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College Football Playoff debuts Arizona at No. 12

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The first ever College Football Playoff ranks the 6-1 Arizona football team as the No. 12 team in the land.

ESPN

The newest and most important college football ranking system debuted Tuesday with the Arizona Wildcats coming in at No. 12 in the nation, according to the College Football Playoff committee. The committee ranks Rich Rodriguez's team as the second-best Pac-12 squad, behind No. 5 Oregon and ahead of No. 14 Arizona State.

The top of the initial rankings surely will rub those outside the SEC the wrong way. Mississippi State is currently the No. 1 team in the land, and the Bulldogs are followed by Florida State. Filling in the next two spots are SEC schools Auburn and Ole Miss. Oregon and No. 6 Alabama are the first two teams out of the four-team playoff that will debut this season.

Obviously, all this means so little considering there's so much yet to play out.

"We've always had a playoff in Division I football," said Rich Rodriguez during the Pac-12 football coaches teleconference call on Tuesday. "It started in the first regular season game. Now, it's just extended by two teams but it really doesn't change the dynamic. There's probably going to be more controversy, not right now ... in three or four weeks, it will be. Sometimes discussing it and having controversy is exciting for the game."

ESPN's studio crew covering the release of the inaugural ranking system correctly believe Oregon is the better on-paper team than Arizona, but if both teams avoid losing come the end of next month, it's a wonder if the Wildcats should leap over the Ducks. Again, this is where the nine-game conference schedule plus the conference championship potentially hurts the Pac-12.

Weeks back, David Shaw worried about how a one- or two-loss Pac-12 school will be judged compared to the shorter intraconference schedules and/or the conferences that lack a championship game.

"Imagine a two-loss Pac-12 champion that's played a hellacious schedule," Shaw said at the beginning of this month. "Do they get bumped for a one-loss or an undefeated team that did not play the same type of schedule? That, to me, is going to determine where this playoff goes -- and scheduling in the future. If that happens, I can guarantee there are going to be 12 coaches going to the commissioner."

College Football Playoff rankings

Rank Team Record
1 Mississippi State 7-0
2 Florida State 7-0
3 Auburn 6-1
4 Mississippi 7-1
5 Oregon 7-1
6 Alabama 7-1
7 TCU 6-1
8 Michigan State 7-1
9 Kansas State 6-1
10 Notre Dame 6-1
11 Georgia 6-1
12 Arizona 6-1
13 Baylor 6-1
14 Arizona State 6-1
15 Nebraska 7-1
16 Ohio State 6-1
17 Utah 6-1
18 Oklahoma 5-2
19 LSU 7-2
20 West Virginia 6-2
21 Clemson 6-2
22 UCLA 6-2
23 East Carolina 6-1
24 Duke 6-1
25 Louisville 6-2