The College Football Playoff Committee ranked the Georgia Bulldogs No. 1 in its first rankings of the season, which were announced on Tuesday.
The committee ranked UGA No. 1, Alabama No. 2, Notre Dame No. 3 and Clemson No. 4.
It's the first time the Bulldogs have been ranked in the committee's top four which indicates they are on track for the College Football Playoff.
The committee will release its rankings every week to give a snapshot of who they believe to be the top teams in the country. When it releases its final rankings on Dec.3, the top four teams are placed in the playoff, which is a semifinal for the national championship.
While it's helpful to see where the committee views teams, head coach Kirby Smart doesn't care about his team's perception and hopes his athletes don't, either.
"It’s just a matter of how we finish," Smart said. "They talked about rat poison a lot and things like that. But we don’t really have to address if you confront it from the beginning. So the rankings that have been coming out up until this point, the AP ones, are the same things. Just a distraction. It’s just a matter of who can manage it best and which teams are mature enough to handle it because it has zero outcome on performance on Saturday. It’s only a distractive measure that we have to contend with."
The playoff committee works differently than other polls, such as the Amway Coaches Poll or AP Poll. There are 13 members from a variety of background, some affiliated with teams.
They don't rank teams based purely on records, but rather how they look (the eye test), stats, strength of schedule, head-to-head outcomes, and eventually conference championships. They watch film on all the teams, then come together for deliberation.
Many give Georgia credit for defeating Notre Dame on the road earlier in the season. Georgia has played two ranked opponents as opposed to Alabama who has played just one, Florida State. But Alabama leads Georgia in most statical categories with the exception of pass defense. Georgia allows an average of 157 passing yards per game as opposed to 169.6 from Alabama.
CFP Director Kirby Hocutt confirmed to ESPN Georgia's win over two ranked opponents put them ahead of Alabama.
After deliberation, they rank the top 25 teams. They don't consult other polls, so previous conceptions of who is No. 1 and so on don't matter.