Congratulations, LSU. You’re the No. 3 team in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the 2018 season. Now, with that Crimson Tide behemoth looming, go out over the next five weeks and buck history.
As noted, LSU is the No. 3 team in the eyes of the playoff committee, sandwiched between No. 2 Clemson and No. 4 Notre Dame — with everybody looking up at No. 1 Alabama. In the first four years of the CFP, not a single team that opened at No. 3 in the initial playoff rankings has gone on to qualify as one of the four semifinalists; in fact, none finished higher than sixth and two finished well outside of the Top Ten of the final regular season rankings.
- 2017: Notre Dame (finished regular season 14th)
- 2016: Michigan (6th)
- 2015: Ohio State (7th)
- 2014: Auburn (19th)
Interestingly, LSU’s opponent in Week 10. top-ranked Alabama, has its own history to buck as well as no team that opened as the CFP No. 1 has gone on to win the national championship.
- 2017: Georgia (Alabama won the CFP)
- 2016: Alabama (Clemson)
- 2015: Clemson (Alabama)
- 2014: Mississippi State (Ohio State)
There are also history lessons to learn from the initial CFP rankings as a whole.
Over the first four years of the new system to determine a national champion, exactly eight of the 16 semifinalists were ranked outside of the top four in the initial CFP rankings. That number has steadily decreased over that timeframe, however, going from three in 2014 to two in both 2015 and 2016 to just one last season.