That’s the one we’ll pay attention to.”

The final reveal is on Dec. 2. That’s also when the semifinal pairings and other New Year’s Six matchups will be announced.

In between ESPN has four more shows on Tuesday nights, all but next week’s telecast set for 7 p.m. Eastern time. That one will start at approximately 9 p.m., working around ESPN’s men’s college basketball coverage.

What can the first set of playoff rankings tell us?

In the first four years of the playoffs only eight of the 16 teams actually ended up making the playoff fields. Texas A&M, in 2016, is the only team to fall completely out of the top 25 by season’s end.

Two of the 16 playoff teams — 2014 Ohio State (16th) and 2015 Oklahoma (15th) — came from outside the top the top eight of the first rankings and are the only teams to do so. In the past two season, all eight playoff teams were No. 6 or higher in the initial rankings.

Notre Dame had coach Brian Kelly yells out to an official during the Irish victory over Navy on Oct. 27 in San Diego.

Games Played through Saturday, Oct. 27

1. Alabama (8-0)

2. Clemson (8-0)

3. LSU (7-1)

4. Notre Dame (8-0)

5. Michigan (7-1)

6. Georgia (7-1)

7. Oklahoma (7-1)

8. Washington State (7-1)

9. Kentucky (7-1)

10. Ohio State (7-1)

11. Florida (6-2)

12. UCF (7-0)

13. West Virginia (6-1)

14. Penn State (6-2)

15. Utah (6-2)

16. Iowa (6-2)

17. Texas (6-2)

18. Mississippi State (5-3)

19. Syracuse (6-2)

20. Texas A&M (5-3)

21. NC State (5-2)

22. Boston College (6-2)

23. Fresno State (7-1)

24. Iowa State (4-3)

25. Virginia (6-2)