For the second time in three weeks, the College Football Playoff rankings will get a major shakeup Tuesday night, including their third No. 1 team of the season.
Alabama, which replaced Georgia as the selection committee’s No. 1-ranked team two weeks ago, will surrender the top spot in the aftermath of a loss at Auburn. And Miami, which ascended to No. 2 in the committee’s rankings last week, will fall after losing at Pittsburgh.
Clemson and Oklahoma, the Nos. 3 and 4 teams last week, appear poised to claim the top two spots in one order or the other after commanding wins over South Carolina and West Virginia, respectively.
They likely will be joined in this week’s top four by Wisconsin, now the only undefeated power-conference team, and Auburn, which has two losses but has beaten No. 1 teams twice in the past three weeks.
Both Clemson and Oklahoma are 11-1 with resume-building non-conference wins over division champs – Clemson’s over SEC West winner Auburn and Oklahoma’s over Big Ten East winner Ohio State.
Georgia, also 11-1, is expected to climb a spot or two from No. 7, where the committee ranked the Bulldogs the past two weeks.
Tuesday’s rankings, which will be unveiled in a 7 p.m. show on ESPN, will be the committee’s fifth -- and next-to-last -- of the season. Its last set of rankings will follow on Sunday, with the top four teams at that point reaching the playoff.
Saturday’s conference championship games, at least three of which will match teams ranked in the CFP top 10, will be pivotal.
Playoff berths appear squarely at stake in the Auburn-Georgia SEC Championship game and the Clemson-Miami ACC Championship game.
Oklahoma and Wisconsin also are in line for playoff berths if they beat TCU and Ohio State in the Big 12 and Big Ten title games, respectively.
But losses by Oklahoma and/or Wisconsin could open a door for Alabama to reach the playoff despite not reaching the SEC title game.
An Ohio State win over Wisconsin could leave the committee with a choice between one-loss Alabama and two-loss Ohio State, ranked No. 9 last week.
If Ohio State or Auburn makes the playoff, it would mark the first time in the event’s four-year existence that a two-loss team makes it.
If Alabama joins the SEC champion in the playoff, it would mark the first time one conference puts two teams in the field. And if Alabama doesn’t make the field, it would mark the first time the event has been held without the Crimson Tide.
The playoff semifinals will be played in the Rose and Sugar bowls on New Year’s Day, with the winners advancing to the national championship game at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Jan. 8.
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