ATLANTA–As expected, UGA football moved up one precious spot in the 2.0 version of the College Football Playoff rankings.
And similar to last week, the Bulldogs (8-1 overall, SEC East champs) control their own fate with the four-team Playoff.
On Tuesday night, the CFP committee assigned a No. 5 ranking to Georgia, trailing only No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Michigan.
Rounding out the top 10: Oklahoma (6th), LSU (7th), Washington State, West Virginia and Ohio State.
How does UGA control its own Playoff destiny?
There are three factors at play here:
a) There are only four undefeated teams left in the Associated Press Top 10–Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Central Florida.
Consequently, under the guise of UGA beating ‘Bama for the SEC crown (Dec. 1 in Atlanta), there would be no chance of four perfect teams playing for the national title (Orange and Cotton bowls), ahead of the one-loss Dawgs.
(On the flip side, a two-loss UGA team would very likely be excluded from the national semifinals.)
b) In the four-year history of the College Football Playoff, a one-loss SEC champ has never been denied entry into the semifinals.
Why is that? Generally speaking, the SEC often leads the country in overall strength of schedule; and covering a sizable chunk of the last 20 years, the SEC traditionally boasts the most ranked teams in the media and coaches polls.
c) With its current top-five ranking, a hypothetical 12-1 UGA squad would be a shoo-in for a top-2 seed. In that case, Georgia would likely be playing at the Orange Bowl in Miami (closer proximity than Texas).
The upcoming slate: Auburn, UMass, Georgia Tech and Alabama in the SEC title game.
What’s the greater meaning behind Tuesday’s rankings?
The whole show’s certainly a fascinating watch; but as history demonstrates here, nothing can ever be written in stone during late October or early November.