College Football Playoff chair details why Vols are ranked No. 1

No. 3 Tennessee (8-0, 4-0 SEC) will play at No. 1 Georgia (8-0, 5-0 SEC) Saturday in Week 10.

Kickoff between the Vols and Bulldogs is slated for 3:30 p.m. EDT. CBS will televise the SEC East matchup from Sanford Stadium.

Following the announcement of the first College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday, Boo Corrigan, College Football Playoff selection committee chair, met with media.

Corrigan’s discussion of why Tennessee is ranked No. 1 is listed below from a transcript provided by the College Football Playoff.

Opening statement “It is great to be back together. As the chairman, I am honored to serve in this role, and it’s an honor to spend the last two days with 12 college football experts. 

It’s been great. I want to note that the committee does have four new members this year.

We also have nine returning members who have gone through this before.

The new members did join us for the mock Selection Committee exercise, and all members were active participants in the debate over the last two days.

I wish you all could have been in the room. The debate over the top 25 rankings were extensive and very animated, particularly at the top.

A case was made for Ohio State to be No. 1, for Georgia and for Tennessee, and there were good arguments for each one of the schools.

At the end of the debate, the committee voted Tennessee No. 1 because of their impressive road win at LSU and their victory over Alabama, and Alabama is a team that the committee respects highly.

Ohio State has a powerful offense and a very solid defense, impressive win last week over Penn State.

Georgia has been dominant this season, which has been plain to see, in particular the win over Oregon at the start of the season. But Tennessee’s two wins against those two strong opponents really made a difference. As a reminder, the committee begins with no presumptions.

Last year’s record doesn’t matter. The conference that teams play in does not matter. We don’t look at the polls.

Our protocol is we consider a team’s record, their strength of schedule, their head-to-head match-ups and their results of common opponents.

The committee members make their rankings based on subjective expert college football judgment.

They watch games. They have a wealth of data and statistics available, and the committee debates it all. Thank you for listening, and I’m happy to take your questions.”

You mentioned Ohio State's explosive offense and I think you said their defense was solid. I'd like to get more detail on what the committee thinks about Ohio State's defense, and how close was the discussion between Ohio State and Tennessee for No. 1?

“Again, I’ll go back to there’s a lot of really good football teams. There’s a lot of really robust conversation going on.

Ohio State has given up 17 points a game and was scoring 44 points in their last seven games. Again, it’s a well-balanced team, and as we look at it, it was something that as a group in the collective 13, really felt good about Ohio State, but again, felt those two big wins by Tennessee is what ultimately carried the day.”

I'm wondering what the committee's consideration is to close losses on the road to other top-10 teams. The obvious example is Alabama to Tennessee, but what kind of consideration are so-called good losses?

“Well, I don’t know that we talked specifically about good losses. Obviously we’re focused primarily on wins as we go through this.

But to be able to play the game as late as they did into the game and a last-second field goal against — from a Tennessee standpoint, against Alabama, to win it that way, again, it’s not a win in that sense, but again, it is a very competitive game, a well-played, a high-level game that’s played.”

I wanted to ask about common opponents. We see that Georgia and Tennessee have both played Florida, Tennessee playing Florida at home and Georgia recently winning more impressively at a neutral site over Florida. How do you factor in the transitive property of them, I guess, having a common opponent?

“Yeah, it is part of our discussion. As we go through it every week, we make sure that we’re guided by those principles overall.

But again, as we looked at it, we saw the wins by Tennessee over Alabama and over LSU, even with Georgia’s dominant win over Oregon, as being that much more to put them over the top.”

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