When the College Football Playoff selection committee’s next-to-last rankings of the season are revealed Tuesday night, the top four teams figure to stay the same as last week, including Georgia at No. 4. But there will be a new No. 5 to replace Alabama.
That spot is significant because if Georgia loses to favored LSU in the SEC Championship game Saturday, the No. 5 team will be in prime position to move into the top four — and the playoff — if it wins its conference title game.
Utah was No. 6 last week and seems likely to move up to No. 5 on Tuesday after its 45-15 win over unranked Colorado. But the committee again will compare Utah with Oklahoma, last week’s No. 7 team, which defeated then-No. 21 Oklahoma State 34-16.
Utah (11-1) plays Oregon (10-2) in the Pac-12 Championship game Friday, and Oklahoma (11-1) faces Baylor (11-1) in the Big 12 Championship game Saturday. Baylor was ranked No. 9 by the CFP last week, figures to move up a spot or two Tuesday and still sees a conceivable path to the playoff if it beats Oklahoma and if Oregon beats Utah and LSU beats Georgia.
If Georgia (11-1) loses to LSU (12-0), the winner of the Pac-12 or Big 12 title game likely would become the fourth team in the playoff. Tuesday’s rankings could foreshadow how the selection committee would view a Utah-or-Oklahoma choice if both win their conference title games, although it should be noted that the committee constantly stresses that it evaluates all teams anew with each set of rankings.
If Georgia defeats LSU, the Bulldogs would make the playoff, and LSU would be expected to remain in the top four, too, likely closing the playoff door to the Pac-12 and Big 12.
Alabama’s loss to Auburn, the Crimson Tide’s second loss of the season, means the playoff will be held without Bama for the first time in the event’s six-year history. Alabama dropped to No. 9 in this week’s Associated Press and coaches’ polls and likely will drop similarly in the CFP rankings.
Tuesday’s rankings will be the fifth set compiled since Nov. 5 by the 13-member selection committee. The committee’s final rankings of the season will be revealed Sunday afternoon and will set the field for the four-team playoff.
One of the semifinal games, matching either the No. 1-ranked team vs. No. 4 or No. 2 vs. No. 3, will be played in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 28. The other semi will be played in Glendale, Ariz., in the Fiesta Bowl, also on Dec. 28.
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