Is Utah playing a win-and-in game for the College Football Playoff on Friday night?
The Utes moved up to No. 5 in the penultimate set of playoff rankings Tuesday night following Alabama’s loss to Auburn. Oklahoma is at No. 6 while Baylor is at No. 7. Oklahoma and Baylor play each other Saturday in the Big 12 championship game, a day after Utah plays Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.
Both of the Big 12 teams are 11-1. The winner of the title game would be 12-1, the same record as Utah if the Utes beat the Ducks. Assuming No. 2 LSU beats No. 4 Georgia in the SEC championship game Saturday afternoon, the final playoff spot will come down to Utah and the Big 12 champion in that scenario.
Utah beat Colorado in the final week of the regular season while Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State. The Cowboys dropped to No. 25 in Tuesday’s rankings.
“You’re looking at Oklahoma and their win over a ranked opponent and so you check that box there,” playoff chairman Rob Mullens said when asked about comparing Oklahoma and Utah. “You look at Utah and you say boy they’ve been so consistent all season long and they’ve been dominant. Their defense is incredible.”
The Utes appear to have the upper hand. At the moment, anyway. The committee could decide that a win by the Big 12 champ would be more impressive than a Utah win over No. 13 Oregon. It’s shown that it’s not afraid to make drastic changes on a week-to-week basis.
Alabama drops to No. 12 ... and out of a New Year’s Six bowl?
The committee did not like what it saw from Alabama against Auburn on Saturday in a 48-45 loss to the Tigers. Alabama fell all the way from No. 5 to No. 12 and a spot behind the Tigers. Auburn moved up four spots. It’s the lowest Alabama has ever been in a set of CFP rankings.
“Alabama, their only two losses are to a No. 2 and a No. 11 team,” Mullens said. “However, they only have two wins over Power Five teams with winning records, both Texas A&M and Tennessee, who are 7-5.”
Auburn scored two defensive touchdowns in the win and got some help from the officials’ clock management for a field goal at the end of the first half in the win. Oh, and Alabama played the game with Tua Tagovailoa on the sidelines. Yet the committee saw enough to drop Alabama over a half-dozen spots. And maybe out of the prestigious New Year’s Six bowl games in the process.
At the moment, teams Nos. 5-10 appear to be headed to the four non-playoff New Year’s Six Bowl games. Add in No. 24 Virginia to the Orange Bowl and the highest-ranked Group of Five team and that’s eight teams for four games. And no room for Alabama in the Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl or Rose Bowl.
If the Tide does miss out on a New Year’s Six Bowl, it could end up in the Citrus Bowl while Auburn gets a New Year’s Six spot if Wisconsin falls out of the top 10.
“The New Year's six are decided strictly based on rankings and contracts,” Mullens said. “We'll have to wait and see what the final rankings are. But I would say [Auburn] being at 11 puts them within the range where that could be a topic of conversation after we get through next week's games.”
Minnesota drops 10 spots
Alabama wasn’t the only team that had a huge drop in the rankings. Minnesota went from No. 8 to No. 18 after losing at home to Wisconsin on Saturday. The Badgers moved up four spots to No. 8 with the win.
Much like the movement after the Iron Bowl, the corresponding Minnesota and Wisconsin movement doesn’t make much sense. While the game for Paul Bunyan’s Axe wasn’t close, Minnesota dropped all the way behind Memphis and a three-loss Iowa team that gave the Gophers their first loss of the season.
1. Ohio State
10. Penn State
15. Notre Dame
19. Boise State
21. App State
25. Oklahoma State
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports
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