For the first time since the College Football Playoff rankings first surfaced five weeks ago, the top of the rankings are unchanged.
After a lackluster weekend where some teams didn’t play, and others played and blew out weaker competition, the committee dug its heels in with its top seven and will let rivalry week and championship week sort out the top 4.
Alabama, which beat Western Carolina last weekend, held on to the top spot, while Oregon, Florida State, Mississippi State, TCU, Ohio State and Baylor all followed. UCLA moved up to the No. 8 spot with its win against USC. The Bruins are the highest ranked two-loss team and could make a case for getting into the playoff if they win out. However, that would include a win against the Ducks and might have to jump several one-loss teams ahead of it.
The most interesting thing about this week’s rankings weren't at the top, but rather the bottom where two teams from outside the Power Five conferences emerged for the first time since the first week of these rankings. Boise State appeared at No. 23 and undefeated Marshall showed up at No. 24.
Until now, East Carolina had been the only non-Power Five team to appear in the rankings.
This is interesting because the highest-ranked non-Power Five conference champion will play in a prestigious New Year’s Six Bowl. Of course, Marshall has the easiest path with a game against Western Kentucky to round out the regular season and a date against either Louisiana Tech or Rice in the Conference USA title game.
Boise State still has to play Utah State and if it wins that game, it will play one of a handful of teams in the Mountain West title game.
In the end, the No. 4 spot is still the most closely contested. Committee chairman Jeff Long said Mississippi State is holding strong to the spot, but it still has to play its rival, Ole Miss, this week. TCU, Ohio State and Baylor all have two games remaining, including the Big Ten Championship for the Buckeyes and the Bears highly-anticipated matchup against No. 12 Kansas State.
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