Who’s No. 1? Who’s No. 4? Answering the CFP’s toughest questions

  • College football reporter
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2007
  • Graduate of Indiana University

When the College Football Playoff selection committee meets Monday for the first time this season it will have several things to debate, starting at No. 1. Georgia, Tennessee and Ohio State each have a strong case.

It doesn’t stop there, though.

The selection committee also must determine who’s No. 4, where Michigan, Clemson and one-loss Alabama are in the mix. Then there’s the matter of setting the board for other playoff hopefuls.

The first of six rankings will be announced Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), and while the list can and will change as the season continues to unfold, the committee’s initial Top 25 has relevance. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, 18 of 32 teams that eventually made the CFP were ranked in the initial top four. Seven of those teams (2015 Alabama, 2016 Clemson, 2017 Alabama, 2018 Clemson, 2019 LSU, 2020 Alabama and 2021 Georgia) went on to win the national title.

The selection committee now has nine weeks of résumés and game film to evaluate. They have every game and statistic at their fingertips, thanks to CFP-issued iPads and binders. When they meet this week at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, here’s what they will consider as they vote through electronic secret ballots for the first time:

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