Virginia made its 2019 debut in the College Football Playoff rankings, coming in at No. 23 in Tuesday night’s release. This is the second time the Cavaliers have been in the CFP rankings after they were No. 25 in the initial poll of 2018 (October 30).
The penultimate 2019 College Football Playoff rankings… pic.twitter.com/hFaQ768b45— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) December 4, 2019
While polls generally “don’t matter” the CFP rankings definitely do. For one, this poll has a direct impact on the Orange Bowl selection. The ACC champion gets an automatic berth to the Orange Bowl, as long as they aren’t in the College Football Playoffs. If the Hoos manage to knock off Clemson, they’ll go to the Orange Bowl. If they lose, then a few things will be taken into consideration.
If Virginia stays ranked in next week’s poll after the ACC Championship game (the final of the season), then they’ll automatically go to the Orange Bowl as the only other ranked ACC team in the final CFP rankings. If they fall out of the rankings, then the Orange Bowl will get to pick. Most likely, that will still be Virginia by virtue of winning the Coastal, but nothing is guaranteed.
These rankings are also interesting when considering potential opponents for the Cavaliers in the Orange Bowl. The highest ranked SEC or Big Ten team that’s not involved in the CFP/Sugar/Rose Bowl will get a bid to the Orange Bowl, unless Notre Dame is ranked higher.
If today’s rankings were final, Wisconsin at No. 8 would go to the Rose Bowl (No. 1 Ohio State would go to CFP), Florida at No. 9 would go to the Sugar Bowl (No. 2 LSU and No. 4 Georgia would go to CFP), and No. 10 Penn State would face Virginia in the Orange Bowl.
No. 2 LSU and No. 4 Georgia still have to play for the SEC title, and it’s unknown at this point if either team’s loss would knock them out of the CFP. If it would, then the loser would get sent to the Sugar Bowl, leaving Florida available for Orange (if ranked higher than the next available Big Ten team). Florida is the only one in this equation not playing anyone this weekend.
Wisconsin is playing No. 1 Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, meaning they could also fall below Penn State with a loss, sending Penn State to the Rose Bowl and leaving Wisconsin available for Orange (if ranked higher than the next available SEC team).
There are still A LOT of moving pieces, but the picture is starting to become a little clearer.
Here is the full Top 25: