By Mary Cunningham

Penn State has paid dearly for its first loss last Saturday, 39-38 in a gut-wrencher at Ohio State:

The Nits are on the outside looking in — rated 7th as the top 4 will play for the national championship — as the first rankings from the College Football Playoff committee were released last night.

At the top are two unbeaten SEC teams in Georgia and Alabama. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide are in opposite order in major polls. However, committee chairman Kirby Hocutt noted Georgia’s wins against No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 16 Mississippi State as the reason for putting Kirby Smart’s team ahead of the Alabama, which has no wins among teams in the Top 25 in the rankings.

Notre Dame’s one-point loss to the Bulldogs didn’t stop the Irish from taking the third spot. The Irish have looked dominant in wins against Michigan State, Southern California and North Carolina State, all of which are in the rankings.

Clemson is No. 4. The Tigers had three big wins in September against Auburn, Louisville and Virginia Tech before a surprise loss to Syracuse.

The top four teams in final rankings on Dec. 3 will play in the semifinals. Those two games will be played in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.

The championship game will be played on Jan. 8 in Atlanta at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

College Football Playoff committee Top 25

1. Georgia (8-0)
2. Alabama (8-0)
3. Notre Dame (7-1)
4. Clemson (7-1)
5. Oklahoma (7-1)
6. Ohio State (7-1)
7. PENN STATE (7-1)
8. TCU (7-1)
9. Wisconsin (8-0)
10. Miami (Fla.) (7-0)
11. Oklahoma State (7-1)
12. Washington (7-1)
13. Virginia Tech (7-1)
14. Auburn (6-2)
15. Iowa State (6-2)
16. Mississippi State (6-2)
17. Southern California (7-2)
18. Central Florida (7-0)
19. LSU (6-2)
20. North Carolina State (6-2)
21. Stanford (6-2)
22. Arizona (6-2)
23. Memphis (7-1)
24. Michigan State (6-2)
25. Washington State (7-2)

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