Conference championship games are set. There is still a lot of different scenarios that can happen, which will make the next week in football, on the field and off, fun to watch. Here are how the teams should be ranked after rivalry week (rankings of opponents are based off last week’s CFP rankings):
1. Clemson Tigers (11-1)
The Tigers beat yet another ranked team, South Carolina, to finish the regular season 11-1. With other teams ahead of them losing, they move up to the top spot of these rankings.
Clemson has beaten so many quality teams this season it is almost impossible to keep them out of the top spot. Their win against Auburn looks really good after the Tigers were able to beat Alabama. With other wins over Louisville, Virginia Tech, N.C. State and South Carolina, Clemson is sitting pretty entering the ACC Championship Game. The knock on them is their loss to Syracuse, but because they didn’t have their starting quarterback healthy for the game, the committee gives them a slight pass.
Ultimately, if Clemson wins in the ACC Championship Game, they are in.
This week: vs. 2 Miami Hurricanes
2. Oklahoma Sooners (11-1)
Baker Mayfield was suspended for two plays, but it didn’t matter. Oklahoma outscored another Big 12 team in West Virginia. They too benefit from teams ahead of them losing and are now in a great spot.
Oklahoma has big wins over TCU, Oklahoma State and Ohio State, making their resume really impressive. The loss to Iowa State isn’t that bad. With so many wins over great teams, including over a top ten team in Ohio State, Oklahoma controls their own destiny.
There haven’t been too many upsets in conference championships during the CFP era, but Oklahoma needs to stay focused against a tough opponent.
This week: vs. 12 TCU Horned Frogs
3. Auburn Tigers (10-2)
Auburn knocked off a number one team for the second time this season when they beat Alabama by 12. The Tigers played a physical and defensive game to beat Alabama and will get one more chance to prove what they can do to the committee.
The Tigers have beaten Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi State for a list of really good wins. They do have two losses, to Clemson and LSU, but the wins make up for it. At this point the committee can’t put Alabama or Georgia over them, so by virtue of winning their tough games, they are in the CFP slot at three.
They get a rematch in the SEC Championship Game to solidify their spot in the CFP.
This week: vs. 7 Georgia Bulldogs
4. Wisconsin Badgers (12-0)
The Badgers finished off the regular season undefeated after destroying their rival Minnesota. They may not have played the toughest schedule, but they are undefeated in a power conference, so they should be ranked within the top four this week.
Wisconsin’s big wins are over Northwestern and Michigan. Northwestern has won nine game on the season, while Michigan has won eight. Neither are great wins, but both are solid.
They will need to have their biggest game of the season, but if the Badgers win the Big Ten Championship, they are in the playoff.
This week: vs. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes
Next four out
5. Georgia Bulldogs (11-1)
Georgia didn’t have any trouble with their rival, Georgia Tech, and finished the season at 11-1. They get to move up the rankings slightly, but will need to win the SEC Championship Game to make the CFP.
The win at Notre Dame really helps them, as well as their win over Mississippi State. While they did get blown out by Auburn, they get a chance at revenge against them in the SEC Championship Game.
Basically, if Georgia wins, they are in.
This week: vs. 6 Auburn Tigers
6. Miami Hurricanes (10-1)
In a Friday noon game that was easy to lose in the shuffle of the holiday weekend, Miami lost a road game to Pitt. This was a game they couldn’t get the offense going and suffered their first loss of the season because of it.
Miami blew Notre Dame out and also had a big win over Virginia Tech. They were not able to play a full 12 game schedule due to all of the hurricanes this fall, which hurts them, but only minimally. The Hurricanes lost to Pitt, who is not a good football team. The good news is that they still control their own destiny.
Can the “U” come all the way back and win an ACC Championship Game with so much at stake?
This week: vs. 3 Clemson Tigers
7. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1)
Alabama is out of the SEC Championship race after losing to Auburn. It was their first loss of the season, but their offense couldn’t get much done against a stifling Tigers’ defense.
Even though it is their first loss, they have to wait and see how other teams do next weekend to see if they can make the CFP. They have solid wins over LSU and Mississippi State, but have yet to beat an elite team. Their hope is that they can squeeze into the CFP, but they will need help.
The wait and see approach is never fun, but that’s all Alabama fans can do right now.
This week: N/A
8. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2)
The Buckeyes got the win in their big rivalry game over Michigan. They finished with 10 wins in the regular season and now get to play Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.
The loss to Iowa hurts, while losing to Oklahoma is a little more understandable. For good wins, the Buckeyes bring their wins over Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan to the table.
If they beat Wisconsin, Ohio State will have a shot at the CFP.
This week: vs. 5 Wisconsin Badgers
Next four out
9. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)
Penn State beat Maryland this week to finish off a second straight double digit win season. This win will solidify their spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game, but they will not be able to make the CFP.
Their two losses are to Ohio State and Michigan State, but they don’t have many good wins. Their best wins are over Iowa and Michigan, so their resume will not be good enough.
A New Year’s Six Bowl is not a bad finish, but Penn State fans had higher hopes.
This week: N/A
10. USC Trojans (10-2)
USC finished their season a week early and got to watch all of the football unfold this week. They already have 10 wins and qualified for the Pac-12 Championship Game.
The Trojans lost to Notre Dame and Washington State. Those teams are both of good quality, but the wins haven’t made up for the losses. Arizona and Stanford are their best wins and that isn’t good enough to make the CFP. The only way they have a chance is if the committee goes crazy and thinks that the PAC-12 Champion deserves to be in.
They get to try to avenge one of their losses in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but it is likely too little, too late.
This week: vs. 17 Washington Huskies
11. TCU Horned Frogs (10-2)
TCU gets to play in the Big 12 Championship Game as a result of their win over Baylor this week. The Horned Frogs pulled away late to secure the victory.
Unfortunately, even if they win the Big 12 Championship Game over Oklahoma, they likely won’t get in. They do have good wins over Oklahoma State and West Virginia. The losses to Oklahoma and Iowa State aren’t bad, but the resume isn’t good enough to get them in the CFP.
Can the Horned Frogs be the spoiler for Oklahoma’s CFP chances?
This week: vs. 4 Oklahoma Sooners
12. UCF Golden Knights (11-0)
The Golden Knights finally find their way to the top 12 after defeating rival USF to finish the season off undefeated. They did lose the opportunity to play 12 games due to a hurricane, but are undefeated nonetheless.
UCF has beaten Memphis and USF who are both quality teams. They also beat a power five team in Maryland. The hurricane canceled a game against Georgia Tech that could have helped their resume, even though the Yellow Jackets are below .500. Their wins over Memphis and USF are better than they’ll ever get credit for, but they don’t play quality teams every week in the AAC.
They play Memphis in the AAC Championship Game this week, which should once again bolster their case to move up the rankings. With other teams losing ahead of them, they could get close to the CFP top four, but will likely be a handful of spots short.
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