You have to go down all the way to No. 8 to see movement in the post-Week 12 version of the College Football Playoff rankings.
The top seven teams were unchanged from a week ago. That means LSU, Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, and Utah kept their spots from Nos. 1-7. Alabama stayed at No. 5 after beating Mississippi State and losing Tua Tagovailoa to a season-ending right hip injury.
Penn State moved to No. 8 after beating Indiana at home. Minnesota dropped from No. 8 to No. 10 after losing at Iowa. Oklahoma moved up a spot to No. 9 after beating Baylor. The Bears dropped from No. 13 to No. 14.
Alabama should stay at No. 5 for another week
CFP committee chair Rob Mullens said on ESPN that Tagovailoa’s injury was a topic of discussion but didn’t change the evaluation of Alabama’s season so far.
“For this week, we still noticed that Alabama carried on to a convincing win,” Mullens said of the Tide’s 38-7 victory over Mississippi State.
Mac Jones takes over as the starting QB for the Crimson Tide now that Tagovailoa is done for the year. The Tide plays Western Carolina on Saturday and that game should be a blowout. Alabama will probably be at No. 5 again next Tuesday.
After that, the Crimson Tide travel to Auburn for the final game of the regular season. Assuming a big win by LSU over Arkansas on Saturday, that’ll be the last game of the season for Alabama ahead of a bowl game. The Tigers will clinch the SEC West with a win over the Razorbacks.
If Alabama finishes the season at 11-1, it’ll probably be at No. 5 in the CFP rankings on Dec. 3. But it’s anyone guess what happens after that ahead of the final rankings on Dec. 8. Georgia and LSU would be playing for the SEC title, meaning a team ahead of Alabama will lose a game on Dec. 7. And there could be 12-1 champions of both the Pac-12 and the Big 12 as well.
Oklahoma now just behind the Pac-12
No. 9 Oklahoma has No. 8 Penn State between itself and No. 6 Oregon and No. 7 Utah. But the Nittany Lions are three-score underdogs at No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday. A Penn State loss combined with an Oklahoma win over TCU would put Oklahoma right behind the two Pac-12 teams.
The Sooners play No. 21 Oklahoma State to end the regular season and will likely get a rematch with No. 14 Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game. Wins over two ranked opponents at the end of the season should put Oklahoma in the discussion for a top-four spot.
But simply being in the discussion may not be enough. If Oregon or Utah wins the Pac-12 with a 12-1 record, the Pac-12 champion could continue to have the edge over the Sooners to slip into the playoff.
Minnesota and Baylor didn’t fall much
The good news for Minnesota and Baylor is that the committee didn’t penalize them much for their losses on Saturday. The Gophers’ undefeated run ended at Iowa while Baylor lost a 28-3 lead to Oklahoma.
Minnesota is in a far better position than Baylor is, however. It’s reasonable to believe that the Gophers still control their playoff fate, even if the chances of making the playoff are remote. Minnesota has games against Northwestern, No. 12 Wisconsin and potentially No. 2 Ohio State remaining. A 12-1 Minnesota team with a Big Ten title and wins over the Badgers and Buckeyes would certainly look top-four caliber.
While Minnesota’s chances may be remote, Baylor’s could be nonexistent. The Bears have Texas and Kansas to finish out the regular season and then that possible game against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. Baylor is at No. 14 because of its close wins over inferior competition. It seems like it’ll take blowouts in all three of those games and a lot of losses from teams ahead to get the Bears close to the top four.
Group of 5 race gets intriguing
No. 18 Memphis is now ahead of No. 19 Cincinnati in the rankings as the top Group of Five team. That doesn’t mean too much at the moment because the two teams meet on Nov. 29. The winner of that game will be ahead of the loser in the rankings.
Boise State is right behind them at No. 20. That’s where things get interesting. Memphis and Cincinnati could meet each other in consecutive weeks if they both win their AAC divisions. A split in those two contests would assuredly give Boise State the Group of Five spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game if the Broncos win out the rest of the way.
SMU is also back in the rankings at No. 25. If the Mustangs beat Navy and Tulane and Memphis loses to Cincinnati in the final week of the regular season, SMU would win the AAC West. An AAC title could put SMU in Boise State’s neighborhood at the end of the season.
2. Ohio State
8. Penn State
16. Notre Dame
20. Boise State
21. Oklahoma State
22. Iowa State
24. App State
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports
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