Georgia remains solidly entrenched as CFP’s No. 1

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

ATHENS – Boo Coorigan was not asked a single question Tuesday about Georgia in the teleconference call with reporters that follows the weekly unveiling of the College Football Playoff rankings. That’s a good thing for the Bulldogs, who remained the solid No. 1 choice of the selection committee for the third straight week.

Most of the intrigue following the Week 13 release centered around the curiosities sitting just outside the unchanged Top 4. That’d be where two-loss LSU (9-2, 6-1 SEC) moved up one spot to No. 5 after defeating an overmatched UAB at home. Meanwhile, USC (10-1) also moved up but remained a spot behind the Tigers after a dramatic road win over then-16th ranked UCLA. That clinched a Pac-12 Championship game berth for the Trojans.

Four of the nine questions Coorigan fielded were related to LSU and USC’s positions. His answers might be of some interest to Georgia followers as the Bulldogs are set to play LSU in the SEC Championship game on Dec. 3 in Atlanta.

But first, Georgia (11-0, 8-0) wraps up the regular season against Georgia Tech (5-6, 4-4 ACC) on Saturday (noon, ESPN). LSU finishes the season on the road against Texas A&M (4-7, 1-6) later Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN).

“Well, we talked a lot about it; that is what I would say before anything else,” Coorigan, the committee chairman, said of the LSU vs. USC debate. “And made sure that it wasn’t a single conversation. It came up over and over again and there are reasons for both teams. But the committee, at the end of the day, saw (LSU’s) wins over Alabama and Mississippi as stronger than the wins over UCLA and Oregon State.”

The committee apparently also has some questions about the Trojans’ defense, per Coorigan. They rank 96th in FBS in yards allowed (406.1 pg) and 68th in points allowed (26.45). Comparatively, LSU is 33rd (338.5) and 24th (20.00) in those categories.

“Looking at it in its entirety, we believe that LSU deserved to be ranked 5 and SC 6,” Coorigan said.

That sets up LSU to be the first two-loss team in history to earn a playoff berth if it can beat the Bulldogs in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Currently, Georgia has been posted as an early 15-point favorite by many Las Vegas sports books.

Another decision that was questioned Tuesday was 9-2 Alabama being elevated to No. 7 (after beating Austin Peay at home), while No. 8 Clemson (10-1) remained behind the Crimson Tide despite a better record and after defeating conference opponent Miami handily at home.

“You know, we’re really looking at the whole body of work,” Coorigan said. “We’re (through) Week 12. People have played different people throughout the season, some stronger than others. Our goal really is to look at the whole resume at this point and make sure that we’re evaluating the entire resume instead of one single data point that you can get sucked into at times. We’re making sure that we’re making the bigger, broader decision.”

After the latest adjustments, five SEC teams remain in the CFP Top 25 – No. 1 Georgia, No. 6 LSU, No. 7 Alabama, No. 10 Tennessee and No. 20 Ole Miss. The league had a high of six teams represented in Week 11. Kentucky has since fallen out.

And, yes, there are scenarios that could put Alabama back into the playoff -- and possibly in Georgia’s path. It would involve the Bulldogs knocking off LSU, USC losing to No. 15 Notre Dame this week or to No. 9 Oregon or somebody else in the Pac-12 championship game, and/or No. 4 TCU losing in the Big 12 championship game.

However, Clemson might have something to say about that if it remains a one-loss ACC champion.

About all that, Georgia has nary concern. The Bulldogs are so solidly entrenched at the top -- even after a shaky performance against Kentucky this past weekend -- they could possibly lose in the SEC title game and still remain in the top four. That was exactly the scenario Georgia encountered last December when it lost to Alabama in the SEC championship game last December. The Bulldogs fell from 1 to 3 for the four-team playoff and went on to win the national championship.

For now, though, nobody is saying anything about the Bulldogs. Silence, in their case, is golden.

CFP rankings -- Week 13

  1. Georgia (11-0)
  2. Ohio State (11-0)
  3. Michigan (11-0)
  4. TCU (11-0)
  5. LSU (9-2)
  6. USC (10-1)
  7. Alabama (9-2)
  8. Clemson (10-1)
  9. Oregon (9-2)
  10. Tennessee (9-2)
  11. Penn State (9-2)
  12. Kansas St. (8-3)
  13. Washington (9-2)
  14. Utah (8-3)
  15. Notre Dame (8-3)
  16. Florida St. (8-3)
  17. UNC (9-2)
  18. UCLA (8-3)
  19. Tulane (9-2)
  20. Ole Miss (8-3)
  21. Oregon St. (8-3)
  22. UCF (8-3)
  23. Texas (7-4)
  24. Cincinnati (9-2)
  25. Louisville (7-4)