Athens — The Georgia Bulldogs are right where they were last year when the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season were released – at No. 6. The key now is not falling back.
The CFP’s selection committee bestowed that ranking on 7-1 Georgia as it released the first ratings of the 2019 season Tuesday night on national television. That makes makes the Bulldogs the highest-ranked, one-loss team in college football at this point. As long as Georgia is able to win the rest of its games, that would place it on a path to reach the national semifinals as SEC champions.
What would happen to a one-loss SEC title game loser is the great debate at this point. But that’s all conjecture.
It all becomes moot for the Bulldogs (4-1 SEC) if they drop another game anywhere, starting with Saturday’s home game against Missouri (5-3, 2-2). Accordingly, coach Kirby Smart wasn’t about to discuss scenarios.
“I don’t have any idea, not the least bit,” he said when asked where he thought his team might be ranked 2½ hours before the show aired. “I’m so tied in with what we’ve got this week, I don’t even think about that. I don’t have any idea and don’t care.
"Everyone knows it doesn't matter. What matters is how we play against Missouri. That's the only thing we can control."
Sixth is good. Georgia also was No. 6 when last year's rankings were released. The one-loss Bulldogs won out the regular season and moved up to No. 4 by the time it met Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. After the narrow loss to the Crimson Tide, UGA ended up fifth in the final CFB rankings and missed the playoffs.
Georgia was also a one-loss team when it reached the CFP finals in 2017. That year, the Bulldogs opened at No. 1 in the initial rankings, dropped to 7 after losing to Auburn on the road the next week, then gradually moved back up before re-entering at No. 3 after defeating Auburn handily in the conference championship
The Bulldogs then defeated Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl before losing to a one-loss Alabama team in the national championship game.
Tuesday night, Ohio State was ranked No. 1, followed by LSU, Alabama and Penn State in the initial Top 4 this year. Undefeated defending national champion Clemson was a somewhat surprising fifth in these first ratings, which are decided by an appointed committee utilizing a variety of data.
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