The selection committee announced the first of six sets of rankings Tuesday on ESPN.
The semifinals will be held this season at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., and the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on December 28. The national championship game is January 13 in New Orleans.
The first official College Football Playoff rankings were announced Tuesday night, and the Big Ten and SEC control the top four - at least for now. Then, despite the ridiculous winning streak of the team and the pedigree of the national champion, Swinney will make his team play as if he had to win to sneak.
Penn State's strength of record - a metric used to determine how a team has played against its competition - is No. 2 in the country. Not even the advanced metrics, such as FPI and SP+, which both rate Clemson higher than Penn State. But you could argue Cincinnati and/or Memphis deserve to be higher than Wake Forest.
If you consider the kind of season we've had with losing Feleipe Franks and a whole host of other injuries, a questionable offensive line, a new quarterback who, up until now, had not started a competitive game of football outside of family flag football, in seven years, isn't too bad.
As additional proof of its emphasis on schedules, the committee positioned Florida and Auburn forward of unbeaten No. 12 Baylor (Eight-Zero) and method forward of unbeaten No. 17 Minnesota (Eight-Zero), which turned up 4 spots decrease than its AP rating because it prepares for an enormous residence recreation with Penn State. The Bruins have won three straight games after a awful start and are still in control of their Pac-12 South championship hopes. The Utes have been dominant, but coach Chip Kelly could turn this into his first signature win at UCLA and ruin the Pac-12's hope of a Utah-Oregon title game matching 11-1 teams.
Louisiana State sits in second, followed by Alabama in third and Penn State in fourth.
Interestingly enough, Texas A&M's fate may help the case of both Alabama and Clemson. The Bulldogs might be more at their level. Stingley, a freshman, is tied for the SEC lead in interceptions (four) and leads the conference in passes defended (13). Clemson has won five straight in the rivalry and most have not been close.
The Tigers haven't lost a game yet.
N.C. State had been competitive with the Tigers before last year's 41-7 loss at Clemson.