Given the past few years, faith in the CFP Committee is wildly low, and it seems like they're expected to throw in some wild controversies with almost every ranking. Even with that in mind, these initial rankings are far more bizarre than any before. I wrote up some of the most unprecedented decisions made in these rankings, mostly just researched using this Wikipedia page for each year. Unless otherwise stated, each of these points refers only to the first CFP rankings in each year, usually from Week 9 of the given season. Here we go:
UTSA is just the second-ever undefeated team to be unranked at any point in the CFP rankings, initial or otherwise (with the exception of the bizarre 2020 covid year). The first was 2014 Marshall, who failed to break into the CFP rankings until Week 13 when they reached 11-0.
Alabama is the only non-undefeated team to ever be ranked in the Top 2 in the initial rankings. Previously, the earliest a non-undefeated team had been ranked in the Top 2 was 2015 Alabama in Week 10 after a win over #2 LSU. Of the 83 total Top 2 teams in all CFP rankings, only 24 had a loss.
Cincinnati at #6 is the lowest ranking for an undefeated team with a win over a Top 10 team
Cincinnati is only the second team ever to be ranked in the Top 2 in the AP poll and not ranked in the Top 4 in the CFP (2015 Baylor). Cincinnati is also tied with 2015 Baylor for the second largest drop-off for a Top 4 AP team to the CFP rankings (both #2 to #6). 2017 AP #4 Wisconsin was ranked #9 in the first CFP poll. Just got reminded that OU this year is also tied with 2015 Baylor and Cincinnati, dropping from #4 to #8
Alabama and Oregon are the 5th and 6th one-loss team to be ranked in the Top 4 ahead of undefeated Power 5 teams: The others were 2015 Alabama over 5 different teams, 2016 Texas A&M one spot ahead of 8-0 Washington, and 2017 Clemson and Notre Dame over 8-0 Wisconsin. This is only the second time there have been one-loss teams ranked ahead of multiple undefeated Power 5 teams (#8 Oklahoma and #9 Wake Forest are behind both, while #3 Michigan State is ranked behind Alabama)
Alabama is just the 4th non-undefeated team ranked in the Top 4 without a win over a current top 10 team (2015 Alabama, 2017 Notre Dame and Clemson)
Oregon is only the second top 4 team to have a loss to an unranked team (2017 Clemson), while Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M is the 5th worst loss by a Top 4 team. 2014 Ole Miss lost to #19 LSU, 2015 Alabama lost to #18 Ole Miss, and the aforementioned Oregon and Clemson lost to unranked Stanford and Syracuse, respectively
Only 3 4 5 undefeated Power 5 teams have been ranked lower than #9 Wake Forest in the initial rankings: 2015 #14 Oklahoma State, 2019 #12 Baylor, and 2020 #15 Oregon (only 3-0 due to Covid). Also 2019 #17 Minnesota, who I originally left out. ALSO also I left out 2020 unranked Washington, who was 2-0
Out of 200 teams, #17 Mississippi State and #21 Wisconsin are the 6th and 7th to be in the initial rankings with more than 2 losses. Of those teams, Mississippi State is the highest ranked (just above 2018 #18 Mississippi State) and is only the second to have lost to more than 1 unranked team (2019 #23 Oklahoma State) while Wisconsin is only the second of these teams to not have a win over a ranked team (2016 #22 Florida State) Ignore that, Wisconsin just beat #22 Iowa
#23 Fresno State is the first ever Group of 5 team to be ranked with more than one loss in the initial rankings
A couple of notes:
For reference, there have been 10 total one-loss Top 4 teams in the initial CFP rankings, out of 28 total Top 4 teams
I ignored 2020 Clemson for the fifth point, as every undefeated team ranked behind them had played at least 3 fewer games due to covid. Also, this doesn't count 2018 LSU who was ranked ahead of undefeated Notre Dame
There is definitely something to be said about SMU, Houston, and Coastal Carolina being unranked, but I was unable to find a specific stat to use. There are just too many 1 loss teams in the last 7 years to sift through
I have a hunch that #20 Minnesota's loss to Bowling Green is the worst loss by team quality (BGSU is currently 116/130 in SP+) by any ranked team in the CFP era, but I don't have the time or know-how to prove it
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