No changes atop College Football Playoff rankings; Penn State 8th | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

No changes atop College Football Playoff rankings; Penn State 8th

Associated Press
1964719_web1_1964719-c2c631f8c9f44a849e06b14e9cc898fc
AP
LSU is first in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, followed by Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia.

The College Football Playoff rankings were unchanged at the top this week, with LSU first followed by Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia.

The selection committee’s third weekly rankings had little movement in the top 10, with Alabama fifth followed by Oregon, Utah, Penn State, Oklahoma and Minnesota.

The committee could face an interesting decision with Alabama in the coming weeks. The Crimson Tide lost quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the season to a hip injury Saturday. Alabama faces Western Carolina this weekend, so playing backup Mac Jones shouldn’t make much difference. On Thanksgiving weekend, the Tide will face Auburn with its No. 2 quarterback, which should give the committee a better read on what kind of a team Alabama is now.

Minnesota and Baylor, both of which lost for the first time last weekend, dropped in the rankings. Minnesota went from eighth to 10th after losing at Iowa. Baylor slipped from 13th to 14th after blowing a 25-point lead to Oklahoma.

Ohio State and Penn State play this weekend in a game that could essentially eliminate the Nittany Lions from the playoff race.

The highest ranked team from outside the Power Five conferences is Memphis at 18th, one ahead of American Athletic Conference rival Cincinnati, and two ahead of Boise State from the Mountain West.

The highest-ranked team from outside the Power Five with a conference championship receives a bid to one of the New Year’s Six bowls.

WHERE IS THIS GOING?

It certainly looks as if the SEC is positioned to have two teams in the final four, but it’s far from a slam dunk.

Tagovailoa’s injury complicates the evaluation of Alabama, and it is difficult to see how it does anything but harm the Crimson Tide’s chances. There is no way to argue the Tide is as good without one of the two or three best quarterbacks in the country and with a backup who has shown to be capable but not a star.

Of course, the rest of Alabama’s roster is still about as good and deep as it gets in college football. There is a case to be made that if Jones and Alabama win at Auburn in impressive fashion they could get the Cardale Jones bump from the committee. You might remember in 2014, Jones stepped in for an injured J.T. Barrett in the Big Ten championship game and led Ohio State to a historic 59-0 rout of Wisconsin. That game nudged the Buckeyes past TCU and Baylor and into the fourth seed.

The problem for Alabama is unless LSU collapses down the stretch, the Tide is locked out of the SEC championship game. Alabama was probably going to need some help working its way back into the top four even before Tagovailoa’s injury. Now, it seems the Tide will need some real chaos in other conferences to extend its streak of playoff appearances to six.

So that leaves LSU and Georgia sitting in the top four and on course to meet in the SEC championship game. Barring upsets over the next two weeks, LSU will enter unbeaten and Georgia will be 11-1. (Note: Texas A&M is now the SEC’s Agent of Chaos, playing at Georgia on Saturday and LSU the next Saturday in College Station, Texas).

If Georgia were to win the SEC, beating an unbeaten LSU in the process, it is probably safe to assume the Tigers would still have done enough with victories against Alabama, Florida, Auburn and Texas to stay in the top four.

Twice previously a team that has not won its conference has reached the playoff, but neither Ohio State in 2016 nor Alabama in 2017 reached their conference title game. No team has lost its conference title game and made the playoff. That would be a little weird.

Also, the previous cases of a team getting into the playoff without winning its conference included Ohio State getting in over Penn State, the champion of the Big Ten, and Alabama at 11-1 getting in over several two-loss conference champions.

Neither scenario seems likely this time around, though there are some real traps laid out for the teams at the top of the Big 12 over the next two weeks and many of the Big Ten’ best teams still have to play each other.

Categories: Sports | US-World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.