Meet your College Football Playoff if the postseason started today:
No. 1 Clemson would play No. 4 Alabama in the Orange Bowl and No. 2 Louisiana State would face No. 3 Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl.
Tuesday's first playoff ranking release was only the first taste of sugar. The selection committee had to start somewhere, and a top four of Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and Alabama shouldn't surprise anyone.
The big surprise was Notre Dame at No. 5. The Fighting Irish rank four spots higher than they do in this week's USA Today coaches' poll.
Alabama and LSU play Saturday in Tuscaloosa. Baylor did not make the top four despite being No. 2 in both the coaches and Associated Press media polls. The Bears debut at No. 6, paying the price for a weak schedule.
The committee's top 10 is rounded out by Michigan State at No. 7, followed by TCU, Iowa and Florida.
Baylor and TCU, both of the Big 12 Conference, got left out of last season's playoffs and are facing that possibility again. However, the first ranking is only a snapshot, and both schools have yet to play their toughest games.
"We rank to this point in time," Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, chairman of the selection committee, said on ESPN just after the announcement.
Stanford is the first Pac-12 team in the mix, at No. 11, followed by Utah at No. 12. UCLA is No. 23, sandwiched between Temple and Toledo.
The committee had a lot to hash out.
Last year's first ranking had only two undefeated teams to consider, Mississippi State and Florida State. This year there are 11, many with flaws and suspect schedules.
Think of Ohio State (8-0) as this year's Florida State, an unbeaten defending national champion with quarterback issues that can't truly be trusted.
The committee suspected Florida State wasn't for real but couldn't justify dumping a crowned champion riding the nation's longest winning streak. It might be harboring similar thoughts for Ohio State.
Baylor (7-0) is averaging 61 points a game but has one of the weakest schedules in major college football. The Bears are also, at midseason, turning to a first-year freshman quarterback to lead them through November.
LSU (7-0) appears formidable but has had one game canceled and another moved to the Tigers' home stadium because of bad weather.
Iowa (8-0) is undefeated but may be getting dinged because it plays in the weak Big Ten West Division, even though the Hawkeyes have wins at Wisconsin and Northwestern.
TCU (8-0) has won 16 straight games and boasts the nation's best quarterback in Trevone Boykin, but lacks a signature win.
Clemson (8-0) looks like the real deal but plays in a conference, the Atlantic Coast, that has only one other team in the AP top 20.
ASU coach Graham defends signal theft
A day after Washington State coach Mike Leach said the Pac-12 should investigate Arizona State for stealing opponents' offensive signals, Sun Devils coach Todd Graham said there was nothing wrong with what his team was doing — and most of the conference's coaches agreed with him.
"Do we steal signals? Yeah, we do," Graham said Tuesday on the Pac-12 coaches' conference call. "Do people steal our signals? Yeah, they do. Do you see our signs and all the things we do? It's our responsibility to make sure our signals are safe. There's nothing illegal about [stealing signs]."
NCAA rules prohibit teams from using video or audio to record another team's signals, but there is nothing that specifically says teams can't try to figure out the other team's signs.
Northern Illinois 32, No.20 Toledo 27: Freshman quarterback Ryan Graham led Northern Illinois on two fourth-quarter scoring drives, and the Huskies (6-3, 4-1 Mid-American) rallied to beat the Rockets (7-1, 4-1) in Toledo.
Title game hosts to be named today
Minneapolis will learn Wednesday whether it will be the host city for the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship game.
The College Football Playoff will announce where it's taking its title game for 2018, 2019 and 2020; heavily booked Minneapolis — Super Bowl, 2018; Final Four, 2019 — only submitted a bid for 2020. The game would take place in U.S. Bank Stadium, which is about 10 months from completion. Competing against Minneapolis for 2020: Charlotte, N.C.; Houston; the Bay Area; New Orleans and San Antonio.