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How Former Initial No. 1s Have Fared in the College Football Playoffs

College Football Playoffs
Tennessee lands as the initial No. 1 seed in the 2022 College Football Playoffs rankings. Photo via @Vol_Football on Twitter.

It’s official. As of ESPN’s College Football Playoff Ranking show on Tuesday night, Josh Heupel and the Tennessee Volunteers are officially set in the No. 1 spot in the first initial playoff rankings from the committee.

It’s been an incredible turnaround in Knoxville considering where Tennessee was during the 2020 season, just less than two years ago.

While the CFB Playoff rankings will update every Tuesday night, the committee’s first reveal shows the value they have in both the Tennessee team and the Vols’ schedule that has been played up to this point. However, despite possessing the initial No. 1 ranking, Tennessee will have to prove their spot at the top with an away game at Georgia coming up this weekend.

The Bulldogs come in at No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings but still have the No. 1 AP Poll spot in the country.

According to ESPN, “19 of the 32 teams (59%) that were in the top four in the initial rankings ended up in the playoff.”

With the College Football Playoffs being in its ninth season, there have been eight previous initial No. 1 overall seeds before. Only four of those years have seen the initial No. 1 remain as the final No. 1 seed in the rankings before the playoffs actually begin. Alabama has done it three times, with Clemson rounding out the list.

More from RTI: Tennessee Lands in First College Football Playoffs Rankings on Tuesday

Here’s a look at how the previous eight initial No. 1 seeds have fared in the final College Football Playoff rankings of each year.

Note: This is not the order that teams finished in, but the final playoff rankings before the playoffs actually began.

2014

  • Initial No. 1 Ranking: Mississippi State
  • Finished 7th in final rankings

2015

  • Initial No. 1 Ranking: Clemson
  • Finished 1st in final rankings

2016

  • Initial No. 1 Ranking: Alabama
  • Finished 1st in final rankings

2017

  • Initial No. 1 Ranking: Georgia
  • Finished 3rd in final rankings

2018

  • Initial No. 1 Ranking: Alabama
  • Finished 1st in final rankings

2019

  • Initial No. 1 Ranking: Ohio State
  • Finished 2nd in final rankings

2020

  • Initial No. 1 Ranking: Alabama
  • Finished 1st in final rankings

2021

  • Initial No. 1 Ranking: Georgia
  • Finished 3rd in final rankings

2022

  • Initial No. 1 Ranking: Tennessee
  • Finished TBD in final rankings

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