Bulldogs’ Kirby Smart on first CFP rankings: ‘The end is what matters’

Here's a look at five key games to watch this weekend as teams continue to battle for spots in the College Football Playoff.

Speaking about 30 minutes before the first College Football Playoff rankings of 2018 were set to be released, Georgia coach Kirby Smart expressed no interest in the report and even said he was unaware of ESPN’s Tuesday evening telecast.

“I didn’t even know it was tonight,” he said. “I didn’t realize that was going on. I should have talked to our team about that, but I didn’t bring it up to them. Who knows what they’ll be thinking tonight?

“I’m not curious at all. We all know the end is what matters, and if you get caught in that, you’ll fall pretty quick, if you get caught up in it. The bottom line is that every team that’s in there, if they win they’re in because a lot of them are going to play each other.”

Not surprisingly, Georgia -- which last year was the No. 1 team for two weeks before losing to Auburn -- was ranked sixth in the season’s inaugural ratings, behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 5 Michigan. The Bulldogs also are No. 6 in this week’s Associated Press poll.

Kentucky, which the Bulldogs face at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, was ranked No. 9. Rounding out the top 10 were No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 8 Washington State at No. 8, Kentucky and No. 10 Ohio State.

When asked what he would have told the team had he remembered to address it, Smart said, “Be wary of postings and hype and all the stuff that’s involved with it. It’s really just a distraction. The older ones heard it last year, and I know all them will see it and pay attention to it. … But it doesn’t matter.

“It has no effect at all. What matters is how you play. If you want to impress those guys, go play well.”

After confirming Georgia’s spot in the playoff scenario, linebacker Monty Rice declined to say much, and linebacker Tae Crowder selected his words carefully, maintaining the party line.

“We just try to stay away from it,” Crowder said. “I don’t really pay attention to the rankings or whatever. We don’t try to get into all that. … We keep up with it but we try not to watch it, or just stay away from it.”