Final 2021 CFP rankings takeaways: Did Alabama deserve No. 1 ranking over Michigan?

The final CFP rankings are in and the four teams aren’t much of a surprise but the order of the four teams is up for debate. What did the playoff committee get right and get wrong?

The CFP rankings are in and the College Football Playoff field is set.

With Georgia losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, Michigan beating Iowa for the Big Ten championship, Cincinnati winning the American Athletic Conference and Oklahoma State losing the Big 12 Championship Game, there wasn’t much suspense about which four teams would get in.

However, there was some suspense about who would move up to the No. 1 spot with Georgia falling. Would it be Alabama moving up from No. 3 by virtue of their win over Georgia in such dominating fashion?

Or would it be Michigan moving up from No. 2 to the top spot after a convincing win over Ohio State last week and over Iowa on Saturday night?

There was a debate at the bottom half of the top four with Georgia and how far they should fall. They were the consensus No. 1 team for much of the season but were blown out in their conference championship game and are the only team in the playoff not to win their conference.

Then there is Cincinnati, the only undefeated team in the FBS, who left no doubt about their spot in the playoff as the first Group of Five team to make the four-team field.

2021 Top 35 CFP rankings

1. Alabama
2. Michigan
3. Georgia
4. Cincinnati
5. Notre Dame
6. Ohio State
7. Baylor
8. Ole Miss
9. Oklahoma State
10. Michigan State
11. Utah
12. Pittsburgh
13. BYU
14. Oregon
15. Iowa
16. Oklahoma
17. Wake Forest
18. NC State
19. Clemson
20. Houston
21. Arkansas
22. Kentucky
23. Louisiana
24. San Diego State
25. Texas A&M

CFP rankings: Did the playoff committee get it right?

In some years there is a little bit of a debate about the No. 4/No. 5 spots and who is most deserving of the final spot. Last year, there was some controversy among Texas A&M fans who believed they belonged in the playoff over Notre Dame who was coming off a loss in the ACC Championship Game vs. Clemson. But most years, there is little debate about the four teams. The playoff has done a good job getting the four best teams in the playoff. That was again true this year. There is no debate about the four best teams being the four teams chosen by the playoff committee. Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and Cincinnati are the four best teams. They got this right.

Alabama had the No. 1 strength of record and No. 4 strength of schedule compared to No. 2 and No. 21 for Michigan. Additionally, Alabama was 9-1 vs. FBI top-40 teams compared to 5-1 for Michigan. Alabama is deserving of the No. 1 ranking but it’s very close and Michigan is a dangerous team for Georgia in their semifinal game.

Alabama vs. Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl and Michigan vs. Georgia in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31 is must-see TV.

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