Sports

Clemson leads college playoff pack, but Alabama is lurking

Clemson leads college playoff pack, but Alabama is lurking

But Wisconsin at No. 5 would reduce the chances of the Buckeyes jumping the Tide with a win. Miami (FL), Clemson's opponent in the ACC Championship game this Saturday in Charlotte, is ranked seventh with a 10-1 record. That combined with an Ohio State win over Wisconsin would make it tough for the committee to hold out Alabama.

UW (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) moved up one spot to No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings revealed Tuesday.

Miami hasn't played for a national championship since a controversial 31-24 double-overtime loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl during the 2002 season.

It has had to make its mere seven wins against Power Five teams count, and that it has, throttling both Georgia and Alabama, the only two teams to rank No. 1 so far this season. "Those teams are close", said committee chairman Kirby Hocutt, the athletic director at Texas Tech.

"Very little separation in the committee's eyes between teams 5 through 8", Hocutt said.

At No. 9, Penn State is probably the highest-ranked team that is without any possible path into the CFP top four.

That is all that stands between Wisconsin and a berth in the College Football Playoff.

The Tigers (11-1) are coming off a 34-10 win over rival SC. The Tigers are viewed as a more complete team than Oklahoma, they beat Auburn and the committee has partially excused the loss to Syracuse because of the injury to QB Kelly Bryant. The Pac-12 is not going to get a team in the playoff, and with the Rose Bowl reserved as a semifinal game, the Pac-12 champ has to go somewhere else; the Fiesta Bowl feels like the best fit to me.

What is a conference championship worth? For those who want to try to read between the lines, Hocutt mentioned conference titles a few times Tuesday night. As of right now, Hocutt is saying the Buckeyes and Tide are close.

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Ohio State is ranked eighth, Penn State is ninth and Southern California is 10th. Georgia would end the year 12-1 as the SEC champion, which qualifies as a virtual lock in the playoff era coming out of this conference.

At No. 2, Auburn makes its debut in the top four after knocking off its second top-ranked team of the season.

But Bama's biggest problem is that the game with the biggest impact on their season was a game they had no control over - Georgia losing to Auburn.

Even though they'd have the Big 12 championship, it's hard to envision a scenario where a two-loss TCU team gets in over Alabama. Oklahoma and Wisconsin rounded out the top four. The Tigers might have some cushion. Alabama is the only team in that group not playing in its conference championship game.

Hate is a strong word. There are not enough earths in the multiverse to comprehend a world in which an undefeated Big Ten champion would not be included in a four-team College Football Playoff, no matter what you think about Wisconsin (and by the way, they're pretty good). Ohio State (10-2), 9.

That ranking prompted this tweet from UCF athletic director Danny White: "You've got to be kidding me!"

At this point, Alabama needs chaos on championship Saturday.

Auburn (No. 2) and Georgia (No. 6) will play in the SEC Championship Game this weekend where the victor will likely make the Playoff.

Say TCU beats Oklahoma and Ohio State beats Wisconsin.


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