Not much has changed at the top since last week’s College Football Playoff rankings were released. We have the same top five, and after an Oregon loss, everyone who should move up one spot did move up one spot. Last week, we said they got it right, so there’s not much to complain about this week, but we do want to take a look at which teams still have a legitimate path into the CFP.
Georgia’s and TCU’s destinies are in their own hands, although one does wonder whether any Big 12 team’s future can truly be described as their own in such a chaotic conference. That’s up to the gods as much as it is to anyone else. Ohio State and Michigan could absolutely both stay in the top four if their Thanksgiving weekend matchup stays close and if the winner goes on to claim the Big Ten conference championship — and given the state of the Big Ten West, that seems pretty likely at this point.
But this is, after all, college football, and I’d be more shocked if all of that worked out as I’ve spelled it out than if it didn’t. Tennessee is knocking on the door despite a bad loss to Georgia, and they’re not staring down the possibility of an SEC championship game loss. A blowout from OSU or Michigan — or one step out of line from the Horned Frogs — sends the Vols back into the good graces of the committee.
We have LSU at No. 6 to consider, as well, despite two losses. They’ve been passing the eye test on both sides of the ball lately, which we know is important to the committee. Clemson remains on the outside, and their destiny this season is nowhere near their own hands. The Tigers need a lot of things to turn their way — a TCU loss, a Michigan-OSU blowout, an SEC shocker, and a USC Trojans loss — to claw their way back up the rankings.
And can we really expect USC to beat both UCLA and a Notre Dame team that has recently found its identity, as well as the Pac-12 championship? Perhaps — a roster that includes Caleb Williams at quarterback can never be discounted. But it seems that the Trojans may have one too many land mines in their way as they attempt to get out of November to end up as a legitimate contender.