Georgia Jumps Ohio State in Only Top-Eight Shakeup
Not a ton has changed from a week ago. Each team ranked in Week 11’s top eight won over the weekend. Not ready to rock the boat when several sailors are on a crash course right into one another, those results compelled the committee to keep the status quo in Week 12.
That means little change from the matchups I broke down a week ago and a College Football Playoff field that remains untouched. But with teams like Ole Miss and Penn State going down, others have moved up to replace them in non-playoff New Year’s Six contests.
Remember: this is not a prediction of what is to come. It is a snapshot of what the world would be if the rankings we have now were the final ones. That means No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan meeting in the semifinal, which you and I both know would never happen in real life, but that’s the setup at this very moment. With Ohio State and Michigan, Georgia and Alabama, Oregon State and Washington, Oregon State and Oregon, probably Oregon and Washington, and probably Louisville and Florida State still yet to meet before the last order is announced, there is almost no way that this is what things look like in mid-December. Strap in, because we’re very close to finally getting the answers we want from the only indisputable source.
Once we’re there, you can celebrate bowl season with Splash’s Bowl Pick X format, the same contest that gained popularity on RunYourPool. Make your picks and try to collect some cash in the process. It’s possible that some of the matchups outlined here will be a reality in a few short weeks. What better time than the present to begin your evaluations?
Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal): No. 1 Georgia (SEC #1) vs. No. 4 Florida State (ACC #1)
Georgia made a major statement last weekend, and it boosted it to No. 1. The Bulldogs launched the Rebels into orbit, 52-17, toying with the top-10 opponent like were UM-Tupelo; Georgia just about doubled its opposition in yards gained in the game with 611 to Ole Miss’s 352 as Carson Beck tossed for more than 300 yards and two touchdowns and Jaxson Dart was held to his worst game of the season. The chatter that this Georgia team wasn’t like the last two from a couple of months ago is completely quiet now, and more and more it looks like we might see the sport’s first three-peat in 90 years.
Georgia’s remaining schedule: at No. 18 Tennessee, at Georgia Tech, vs. No. 8 Alabama (SEC Championship Game)
Rivalry games in college football are rarely straightforward. Florida State experienced that last weekend in its heated affair with Miami in which the Canes gave the Noles one of their toughest tests of the season so far. But it wasn’t enough to knock Florida State from the ranks of the unbeaten as the Seminoles prolonged their program’s overall winning streak to 16, 27-20. Although No. 15 LSU from Week 1 is still Florida State’s only win over a team currently included in the College Football Playoff Rankings, the committee chose to continue the Seminoles in the No. 4 spot this week. That’s a pretty good indicator that an undefeated, ACC-champion Florida State team would be in the four-team field.
Florida State’s remaining schedule: vs. North Alabama, at Florida, ACC Championship Game (opponent to be determined)
Sugar Bowl (CFP Semifinal): No. 2 Ohio State (Big Ten #1) vs. No. 3 Michigan (Big Ten #2)
The Buckeyes fell one spot in the College Football Playoff Rankings this week in favor of Georgia despite smashing Michigan State, 38-3, in Columbus in a game that was over from the opening quarter. Now 10-0, the Buckeyes continue to chip away at an undefeated season. Marvin Harrison Jr. might be the best player in the country, let alone wide receiver, and this defense is allowing the second-fewest points per game in the FBS (9.9). But the season won’t be a success without a win in Ann Arbor in two weeks.
Ohio State’s remaining schedule: vs. Minnesota, at No. 3 Michigan, Big Ten Championship Game (if applicable)
Without Jim Harbaugh on the sideline, Michigan evaded Penn State in Happy Valley, 24-15, to acquire what is by far the best win the Wolverines have experienced this season. The Michigan defense smothered the Nittany Lions, living up to its role as one of the nation’s stingiest. The Wolverines are holding opponents to the fewest points per game in the FBS (7.5) and keeping pass attacks to their lowest output per game of any defense in the country (134.6). This Michigan team is a real threat to bring home the program’s first full championship in 75 years.
Michigan’s remaining schedule: at Maryland, vs. No. 2 Ohio State, Big Ten Championship Game (if applicable)
Fiesta Bowl: No. 5 Washington (Pac-12 #1) vs. No. 9 Missouri (SEC #3)
Washington retained its spot in the Fiesta Bowl and hopes for a bid to the College Football Playoff with a 35-28 home win over then-No. 18 Utah, the second week in a row that it played and defeated a ranked team. It doesn’t get much easier next week with a trip to Corvallis to take on No. 11 Oregon State, and the Beavers have some added motivation to ruin Washington’s day. A loss in that one would make the Fiesta Bowl more of a reality for the Huskies.
Washington’s remaining schedule: at No. 11 Oregon State, vs. Washington State, Pac-12 Championship Game (if applicable)
The Tigers leapfrogged their way into a New Year’s Six game with a resounding 36-7 dismantling of then-No. 13 Tennessee. That performance convinced the committee to jump Missouri over Louisville despite its extra loss, a sign of how strong the committee considers this team to be. With two losses and no SEC Championship Game on the horizon, there will be no College Football Playoff for the Tigers, but a New Year’s Six bowl is well within reach.
Missouri’s remaining schedule: vs. Florida, at Arkansas
Orange Bowl: No. 8 Alabama (SEC #2) vs. No. 10 Louisville (ACC #2)
Kentucky was no match for Alabama as the Crimson Tide put the Wildcats at bay, 49-21, to improve to 9-1 on the season. For weeks now, Alabama has been asserting itself back into the national conversation with wins over Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Tennessee, and LSU. Jalen Milroe is not the same quarterback he was to start the year, which Kentucky learned the hard way via three passing touchdowns and three rushing scores. If Alabama becomes the SEC champion, it’s much more likely to be playing for a national title than a bowl of oranges.
Alabama’s remaining schedule: vs. Chattanooga, at Auburn, vs. No. 1 Georgia (SEC Championship Game)
It wasn’t pretty, but it doesn’t have to be. Louisville got through Virginia alive, 31-24, to limit its L column to one and stay in the hunt for the College Football Playoff. The Cardinals need just one more ACC victory to secure a spot in the conference’s title game, which will be more likely if their defense plays as it did in the two weeks before the game against the Cavaliers when it allowed a combined three points against Virginia Tech and Duke. If Louisville wins all three of the possible showdowns ahead of it, then a CFP bid is well within the realm of possibility.
Louisville’s remaining schedule: at Miami, vs. Kentucky, ACC Championship Game (vs. No. 4 Florida State, if applicable)
Peach Bowl: No. 11 Oregon State (Pac-12 #3) vs. No. 24 Tulane (G5 #1/AAC #1)
Following a 62-17 thrashing of Stanford and a couple of teams ahead of them suffering defeats, Oregon State is in a New Year’s Six position. Its two losses eliminate the Beavers from contention for the CFP, but they control their own destiny to the Pac-12 title. The margin for error is nil, and you won’t find a team with a tougher path to get here, especially if Oregon State runs this gauntlet and is rewarded with the Pac-12 Championship Game. With all of the added fuel of abandonment, these next few games mean a lot more to the Beavers than they already would.
Oregon State’s remaining schedule: vs. No. 5 Washington, at No. 6 Oregon, Pac-12 Championship Game (if applicable)
The committee dropped Tulane a spot in its rankings for its struggle win over three-win Tulsa, 24-22, a symbolic gesture that has no impact on the Green Wave’s ability to reach their goals of an American Athletic crown and New Year’s Six invitation. So long as Tulane doesn’t derail in the final two weeks of the year or in the AAC Championship Game, it will be the highest-ranked group-of-five team, and it will find itself in one of these prestigious pairings. That was the third-straight time an opponent played Tulane within a field goal, though. How sustainable is what Tulane is doing right now?
Tulane’s remaining schedule: at FAU, vs. UTSA, AAC Championship Game (if applicable)
Cotton Bowl: No. 6 Oregon (Pac-12 #2) vs. No. 7 Texas (Big 12 #1)
Oregon held off USC, 36-27, behind more than 400 yards passing and four tossing touchdowns from Bo Nix to tread water in the Pac-12 title and CFP races. The Ducks have cemented themselves as one of the best teams in the nation and would be in Washington’s position if not for their coin-flip flop to the Huskies in Seattle about a month ago. If all goes according to plan, a shot at revenge will be offered, but the nation’s highest-scoring offense (46.3 points per game) has plenty of work to do first to get there; the Beavers would love nothing more than to dash the Ducks’ dreams in the last scheduled Civil War.
Oregon’s remaining schedule: at Arizona State, vs. No. 11 Oregon State, Pac-12 Championship Game (if applicable)
Texas took another step toward its first Big 12 title since 2009 last week, stiff-arming upset-minded TCU, 29-26, in Fort Worth to improve to 9-1. The game marked the return of Quinn Ewers, who completed two-thirds of his passes for more than 300 yards and a score, and it served as another example of how these Longhorns have been different than those of the recent past. The quarterback’s assimilation back into the lineup is a great sign in Austin, and Texas is three wins away from a probable introduction to the College Football Playoff. But not even a Cotton Bowl bid is guaranteed yet – Ames will have other ideas this Saturday.
Texas’s remaining schedule: at Iowa State, Texas Tech, Big 12 Championship Game (if applicable)
In the Hunt
No. 12 Penn State: the loss to Michigan was devastating for Penn State’s Big Ten and national title hopes, but the New Year’s Six is still well within grasp. If the Nittany Lions take care of Rutgers and Michigan State like they will be expected to do, then their 10-2 record would almost certainly have them ranked in the top 11 and in one of these big games.
No. 14 Oklahoma: The Sooners are well in the race to reach the Big 12 Championship Game, though they would need some help to make it happen, plus get the job done at BYU and versus TCU. A conference championship is the only way for Oklahoma to ensure a New Year’s Six invitation, but if it does get to 10-2, that could be enough for an at-large anyway.
No. 15 LSU: with no hope of an SEC championship and three losses already to their name, the Tigers are not in an ideal position to reach the New Year’s Six. If they win out against Georgia State and Texas A&M and there is mayhem in front of them, then they could sneak in. But with four other SEC teams appearing to be better positioned for bids, LSU’s season is more likely to end elsewhere.
No. 16 Iowa: The Hawkeyes have clinched at least a share of the final Big Ten West title, but they need another win to ensure they’ll be the ones representing the division in Indianapolis against Michigan or Ohio State. Without a victory in the Big Ten Championship Game, Iowa probably won’t be ranked well enough to earn an at-large invite to a New Year’s Six bowl, even if it does outdo Illinois at home and Nebraska on the road over the next two weeks. It seems to be an auto bid or bust for the Hawkeyes.
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