Of course, conference championship games could reset the entire top four. Georgia plays No. 14 LSU (9-3) in the SEC Championship on Saturday, Michigan faces unranked Purdue in the Big Ten Title game and TCU plays Kansas State in the Big 12 game. USC faces No. 12 Utah (9-3) in the Pac-12 title game. Any losses among that set could reconfigure the final rankings, which will come out next Sunday at noon.
Ohio State (11-1) stands as the team most likely to move into the top 4 should any of the other teams slip up. The Buckeyes fell from second to fifth and remained ahead of No. 6 Alabama (10-2) should an opening emerge.
Tennessee, which has lost starting quarterback Hendon Hooker to a season-ending knee injury, remains at No. 7, behind Alabama and out of the New Year’s Six consideration, even though the Vols beat Alabama head-to-head.
“It was very much debated amongst the committee, and there was a lot of conversation around that,” Corigan said. “The value of head-to-head is certainly one of the criteria, but we’re looking at a full body of work. When you look at the two losses by Alabama, including one by a last-second field goal to Tennessee, you have to measure in there the loss that Tennessee had to South Carolina. As we went through that, that was part of the determination for having Alabama ahead of Tennessee.”
Meanwhile, LSU was severely penalized for its road loss to Texas A&M this past weekend. The Tigers dropped nine spots to No. 14.
So for Georgia, the blueprint is clear: Beat LSU on Saturday in the SEC Championship game and hold onto the No. 1 spot for the playoff.