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The Tennessee Volunteers are the No. 1 football team in the nation, according to the first College Football Playoff poll released Tuesday night.
Tennessee (8-0) will put that ranking to the test immediately on Saturday when it plays at No. 3 Georgia (8-0) in a 3:30 p.m. game on CBS.
Ohio State (8-0) was voted No. 2 and Clemson (8-0) No. 4 by the 13-member College Football Playoff selection committee that heavily weighs strength of schedule.
“There’s a long ways to go,” Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said on ESPN after the rankings were released. “We obviously got a huge step to take this weekend at Georgia.”
The rest of the top 10 had No. 5 Michigan (8-0), No. 6 Alabama (7-1), No. 7 TCU (8-0), No. 8 Oregon (7-1), No. 9 USC (7-1) and No. 10 LSU (6-2).
The committee will release its rankings weekly for the rest of the season and then a final poll with the top four teams playing in the national semifinals that will decide who plays in the national championship game.
Tennesee Knew It Had A Shot At No. 1
“We talked about it early in the week,” Heupel said of the rankings. “We figured we’d be somewhere near the top.”
Tennessee moved from No. 3 to a tie with Ohio State at No. 2 in the Associated Press top 25 poll on Sunday.
“We’ve tried to enjoy the journey,” Heupel said.
Tennessee’s thrilling 52-49 win at home as the No. 6 team over then-No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 15 and its dominant, 40-13 at then-No. 25 LSU on Oct. 8 pushed the Volunteers to the top. Alabama and LSU each have not lost since, and the Tigers ripped then No. 7 Ole Miss, 45-20 on Oct. 22.
“The two wins over Alabama and at LSU really sealed the deal for Tennessee,” said CFP committee chairman Boo Corrigan, who is the athletic director at North Carolina State.
The rest of the rankings had No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 12 UCLA, No. 13 Kansas State, No. 14 Utah, No. 15 Penn State, No. 16 Illinois, No. 17 North Carolina, No. 18 Oklahoma State, No. 19 Tulane, No. 20 Syracuse, No. 21 Wake Forest, No. 22 North Carolina State, No. 23 Oregon State, No. 24 Texas and No. 25 Central Florida.