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Tuesday's college football: Georgia, Alabama 1-2 in CFP rankings

Detroit News staff and wires

Three Big Ten teams are in the top 10 in the first College Football Playoff rankings, which were released Tuesday night.

Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson are the first top four, but Ohio State (sixth), Penn State (seventh) and Wisconsin (ninth) are among the top 10. Ohio State figured to leapfrog Penn State after that stunning, comeback win Saturday, while Wisconsin, despite being 8-0, was docked for a relatively weak schedule.

Michigan State (6-2), coming off a triple-overtime loss to Northwestern, is ranked No. 24, while and Michigan (6-2), with losses to Michigan State and Penn State, is unranked.

The top four in the final rankings after the conference-championship games will play in the national semifinals of the College Football Playoff. The semifinals this season are the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, both on Jan. 1.

The winners will meet in the national championship game on Jan. 8 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Here are the first College Football Playoff rankings:

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 Cal, 7-2

18. UCF, 7-0

19. LSU, 6-2

20. N.C. 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

Gamecocks vs. Bulldogs

South Carolina linebacker T.J. Brunson believes the Gamecocks have their minds right in prepping for their most important Southeastern Conference game in four years.

The Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2 SEC) have won three straight league games for the first time since 2013 after defeating Vanderbilt 34-27.

The Gamecocks face their most impactful game since then on Saturday when they take on powerhouse Georgia (8-0, 5-0 and picked No. 1 in the first College Football Playoff Rankings on Tuesday night) with the SEC Eastern Division championship still in play.

“We’ve worked hard and this would be a statement about who we are,” Brunson, the team’s top tackler, said Tuesday.

It would certainly be a shocker, too.

The Gamecocks have struggled the previous few years after being one of the East’s top teams from 2010 to 2013 under former coach Steve Spurrier. South Carolina reached it’s only the SEC title game in 2010, then were in the thick of the race the next three seasons as they finished 11-2 each time.

But things went sideways for the Gamecocks after that. Spurrier walked away in the middle of a disastrous 3-9 season in 2015 and new coach Will Muschamp went just 6-7 last year.

Now, he’s got the Gamecocks grinding back toward the top.

“Our goal is to win the (SEC) East,” South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley said.

“That’s what we’ve been working for since summer, spring practice, fall camp. That’s what we break down every team meeting with. So we know what our goals are and we always have that mindset of making it to Atlanta.”

Hawkeyes defense

At 5-3 overall and just 2-3 in the Big Ten, Iowa hasn’t lived up to its annual expectation of competing for the West Division title.

Just imagine where the Hawkeyes might be if it wasn’t for their defense.

The Hawkeyes are ranked 12th nationally at just 17.4 points allowed per game, and they’ve held their last four opponents below that.

Iowa was the only team in the country with more than one player named a semifinalist on Monday for the Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defender.

Linebacker Josey Jewell and cornerback Josh Jackson made the list for the Hawkeyes, who host third-ranked Ohio State (7-1, 5-0) on Saturday.