Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, and Ohio
Georgia, Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State took their places in the College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday, with Cincinnati remaining in fifth.
There was no movement in the top seven on the selection committee after all those teams won last week. Michigan was still sixth and seventh for Michigan State, heading into Saturday’s big Spartans game in Ohio.
Notre Dame climbed to eighth. Oklahoma State (9-1) is now the 12th-ranked team at ninth after Oklahoma suffered its first loss last week.
Wake Forest (9-1) is ranked 10th, the highest-rated team from the Atlantic Coast Conference with three rankings left until selection on Sunday.
In the College Cup’s seven-year history, no team has come from anywhere further than ninth to reach the fourth round with two places remaining before selection on Sunday. Michigan State did so in 2015, propelled by its victory in Ohio.
Oklahoma was among the top 10 teams that lost last weekend and the Sooners dropped to 13th.
Notable for Cincinnati, trying to become the first team outside of the Power Five conferences to hold the playoff, Houston had moved up the rankings at number 24.
The Cougars have already snatched a place in the American Athletic Conference Championship game, where the Bearcats could be an opponent if they keep winning.
“When I talk about how consistent (Cincinnati’s) position is, this week it’s very solid at number five,” selection committee chair and Iowa state athletic director Gary Barta said.
The Bearcats’ only win over a team ranked in the top 25 of the selection committee is Notre Dame (9-1). They host SMU (8-2) on Saturday and then go to East Carolina (6-4) on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
What is obnoxious
Barring a historic upset in one of the next two games, Georgia will enter a Southeastern Conference championship match – most likely against Alabama – playing for the classification.
– If Alabama wins, including the SEC Championship win over Georgia, it will be.
– Ohio and Oregon need to win to enter. The Buckeyes have potentially the toughest stretch in the country with Michigan State, Michigan and a likely Big Ten match against No. 15 in Wisconsin or No. 17 in Iowa.
Three straight wins would not only leave the Buckeyes locked in, but it would also make Oregon nearly impossible to override the 12-1 scoreline with Columbus’ win over the Buckeyes. No matter how superficial the Pac-12 competition may be.
Utah in 23rd is the only other Pac-12 seeded team. The Utes host the Ducks on Saturday and these teams are positioned to meet again for the main Pac-12 game.
– If Michigan State, or Michigan State, beats the Buckeyes and takes the Big Ten along the way, it will be.
What is not clear
Could Alabama become the first team to reach the playoffs with two losses?
There are two scenarios here: Alabama (9-1) loses a competitive game to Georgia in the SEC Championship game. Or Alabama loses one of the two remaining games of the regular season and defeats Georgia in the SEC title match. It’s hard to imagine the tides not entering under the latter scenario. the previous? Less likely, but never doubt Alabama’s ability to sway the panel.
Can Cincinnati be caught from behind even if they win?
The Bearcats’ biggest threat appears to be Oklahoma State (9-1), which can go 12-1 with the Big 12 Championship and three wins against Oklahoma and Baylor.
There is also a scenario where Michigan State and Michigan State win, giving the Spartans a Big Ten title and easy entry to the playoff and leaving Michigan at 11-1, challenging the Bearcats.
Wake Forest’s victory in the ACC at 12-1 would have a similar resume to the unbeaten Cincinnati, but none as impressive as the road win over Notre Dame.
Unlikely to chase the undefeated Bearcats is the Fighting Irish, who has gone well since losing to Cincinnati by 11 at home but without really notable victories.
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