If Mario Cristobal planned to watch the initial College Football Playoff rankings in private on Tuesday night, he ditched that idea after ESPN’s college basketball broadcast of Duke and Kansas ran long and delayed the football announcement on the network.
Cristobal and his family took a front-row seat at Matthew Knight Arena midway through the first half of Oregon’s basketball game against Fresno State and the UO football coach remained there when the Ducks were unveiled as the No. 7 seed in the rankings. The CFP committee is led by UO athletic director Rob Mullens, who is not allowed to be part of the discussion regarding the Ducks.
“When Oregon is in the pool, I am out of the room and was recused,” Mullens said in a conference call. “When I came back in after the vote relative to 7, 8, and 9, what was relayed to me is that Oregon has won eight in a row with quality road wins at Washington and USC. The only loss was on a neutral field on the last play of the game against a team ranked No. 11.”
Ohio State is ranked No. 1 followed by LSU, Alabama and Penn State in the top four. Clemson is fifth and Georgia was the only one-loss team ahead of the Ducks in the rankings that will culminate with the selection of the four playoff teams on Dec. 8.
“Georgia beat two top-15 teams, No. 10 Florida and No. 15 Notre Dame,” Mullens said. “They are the only FBS team to not give up a rushing touchdown, so that is a strong statement. The separator for them at this point was the two top-15 wins.”
Oregon, which was in the rankings for the first time since the end of the 2015 season, was followed by Utah at No. 8 as both Pac-12 teams are 8-1. The Ducks and Utes are the only two teams from the conference in the Top 25 and could face off in the Pac-12 championship game on Friday, Dec. 6.
“Specifically as it relates to Oregon and Utah, Utah’s only loss was at USC, a game Oregon won,” Mullens said.
Oklahoma was behind Oregon at No. 9 followed by Florida at No. 10. Auburn, which beat Oregon 27-21, is ranked No. 11.
The Pac-12 champion almost certainly needs to be 12-1 to have a shot at making the CFP. While Oregon only has three teams to jump in order to make the College Football Playoff, that will be a difficult task for a couple reasons.
The Ducks don’t have any Top 25 teams on their schedule for the rest of the regular season while some of the teams ahead of them have games they could lose and possibly not drop below Oregon in the rankings. Alabama and LSU face off Saturday while Ohio State and Penn State play on Nov. 23.