College Football Playoff Rankings: Top 5, LSU and USC in, Washington makes huge jump into Top 25

With all of the top five teams in last week’s college football rankings holding their serve after last week’s wins, the third edition of the CFP Top 25 released Tuesday night was largely uneventful. Reigning national champ Georgia held on to top spot with fellow undefeated Ohio State, Michigan and California State University in what could be a four-team stadium if today’s playoff game is decided.

Tennessee, with its only blemish coming to Georgia two weeks ago, is still the first team to come out at #5. The Volunteers will have a chance at a playoff spot on the strength of their wins up to this point along with having the best losing streak in a country. Reminder: All but one team ranked first in the CFP preliminary season rankings and was an eventual playoff finalist (Mississippi State, 2014).

A CFP debut for the Vols is not a sure thing, however, they will not have the opportunity to earn additional credit in the eyes of the CFP selection committee by winning the conference championship game. That possibility still exists for No. 6 LSU, which is seeking to become the first losing team to earn a CFP bid in the event’s history. No. 7 seed USC aims to become the first Pac-12 team to make the playoff since 2016-17, while No. 9 seed Clemson looks to make it through the rest of the season unscathed; That would require getting him acquired by the ACC brethren who once lost No. 13 North Carolina State, which has a cultured chance of making a CFP.

Perhaps most notable was the change in the ranking order for the best group of five programs aiming for a six berth for the new year. With a 38-31 head-to-head win over the weekend, UCF (now No. 20) catapulted Tulane (now No. 21) into first place at that opportunity.

The biggest climb in the rankings was Washington, which jumped eight places to No. 17 after beating Oregon State, which dropped six places to No. 12.

Let’s take a look at the entire top 25 CFP rankings. Analysis by dish expert Jerry Palm below.

College Football Playoff Rankings, Nov. 15

  1. Georgia (10-0)
  2. Ohio State (10-0)
  3. Michigan (10-0)
  4. TCU (10-0)
  5. Tennessee (9-1)
  6. LSU (8-2)
  7. USC (9-1)
  8. Alabama (8-2)
  9. Clemson (9-1)
  10. Utah (8-2)
  11. Penn State (8-2)
  12. Oregon (8-2)
  13. North Carolina (9-1)
  14. Ole Miss (8-2)
  15. Kansas State (7-3)
  16. UCLA (8-2)
  17. Washington (8-2)
  18. Our Lady (7-3)
  19. Florida State (7-3)
  20. UCF (8-2)
  21. Tulane (8-2)
  22. Oklahoma State (7-3)
  23. Oregon State (7-3)
  24. NC State (7-3)
  25. Cincinnati (8-2)

Analysis by dish expert Jerry Palm

The only change to the top 10 this week was former Oregon State leaving, allowing LSU, USC, Alabama and Clemson to move up somewhere. Utah also moves into the top 10 before facing off with the Ducks for a leg up in the Pac-12 Championship Game race.

There are only five teams left to control their own destiny chasing a place in the four-team field, but they are not the top five teams in the rankings. The top four control their own destiny, but Tennessee doesn’t. This is because if LSU beat Georgia, the Tigers would move into the top four, and the Vols would be out of luck.

It’s also possible that Tennessee will be passed by a 12-1 champion from another conference, likely USC if the Trojans can pull it off. Their remaining schedule will feature three seeded teams: at UCLA, against Notre Dame and the Pac-12 for the title. ACC winner Clemson-North Carolina will also be playing, but is unlikely to make it into the top four.

Cincinnati makes its first appearance this season in the rankings, posting its entry at No. 25. The Bearcats are the third-ranked AAC team. It’s very likely at this point that the representative of the Big Five at the Cotton Bowl will come from among Cincy, UCF, and Tulane. The Bearcats host the Green Wave to finish out the regular season with the winner likely traveling to Orlando to face the Knights in the AAC Championship.


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