The fourth edition of the College Football Playoff Rankings was released Tuesday night, and as we head into the final week of the regular season, we have a new No. 1 team with Ohio State taking over the top spot from LSU.
The Buckeyes' 28-17 win over new No. 10 Penn State, which only fell two places in the rankings, added enough juice to their strength of schedule to overcome the Tigers, which throttled woeful Arkansas, 56-20. Ohio State also has a huge advantage in the eye test category. The Buckeyes have been the most dominant, complete team in college football this season. Penn State was the first team to lose to Ohio State by fewer than 24 points. This move was coming next week for sure if both teams won again, but it is perfectly justifiable now.
That does not mean this race for No. 1 is over, even if both teams win out. Ohio State has a better opponent again this week in Michigan, while LSU takes on Texas A&M. However, the Tigers will have a better foe in the SEC Championship Game (Georgia) and could possibly have a much better one if Ohio State draws Wisconsin again.
The battle for No. 1 is important because the No. 2 team will face No. 3 Clemson in the CFP semifinal, assuming the Tigers handle their business in the ACC Championship Game. There is a significant gap between three and four this season.
The current No. 4 is still Georgia, which beat Texas A&M, 19-13. Alabama holds onto No. 5 after scrimmaging Western Carolina.
Utah moved up to No. 6 after their 35-7 win over Arizona and the 31-28 loss by Oregon to Arizona State. The Ducks dropped a whopping eight spots to No. 14; the only thing surprising about that is that the first team to beat them, Auburn, is right behind at No. 15.
Oregon's loss is bad news for Utah because, if the Utes win the Pac-12 title, that win will come over a team much further down the final rankings than if the Ducks entered that game at 11-1. And considering that will be Utah's only win over a ranked opponent, that difference could be costly.
Oklahoma, a 28-24 winner over TCU, moved up two spots to No. 7. No. 8 Minnesota is also two places higher this week following a 38-22 win at Northwestern. Each team has big rivalry games this week as the Sooners visit Oklahoma State for Bedlam and the Gophers host Wisconsin with a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game on the line. Not to mention Paul Bunyan's Axe.
Let's take a look at the entire CFP Rankings top 25. Additional analysis from Jerry Palm is available below, including a look at Baylor's big rise up to No. 9.
College Football Playoff Rankings, Nov. 26
- Ohio State (11-0)
- LSU (11-0)
- Clemson (11-0)
- Georgia (10-1)
- Alabama (10-1)
- Utah (10-1)
- Oklahoma (10-1)
- Minnesota (10-1)
- Baylor (10-1)
- Penn State (9-2)
- Florida (9-2)
- Wisconsin (9-2)
- Michigan (9-2)
- Oregon (9-2)
- Auburn (8-3)
- Notre Dame (9-2)
- Iowa (8-3)
- Memphis (10-1)
- Cincinnati (10-1)
- Boise State (10-1)
- Oklahoma State (8-3)
- USC (8-4)
- Iowa State (7-4)
- Virginia Tech (8-3)
- Appalachian State (10-1)
Baylor finally got some respect from the committee after a 24-10 win over Texas, which is kind of surprising since the Longhorns are unranked. Perhaps the CFP Selection Committee had an epiphany about the Bears, which moved up five spots to No. 9, passing three two-loss teams they were previously ranked behind. This is important because it clears a path for Baylor to get to the playoff. If the committee still thought so little of it to leave it behind several two-loss teams this week, it would not seem likely that wins over Kansas and even Oklahoma would earn enough cache from the committee to push for the top four.
The ACC has a second team in the rankings this week as No. 24 Virginia Tech makes its first appearance. The Hokies are 8-3 with losses at Boston College and Notre Dame and another at home to Duke. However, their overall schedule is dreadful and includes two FCS opponents. They have played well the last three games, but that should not really erase the fact that they struggled over the previous six games against FBS teams.
The Hokies' placement in the rankings likely means that the winner of their game with 8-3 Virginia will enter the ACC Championship Game present in next week's rankings.
Remember: The playoff does not start today, and the season can get wacky over the final couple of weeks. All four spots in the field remain up for grabs with rivalry games and top 25 showdowns ahead down the stretch of the 2019 season.