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The remaining quartet of undefeated teams in Division I-FBS college football has taken hold of the top four spots in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings.
Georgia remains at No. 1 after dismantling Mississippi State on the road 45-14, thereby clinching an SEC Championship Game berth.
After an ugly 21-7 win during a rainy and windy day at Northwestern, the Ohio State Buckeyes got back on track with a dominant 56-14 victory over Indiana.
Led by running back Blake Corum and a dominant defensive display, the Michigan Wolverines handled their business with a 34-3 win against Nebraska.
TCU had a tough draw at Texas last Saturday, but the Horned Frogs kept winning by taking down the Longhorns 17-10.
It’s not a given those four teams will ultimately make the playoff. USC could get in if it wins out. The same goes for two-loss LSU, which will face Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. Tennessee should also finish this year 11-1, barring big upsets at South Carolina or Vanderbilt.
For now, there are two weeks left of regular-season games before Championship Week. Here’s a look at how the rankings shake out right now.
Week 12 CFP Rankings
2. Ohio State
11. Penn State
13. North Carolina
14. Ole Miss
15. Kansas State
18. Notre Dame
19. Florida State
22. Oklahoma State
23. Oregon State
24. North Carolina State
Georgia’s path to the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff is crystal clear. The Bulldogs have road games against a 6-4 Kentucky team that just fell at home to Vanderbilt, which had been winless in the SEC. They then host in-state rival Georgia Tech, which is 4-6 and lost 41-0 to Ole Miss.
The SEC Championship Game matchup with LSU then looms. If Georgia wins its remaining two regular-season games but loses to LSU, it should still make the CFP by virtue of its 12-1 record, SEC East title and previous wins over Top 10 teams Tennessee and Oregon.
Ohio State should take care of business on the road against the Maryland Terrapins, which were outscored 53-10 in their past two games. Archrival Michigan will be heavily favored at home against a reeling Illinois team that started 7-1 but has since lost its past two.
Provided they both pick up wins this weekend, the 11-0 Buckeyes and 11-0 Wolverines will then play in Ohio Stadium on Nov. 26 with a Big Ten East title and conference championship game berth on the line.
The winner will advance into the Big Ten title matchup against the West division victor. Currently, Illinois, Iowa, Purdue and Minnesota are tied at 4-3. Regardless of the team that comes out of the West, OSU or Michigan will be heavily favored and should earn a top-two spot in the CFP with a victory.
The loser has reason to worry.
TCU could roll into the postseason as an undefeated Power Five conference winner if it defeats Baylor, Iowa State and whoever finishes second in the conference to determine the final Big 12 title game participant.
USC’s lone loss this year came by one point on the road at Utah, a Top 15 team. The Trojans’ schedule down the stretch won’t be easy thanks to games against UCLA and Notre Dame, but wins in those two matchups plus a championship game win against a to-be-determined opponent would put the Trojans at 12-1 with a Power Five title.
Meanwhile, LSU still has a CFP pulse given its SEC title game appearance, and Tennessee could make a strong case by ending the season with an 11-1 record, with its lone blemish coming against the No. 1 team in the nation.
The bottom line is that there’s still plenty to sort out right now, and until then, the top seven or eight are a complete mess while the proceedings finish up.