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UPDATE: Alabama #3 in initial committee rankings

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Is it really almost that time of the season? Yes. Yes, it is.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 CFP Semifinal at the Orange Bowl - Alabama v Oklahoma Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UPDATE: Alabama is #3.

Clemson is #5 but ESPN gives them a 75% chance to make the field, primarily because they play no one while the top four teams beat each other up.

And, so it begins. So much bloviating over one of the most fluid and dynamic ranking systems in all of sports. With the heaviest lifting still ahead for nearly all of our contenders (cough, not you Clemson, cough), I really wouldn’t read too much into tonight’s festivities. Still, it is a nice barometer of perceptions. Can Alabama and Clemson, with their conference schedules having shaped up to be craptacular to date, get some early traction?

It will be interesting to see if the eyeball test trumps the Committee’s long-standing rationale: quality wins matter more than a loss. As I wrote into today’s JP, you know the fix is in for Clemson if some of those second-tier ACC teams start creeping in at the bottom of the T25 (a la Virginia, a potential ACCCG dance partner, divisional partner 5-3 Louisville, 5-3 Va. Tech, or another potential CG matchup with 6-3 Pitt.)

So, tune into ESPN at 8:00 Central and play along.

But, for giggles, here are our predictions for tonight...and they are all over the place:

Erik

  1. LSU — toughest schedule played by a wide margin and undefeated. No-brainer
  2. Ohio State — Not a murderer’s row, but impressive in demolishing ranked Cincy and Wisconsin; FAU isn’t a pushover either.
  3. Georgia — If the wins matter, then a close conference loss in a road rivalry won’t hurt too badly — Notre Dame and Florida are good mounts over the fireplace.
  4. Penn State — Quality wins against ranked Michigan and Iowa. That’ll do it.
  5. Alabama — Slighter tougher schedule than Clemson (by a nose); more impressive effort on the road against a common opponent — and CU looked awful at home against those same Aggies.
  6. Clemson — Like Alabama, there’s just not much on paper here for the Tigers to be judged by after A&M, a game where they were singularly unimpressive. Louisville...I guess?

I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Alabama or Clemson knocked out by Oklahoma either, and the No. 2 and 4. teams in the country relegated to at least 6th or lower in the initial rankings.

CB:

  1. LSU
  2. Ohio State
  3. Alabama
  4. Clemson
  5. Penn State
  6. Georgia

Brent:

  1. LSU
  2. Ohio State
  3. Alabama
  4. Oregon
  5. Clemson
  6. Penn State

Josh:

  1. LSU
  2. Ohio State
  3. Alabama
  4. Clemson
  5. Penn State
  6. Oklahoma

Okay, you’ve got about 45 minutes. Hit us with your predictions and why in the comments below. And then we can grumble/grouse/cheer in about an hour when we know the landscape more fully.