APTOPIX CFP National Championship Clemson Alabama Football

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney kisses the championship trophy after the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. Clemson beat Alabama 44-16. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) ORG XMIT: CFP275

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That's especially true when it comes to the College Football Playoff. 

Since the new system began in the 2014 season a separate rankings have been issued for the second half of the season -- with the top four heading to the College Football Playoff semifinals. 

While that system shows constant change throughout the 25-team poll, a deeper look gives a glimpse into just how little parity there's been at the top-end of the college football landscape over the past half-decade. 

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Through 32 weeks of the poll, there have only been five teams to reach the No. 1 spot of the rankings -- the most recent addition being Ohio State, which nabbed the top spot in the first edition of this season's rankings. 

A staggering 84% of the other 31 weeks saw the No. 1 ranking held by either Alabama or Clemson. The Crimson Tide have taken that spot 18 times, Clemson eight times. 

The only other schools to get into that position are Mississippi State -- which held the top ranking for the first three weeks of the poll's existence in 2014 -- and Georgia, which held the top ranking for back-to-back weeks in the 2017 season. 

Lack of originality, though, has not meant a lack of accuracy. Clemson, Alabama or both have made it to the championship game each of the past four seasons, where each has won two and lost two. Clemson most recently dominated Alabama 44-16 in January. 

Extending that out to the No. 2 spot, still just 11 teams have cracked into that frame. Oregon has the highest number with five weeks spent at No. 2 in 2014, while LSU and Florida State are the only other schools to have spent multiple weeks as high as No. 2. 

LSU earned its most recent No. 2 ranking on Tuesday. The overall trends were bucked this week with Alabama landing at No. 3 and Clemson landing at No. 5 despite 8-0 and 9-0 records, respectively. 

It's just the fourth time in 32 weeks of rankings that neither Clemson nor Alabama has ranked in the top two, and breaks a string of 28 consecutive weeks with one in the No. 1 or 2 slots dating back to 2014.

The Crimson Tide has a date with LSU on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, with the winner likely having a shot to overtake Ohio State for the top ranking -- and a potential return to the status quo.

How are the rankings compiled?

The CFP selection committee meets each week in Grapevine, Texas, to compile the new top 25 rankings. The rankings are compiled in rounds, with voting on a list of teams to be considered in each round. Teams are then ranked in the next step. Teams Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are ranked in the first round, Nos. 4, 5 and 6 in the second, Nos. 7, 8 and 9 in the third, then groups of four teams are ranked in rounds 4-7. The selection committee uses statistical data and game video to help comprise its rankings, but ultimately the rankings are determined by the collective opinion of the 13 committee members.


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Email Jeff Nowak at jnowak@theadvocate.com

Twitter: @Jeff_Nowak