Here’s the penultimate set of College Football Playoff rankings:
We’ll start with the No. 5 and No. 6 teams, Oklahoma and Ohio State. We’ll touch on No. 4 Georgia soon, but since Georgia plays No. 1 Alabama in the SEC championship game, the fifth and sixth spots are significant.
If Alabama and Oklahoma take care of business in their conference championships, the Sooners will likely be College Football Playoff bound, because a win over Texas would hold more weight than an Ohio State win over Northwestern in the Big Ten title game. Oklahoma doesn’t control its own destiny, but all things considered, it has a great shot to be one of the final four teams standing. That’s the biggest takeaway from Tuesday.
And if that happens, Alabama-Oklahoma would be a heck of a matchup. Sure, Tua Tagovailoa would probably rip the Sooner secondary to shreds, but Kyler Murray and the OU offense could do the same thing to the Alabama defense. And it feels right to slot Oklahoma ahead of Ohio State. The Sooners have flaws, but we know they have a historically potent offense. The Buckeyes are all over the place. One week, they’ll cream Michigan. Another, they’ll barely eke one out against Maryland. It’s tight, but the committee made the right call here.
That said, Ohio State still has a chance at the Playoff. Alabama would need to beat Georgia, Texas would need to upset Oklahoma and the Buckeyes would need to handle the Wildcats. Two of those outcomes are likely; one would take some good fortune, but Texas has already beat Oklahoma this season. Considering where OSU was a few weeks ago, fans have to be thrilled that the Buckeyes are in the CFP conversation this late in the season.
Things would get interesting if Georgia upsets Alabama this weekend. But in that event, it still feels like the Crimson Tide would get in, unless they get blown out by the Bulldogs. That would be tough news for Oklahoma and Ohio State, provided they win their conference championship games. Alabama is clearly the best team in the country right now and it’s hard to envision the Tide falling four spots in a one-week span, regardless of what happens in Atlanta. That said, an Alabama loss would certainly shuffle the order of the top four.
Speaking of which, it’s noteworthy that Notre Dame held on to the No. 3 spot. Would an Oklahoma win over Texas catapult the Sooners past the Fighting Irish? It’s a fair question, but Notre Dame has looked much better than Oklahoma this season based on eye test. There’s been a lot of chatter that the Irish will wind up fourth in the final rankings, but Tuesday’s poll is a good sign for Brian Kelly’s squad.
We’ve only touched on the top six teams here because with Michigan at No. 7, that’s likely the cutoff as far as the final four is concerned. The Wolverines won’t play in a conference championship game and are fresh off a tough loss to Ohio State. UCF, still undefeated, checks in at No. 8 and will have a chance to add another win to its resume. But McKenzie Milton’s gruesome injury certainly puts a damper on things. The Knights could jump Michigan with a win, but their CFP chances are slim to none.
Some other notes outside of the final four discussion: LSU and Washington State, which took tough losses over the weekend, fell to 10th and 13th, respectively. Washington, which topped the Cougars, moved up to No. 11. The Huskies are the highest-ranked Pac-12 team, and the league will miss the Playoff once again. No. 24 Missouri and No. 25 Fresno State were the new teams to join the rankings this week, a nice accomplishment for each. It’s been a heck of a year in the Mountain West.
The final rankings will be released Sunday afternoon on Dec. 2, and there’s going to be plenty of exciting action on Friday and Saturday for college football fans. This is one of the best times of the year.