Alabama keeps top spot in play­off rank­ings

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo

Alabama, Ohio State, Michi­gan and Clem­son held the top four spots in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off rank­ings for the se­cond straight week and Wash­ing­ton moved up a spot to fifth this week.

Alabama, Ohio State, Michi­gan and Clem­son held the top four spots in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off rank­ings for the se­cond straight week and Wash­ing­ton moved up a spot to fifth this week.

Wis­con­sin is sixth in the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee rank­ings re­leased Tues­day night. Louisville was the team that took a big drop. The Cardinals fell from fifth to 11th af­ter los­ing at Hous­ton.

Ohio State and Michi­gan play Satur­day in Colum­bus, Ohio, and the loser is likely — though not def­i­nitely — out of the play­off race. The Wolver­ines would move on the Big Ten cham­pi­onship game by beat­ing the Buck­eyes. The Buck­eyes, though, need help to reach the con­fer­ence ti­tle game.

Un­beaten Alabama meets Auburn on Satur­day, but the Crim­son Tide has al­ready clinched a spot in the SEC ti­tle game.

Clem­son fin­ishes its reg­u­lar sea­son against South Carolina and then will play in the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game against ei­ther Vir­ginia Tech or North Carolina.

Wash­ing­ton must win at Wash­ing­ton State, ranked 23rd by the com­mit­tee, on Fri­day to win the Pac12 North and move on to the con­fer­ence ti­tle game against No. 9 Colorado or No. 12 South­ern Cal­i­for­nia

Buck­eyes look­ing good

Ohio State could get shut out of the Big Ten cham­pi­onship game if Penn State, sev­enth in the com­mit­tee’s rank­ings, beats Michi­gan State on Satur­day. But lis­ten­ing to com­mit­tee chair­man Kirby Ho­cutt it cer­tainly sounds like the Buck­eyes have sep­a­rated them­selves enough from Penn State that the com­mit­tee is will­ing to over­look their loss to the Nit­tany Lions and the pos­si­ble lack of a con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons. The com­mit­tee uses con­fer­ence cham­pi­onships and head-to-head re­sults to sep­a­rate teams with sim­i­lar re­sumes.

But Ho­cutt, the ath­letic di­rec­tor of Texas Tech, said as of now the com­mit­tee does not see a small gap be­tween Ohio State and Penn State.

Ho­cutt said com­mit­tee took a lot of time rank­ing teams two through five, spent lit­tle time plac­ing Wis­con­sin at six, and then found very lit­tle sep­a­ra­tion be­tween Penn State and No. 8 Ok­la­homa, No. 9 Colorado and No. 10 Ok­la­homa State.

The Big 12

Ok­la­homa and Ok­la­homa State have set up a de facto Big 12 ti­tle game for Dec. 3, but the con­fer­ence still looks shutout of the play­off with­out up­sets in the other con­fer­ences. The Cow­boys have two losses but one was against Cen­tral Michi­gan and it came on a last-play touch­down that was set up be an of­fi­ci­at­ing er­ror. Ho­cutt said the com­mit­tee does not ad­just the Cow­boys record for the mis­take, but it does con­sider the cir­cum­stances of the loss.

The Big 12, at the very least, needs one other Power Five cham­pion to fin­ish with two losses to have a shot to make the play­off. But if it comes down to a bunch of teams with two losses the Big Ten seems to have a bet­ter chance to get two teams into the field than the Big 12 has to get one.

USC lurk­ing

The Tro­jans have won seven straight games since start­ing 1-3, play Notre Dame on Satur­day and still have a chance to be Pac-12 cham­pi­ons. With Sam Darnold at quar­ter­back since game four, USC has been looked like one of the best teams in the coun­try and it would be fas­ci­nat­ing to see how much the com­mit­tee weighs im­prove­ment over the course of the sea­son against the full body of work if a cou­ple of up­sets clear a path for the Tro­jans to climb into the dis­cus­sion for the fi­nal spot.

Group of five

There were four teams from out­side Power Five con­fer­ence in the com­mit­tee rank­ings this week, the most at any point this sea­son. The high­est ranked cham­pion from the Group of Five con­fer­ences will re­ceive a bid to the Cot­ton Bowl.

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