Key questions for College Football Playoff rankings release

This penultimate ranking could arguably be the most compelling, revealing the top 25 regular-season college football playoffs.

Period.

If there is an upset in this weekend’s conference championship games – most realistically, TCU losing to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship or USC losing to Utah in the Pac-12 title game – it would open the door to controversy and allow for a – Loss Ohio State and Two-Loss Alabama back in talks. The scenario of both TCU and USC losing lends further credibility to the possibility, which is why the biggest question for the committee is how far Ohio State falls. If the Buckeyes are at No. 5, they still have a shot at making the top four with some help. If the committee drops them under Alabama, their position will become even more precarious.

Ohio State is already hanging by a thread after being beaten at home by a Michigan team that played without injured star running back Blake Corum. Alabama, which was an afterthought in the playoff race, could be ahead of both teams it lost to Tuesday — LSU with three losses and Tennessee with two.

Alabama and Ohio State resumes are complete. So whoever the committee thinks is better on Tuesday night appears to have an advantage on selection day — if there’s an opening. A TCU loss wouldn’t rule out the Frogs, but they would be lumped with Ohio State and Alabama as teams that didn’t win their conference. A USC loss would be harder for the committee to justify as the Trojans would have lost to Utah twice, raising doubts in the room that they are “clearly” one of the top four teams. A K-state with three losses doesn’t come in. A three-loss Utah doesn’t come in.

(Re)entry into the state of Ohio and Alabama.

Ohio state’s resume is significantly better than Alabama’s, according to ESPN’s strength of record metric. The average top 25 team would have a 20 percent chance of playing 11-1 or better against the Buckeyes’ plan and a 29 percent chance of playing 10-2 or better against the Crimson Tide’s plan. The committee would also consider that the Buckeyes’ loss was for the No. 3 team.

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said his conference should have two teams in the playoffs “without a doubt”. Speaking up for his team after the Iron Bowl win, Alabama coach Nick Saban said, “We lost two games to top 10 opponents, both in the last game of the game and away. We could have easily won both games but we didn’t.”

Because of this, the Tide still needs help, as does Ohio State. In addition to determining who is in the bubble this week, the committee could also consider a change at the top. Here are three other things to watch on Tuesday night (7 ET on ESPN) when the group unveils their fifth of six rankings:

Who is number 1?

Both Michigan and Georgia could argue for the top spot Tuesday night, and while the order could be flipped now or next week, it will ultimately matter for seeding purposes. Team #1 meets team #4 in a semi-final, and the selection committee is careful not to put the top team at a geographical disadvantage. Michigan owns the best win in the country, against the No. 2 team on the committee. The committee doesn’t try to avoid rematches in the semis, so it’s possible Michigan could end up No. 1 and Ohio State end up No. 4 on pick day.

The Wolverines beat Ohio State 28-3 in the second half on Saturday. They also have a top-25 win over No. 11 Penn State and are No. 2 in the country in record strength. However, Georgia is close behind them at No. 5, with their best wins against Tennessee, Oregon and Mississippi State. However, the Bulldogs have been looking sluggish in the first half lately, recording just 10 points against Georgia Tech and 9 the previous week in a 16-6 win at Kentucky. The committee has said in recent weeks that Georgia has split from the rest of the country as its No. 1 team. Is it still like that?

Can USC skip TCU?

The easiest move for the committee would be to take undefeated TCU to No. 3 after Ohio State’s loss, but USC’s back-to-back wins over ranked rivals UCLA and Notre Dame could give them a bigger boost. Including the Trojans’ win on Sept. 24 at Oregon State — the team that just eliminated rival Oregon from the Pac-12 title game — USC has three wins against teams currently ranked in the CFP’s top 25. No other school has more than two wins against current top 25 opponents.

Which Group of 5 Team Leads for a New Year’s Six Bowl Bid?

The top-ranked conference champion from a Group 5 league is guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl, and that will likely be decided at 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday when Tulane’s No. 19 No. 22 UCF in the American Athletic Conference -Championship receives game. According to ESPN Analytics, Tulane has a 59% chance of winning. No. 24 Cincinnati should drop out of the rankings this week after Friday’s 27-24 loss to Tulane. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the 10-2 UTSA, currently unranked by the committee but set to face North Texas in Friday’s Conference USA title game. According to ESPN Analytics, UTSA has a 74% chance of winning.


ESPN reporters’ top four picks

Andrea Adelson: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC
Blake Baumgartner: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC
Bill Connelly: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC
Heather Dinich: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC
David Hale: 1st Michigan 2nd Georgia 3rd TCU 4th USC
Chris Low: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC
Harry Lyles Jr.: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC
Ryan McGee: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd USC 4th TCU
Adam Rittenberg: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC
Alex Scarborough: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC
Markus Schlabach: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC
Paolo Uggetti: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC
Tom Van Haaren: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC
David Wilson: 1st Georgia 2nd Michigan 3rd TCU 4th USC

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/35132000/key-questions-college-football-playoff-rankings-release Key questions for College Football Playoff rankings release

Emma Bowman

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