Alabama has been dubbed as the No. 1 team in the first 2018 College Football Playoff rankings, the committee revealed Tuesday night on ESPN. Clemson, LSU and Notre Dame followed in order. Michigan and Georgia were fifth and sixth, respectively.
How those teams shook out is different from the most recent Associated Press Top 25 poll, which has LSU and Notre Dame flipped. Alabama, however, has been the top-ranked team all season in AP’s eyes.
“There is no secret around here,” UA offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher said Tuesday afternoon of the target on Alabama’s back. “We’ve had a lot of success in the past. But that doesn’t guarantee success in the future, and we know what we have as a team.”
Last year, Alabama was No. 2 in the first CFP rankings and Georgia was first. The two ended up playing in the national championship game, where the Crimson Tide won in overtime.
Back to this season, though.
“The reality of it is, like back when I was a player, they had the big-time bus and then they had the ROY bus — the rest of y’all,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “It’s kind of Alabama and the rest of y’all. We’re just glad to be on the ROY bus right now and still have a chance.”
Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame are the only undefeated teams in the top 10. Central Florida hasn’t lost a game either but falls lower in the ranks at 12th.
When taking strength of schedule into consideration, Alabama has played just one team in the top 25 so far. It defeated No. 20 Texas A&M earlier this season, 45-23.
Of course, Alabama is headed to No. 3 LSU this weekend. UA will also host No. 18 Mississippi State on Nov. 10 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“This month, the games that we’ve got will be the biggest challenges for this team so far,” Pierschbacher said. “I think that we kind of put our heads down and go to work.”
If the Crimson Tide beats the Tigers on Saturday, then Alabama clinches the West and is guaranteed a spot in the SEC Championship Game. That means it could play either No. 6 Georgia or No. 9 Kentucky. Those two teams face off this weekend for control of the SEC East.
“Regardless of what ESPN says or the rankings and all that stuff,” Pierschbacher said, “we know what we have to accomplish and all the work that we have left to be able to be where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Reach Terrin Waack at email@example.com or at 205-722-0229.