College Football Playoff Rankings: UCF jumps Ohio State, moves to No. 9 as top eight holds

The fourth College Football Playoff Rankings for the 2018 season are out, and there were a lot of close decisions to sort through. We will get to that in shortly, but first, let's start with the usual disclaimer.

Nothing in these rankings is overly meaningful in terms of where teams may be ranked at the end of the season. This isn't like the weekly top 25 polls where you hold your position until/unless you lose. In any given week, a team could lose and move up or win and move down. We have seen examples of each over the first four years of this system.

Alabama remains firmly in the No. 1 spot with Clemson checking in just below it, which is unsurprising considering both teams once again won in dominant fashion this past Saturday. Just as it has for the last few weeks, Notre Dame remains in the No. 3 spot with Michigan just behind it at No. 4. In fact, the top eight teams in last week's CFP Rankings all won with West Virginia and Syracuse the only top 15 teams to suffer losses. As such, there was not a ton of shakeup in the top half of this week's rankings.

In a move that is both historic and irrelevant, UCF has not only jumped West Virginia, which lost at Oklahoma State last week, but also Ohio State for the No. 9 ranking this week. The Buckeyes, which remain at No. 10 for the fourth straight week, needed overtime to complete a 52-51 comeback win at Maryland, while the Knights cruised to a 38-13 win over Cincinnati.

It is historic in that it is the highest ranking ever for a Group of Five team. It is also irrelevant because if Ohio State loses to No. 4 Michigan on Saturday, the Buckeyes would end up below UCF anyway and if Ohio State wins, they will jump back over the Knights and more than likely, the Wolverines also stay ahead of them.

Right above those teams in the rankings, LSU continues to hold off Washington State for the No. 7 spot in the rankings. That will not last forever though. The Tigers are done playing after a trip to Texas A&M on Saturday. No. 8 Washington State can still win twice more – this Friday against No. 16 Washington and then against No. 17 Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game. If the Cougars get those two, they will definitely finish ahead of LSU.

Let's take a look at the entire top 25. Additional analysis will follow shortly.

College Football Playoff Rankings, Nov. 20

  1. Alabama (11-0)
  2. Clemson (11-0)
  3. Notre Dame (11-0)
  4. Michigan (10-1)
  5. Georgia (10-1)
  6. Oklahoma (10-1)
  7. LSU (9-2)
  8. Washington State (10-1)
  9. UCF (10-0)
  10. Ohio State (10-1)
  11. Florida (8-3)
  12. Penn State (8-3)
  13. West Virginia (8-2)
  14. Texas (8-3)
  15. Kentucky (8-3)
  16. Washington (8-3)
  17. Utah (8-3)
  18. Mississippi State (7-4)
  19. Northwestern (7-4)
  20. Syracuse (8-3)
  21. Utah State (10-1)
  22. Texas A&M (7-4)
  23. Boise State (9-2)
  24. Pittsburgh (7-4)
  25. Iowa State (6-4)

The other important grouping in this mix are the teams ranked from 11-15 because the top two of those teams could be in line for New Year's Six games. No. 11 Florida leads that list and No. 15 Kentucky brings up the rear, but the only real justification for the Gators to be ahead of the Wildcats is that Chicks Dig the Long Ball. Well, the CFP Selection Committee digs big scoring margins.

Florida's schedule is no better than Kentucky's, and with two FCS schools on it, offset by getting to play LSU, you could argue it is worse. Kentucky won in Gainesville 26-17. Their performances against common opponents were pretty even. Florida beat No. 7 at home. Kentucky beat No. 11 on the road. Florida lost to teams that were a little better than those that beat Kentucky, but the Gators also lost twice at home to teams it should beat. There just isn't enough of a difference between these two to overrule head-to-head, especially since the road team won that game.

West Virginia is still ahead of Texas, as it has to be for now. Penn State can be thrown in that mix just about anywhere, but I am ok with the Nittany Lions at No. 12.

In any event, as it stands, Florida and Penn State are in position for New Year's Six games. We'll see if that holds up over the last two weeks.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Jerry Palm started writing about sports on the Internet right after Al Gore invented it. He was the first to bring RPI out in the open and is one of the pioneers of predicting the March Madness bracket.... Full Bio

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