Well, Saturday was certainly interesting. With a couple of weeks under its belt, the College Football Playoff rankings got a lot less definite as three of the top four teams lost. Now that there are open spots, which teams will move up and come closer to reaching their dreams?
Here are TNJN’s Week 12 College Football Playoff rankings.
1) Alabama Crimson Tide
Three of the top four teams lost on Saturday. The one constant? Alabama continued to roll. The Crimson Tide annihilated an overmatched Mississippi State team, 51-3. With their performance, the Tide – if they hadn’t already – have firmly established themselves as the No. 1 team in the country. This is Alabama’s world, and until someone steps up and challenges them, we’re all just living in it.
Resume wins: USC, at Ole Miss, Arkansas, at Tennessee, Texas A&M, at LSU
What’s next: vs. Chattanooga
2) Ohio State Buckeyes
Oh, how much can change in a week, huh? In TNJN’s College Football Playoff rankings from last week, Ohio State was just fifth – on the outside looking in. After a crazy, upset-filled week, though, the Buckeyes are up to No. 2. Over the past two weeks, Ohio State has demolished its opponents by a score of 62-3 each time – against a then-ranked No. 10 Nebraska and at Maryland. With a loss already, the Buckeyes can’t afford to pick up another, and Iowa may have made things much harder for them. With the Hawkeyes stunning upset of Michigan, it makes it much more likely for Penn State to win the Big Ten East. If Penn State and Ohio State win out, meaning Michigan would have lost to Ohio State, both the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions would be 8-1 in the conference. In that scenario, Penn State would go to the Big Ten Championship Game, due to the head-to-head victory over the Buckeyes. To make a long story short, Ohio State needs to win out AND it needs the Nittany Lions to lose at least one more game – their final two are at Rutgers and against Michigan State. Could the Buckeyes make the playoff without even playing in the Big Ten Championship Game? It’ll be interesting to find out.
Resume wins: at Oklahoma, at Wisconsin, Nebraska
What’s next: at Michigan State
3) Louisville Cardinals
Similar to Ohio State, last week, Louisville was on the outside looking in and needed some help to get back in. One week and several upsets later, the Cardinals have returned to the top four. After a sluggish start – and 12-0 deficit – to Wake Forest, Louisville came to life and won 44-12. That final score included 21 points in the final four minutes of the game. With Clemson’s loss especially, the Cardinals once again have life in their quest to make the College Football Playoff.
Resume wins: Florida State, Duke, North Carolina State
What’s next: at Houston
4) Clemson Tigers
Well, with the amount of losses at the top of the standings, at least one team was going to luck out and remain in the playoff for now. That team, according to TNJN voters, is Clemson. Despite a surprising loss at home to Pittsburgh, the losses by Washington and Michigan opened the door for Clemson to come in at No. 4. After failing to convert on fourth down with less than a minute left in the game, the Panthers drove down the field and kicked the game-winning field goal. Tigers’ fans should thank the Huskies and Wolverines for keeping Clemson’s playoff hopes alive and well. Despite the loss, Clemson still leads the ACC Coastal – they own the tiebreaker over Louisville – and as such, the Tigers control their own destiny. If they win out and win the ACC Championship Game, they will once again make it into the College Football Playoff.
Resume wins: at Auburn, Louisville, Florida State
What’s next: at Wake Forest
On the outside looking in
5) Michigan Wolverines
What needs to happen: After steamrolling through the season, things got much more interesting when the Wolverines fell to Iowa. In fact, it turns out that their loss to the Hawkeyes was much more harmful to their rivals Ohio State than anyone else. Michigan can still win the Big Ten East if it simply wins its remaining two games – including the showdown at Ohio State – because of its head-to-head victory over Penn State.
What this means is that, despite being on the outside looking in right now, Michigan is actually in a better spot than Ohio State is. The Wolverines simply need to win out to make the Big Ten Championship Game, and a win then would surely secure their playoff spot.
6) Washington Huskies
What needs to happen: Like Michigan, Washington is still in a decent spot despite losing on Saturday. If the Huskies win their final two games – at home against Arizona State and on the road at Washington State – they will win the Pac-12 North and secure their bid in the Pac-12 Championship Game. If they win the conference, the question then becomes whether the committee would take them as a 12-1 conference champion, or look in another direction.
It seems hard to believe that the playoff committee wouldn’t give them a playoff berth in that scenario, but crazier things have happened.
David Bradford: 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Louisville, 4) Clemson, 5) Penn State, 6) Washington
Chase Carder: 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Michigan, 4) Clemson, 5) Louisville, 6) Washington
Robert Hughes: 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Louisville, 4) Clemson, 5) Michigan, 6) Washington
Jonathan Johnson: 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Louisville, 4) Clemson, 5) Washington, 6) Michigan
Dominic LoBianco: 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Louisville, 4) Clemson, 5) Michigan, 6) Wisconsin
Ben McKee: 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Louisville, 4) Michigan, 5) Washington, 6) Clemson
Nathan Odom: 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Clemson, 4) Louisville, 5) Michigan, 6) Wisconsin
Quinn Pilkey: 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Washington, 4) Clemson, 5) Louisville, 6) Michigan
Matt Raymond: 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Louisville, 4) Clemson, 5) Michigan, 6) Wisconsin
Danielle Whaley: 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Louisville, 4) Wisconsin, 5) Oklahoma, 6) Penn State
David Wilson: 1) Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Louisville, 4) Wisconsin, 5) Penn State, 6) Oklahoma
Featured image by Rob Heller
Adam is the Assistant Sports Editor for the Tennessee Journalist and a Junior at UT. Most of his free time is spent watching sports, listening to good music, and enjoying life. If you wish to contact him, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter, @AdamMilliken14, or find him at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/adam-milliken/109/a89/a32.