Wake Forest may be undefeated, but the Demon Deacons still have a lot of work to do to make the College Football Playoff. Coach Dave Clawson’s unbeaten team ranked ninth in the first College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday, behind four teams who already have a loss this season.
Georgia, Alabama, Michigan State and Oregon were the top four teams, with Ohio State and Cincinnati up next. The Crimson Tide, Ducks and Buckeyes all have one loss this season.
At sixth, the unbeaten Bearcats have the best ranking ever in the selection committee’s Top 25 for a team from outside the Power Five conferences but also sit behind three teams that have already been beaten.
Michigan and Oklahoma are seventh and eighth, respectively, and Notre Dame rounded out the top 10. NC State, at 6-2, is ranked 19th.
Only once in the seven-year history of the CFP have the four teams in the committee’s initial ranking made the final four. That was last season.
This season, Georgia was an obvious No. 1 and committee chairman Gary Barta, who is also Iowa’s athletic director, told ESPN that Alabama was a comfortable No. 2 for the 13-member panel.
He said Nos. 3-9 were hard to discern.
Oregon got the nod over Ohio State in the fourth spot by virtue of beating the Buckeyes on the road in the second week of the season.
Cincinnati set the previous high ranking from a team from the so-called Group of Five conferences last season at No. 7, but the Bearcats never moved up. In fact, they were passed while completing an unbeaten regular season and were eighth in the final rankings that set the playoff field.
Barta said the committee was impressed with Cincinnati’s victory at Notre Dame (7-1), but not so much by the rest of their schedule and closer-than-expected wins against Navy and Tulane recently.
“When you look at their schedule after that, who else did they beat? That was the question,” Barta told ESPN.
The final rankings of this season will come Dec. 5, the day after conference championships are played.
The first four in that Top 25 will meet in the CFP national semifinals, scheduled for Dec. 31 at the Orange Bowl in South Florida and Cotton Bowl in North Texas.
The College Football Playoff national championship game will be held Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.