Welcome to Rival Week.
The match between Ohio State and Michigan will be the most attention when both teams are 10-1 and trying to win the Big Ten East. The Buckeyes came to the attention of the College Football League committee after their 56-7 loss to Michigan State on Saturday.
That wasn’t the most impactful result from Week 12. Utah beat Oregon 38-7, which should lead to a big change in the top four in Wednesday’s standings on Tuesday. The door for Cincinnati is open, and Alabama could have some stepping stones even if the Crimson Tide loses to Georgia in the SEC championship game.
Of course, the Iron Bowl goes first. Bedlam also has the top two teams in our rankings, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Ohio State-Michigan, however, is a real game of sorts. The cavalry should be fun.
Sporting News continues to sort those teams based on how candidates are ranked.
Each week, we’ll break down the playoff picture based on how we think the CFP committee should rank the top 10 teams. Future results are not forecast:
Four in a college football league match
1. Georgia (11-0)
Next week: at Georgia Tech
Garris Schwarting intercepted Georgia fumbling 65 yards for a touchdown. That was Charleston Southern’s only score in a massive 56-7 loss. The quarterback Georgia Stetson Bennett, JT Daniels and Carson Beck all had TD passes. A total of 11 Georgia players had a go at it, including a tackle on defender Jordan Davis in the 1-yard TD. A dozen Bulldogs catch a pass. The Bulldogs may be the only Power 5 school to finish unbeaten in the regular season with a win over Georgia Tech. Georgia’s defense is rated 7.5 points per game. No doubt at number 1.
2. Ohio State (10-1)
Next week: in Michigan
Who said no? Buckeyes could be ahead of the Crimson Tide in the next leaderboard, and we wouldn’t be surprised if that happens. Oregon’s second loss is also great news in Columbus. Ohio State beat Michigan State 56-7 in a top-10 head-to-head that could see the committee push the Buckeyes up. Ohio State has enjoyed three wins over their home rivals, and CJ Stroud has been the Heisman Trophy’s favorite over the past two weeks with an average of 47.2 fouls per game. The game at Michigan is next. Ohio State has won the last 8 meetings.
3. Alabama (10-1)
Next week: at Auburn
Arkansas challenged Alabama in a shootout at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and the Crimson Tide won 42-35. It was a nitrogen pick, but Alabama’s last two wins at the SEC West were both one-pointers and it was a challenge playing at Auburn during the Iron Bowl. Bryce Young (31 of 40,559 yards, 5 TD) continues to excel, and Jameson Williams (8 catch, 190 yards, 3 TD) is an interesting late-voting Heisman candidate. If you want to put the Crimson Tide before the Buckeyes, that’s fine too. They could tackle it on the field in a potential 2-3 game if it comes to that.
4. Cincinnati (11-0)
Next week: in East Carolina
Style point? The Bearcats beat SMU 48-14, and it was 41-0 after three quarters. Desmond Ridder overcame 274 yards, dashed 46 yards and a total of four TDs. Jerome Ford turned back when running backwards, and the defense limited the Mustang to a total of 199 yards. Oregon’s defeat opened the door, and the Bearcats still have a one-loss head-to-head win over Notre Dame. This is a great example of Bearcats coach Luke Fickell putting his team in control of what they can control. That leads to another stop in the American Athletic Conference championship game, where they will face Houston. Cincinnati should now take last place.
5. Michigan (10-1)
Remaining schedule: in the state of Ohio
Will the committee dare to push the Wolverines into a position to create a top 5 head-to-head with the Buckeyes? That would be for theatrical purposes. Michigan can tackle it on the field. The Wolverines took out Maryland with a score of 59-18 in the final adjustment before The Game. Cade McNamara (21 of 28, 259 yards, 2 TD) continues to play well, and Michigan should get Blake Corum back to the Buckeyes. This is Jim Harbaugh’s third team to have a 10-1 record in the Ohio State game, and this team is at the Big House. Victory, and werewolves won the championship in the Big Ten game for the first time.
6. Notre Dame Cathedral (10-1)
Remaining schedule: at Stanford
Ireland beat Georgia Tech 55-0 in an impressive match, but the road to the knockout stages remains complicated without the benefits of a conference championship game. Notre Dame looks impressive with five consecutive double-digit wins. Jack Coan overcame 285 yards and twice TD, and the game ran 212 yards over 6.4 yards each time. That loss to Cincinnati is still an issue, and get ready for a potential debate involving Alabama’s two losses and one loss to Notre Dame. That could come soon.
Four to see
7. Oklahoma State (10-1)
Remaining schedule: compared to Oklahoma
Bring back Bedlam. The Cowboys won their fourth straight game since their loss at Iowa State with another impressive performance at Texas Tech. Oklahoma State won 23-0, and the defense continued its impressive streak. Red Raiders are limited to 25 yards. Midfielder Spencer Sanders continues to lead the attack, and now the chance to break the Sooners’ six-game losing streak is here. Can a Big 12 champion who loses a match still make it to the knockout stages? Oklahoma State got a fair shot knowing it beat Baylor and Oklahoma didn’t.
8. Oklahoma (10-1)
Remaining schedule: in the State of Oklahoma
The CFP committee may not see it the same way, but Oklahoma has a better path than any two-loss team. The Sooners returned from their loss to Baylor with a 28-21 win over Iowa State; another one-scoring win requires a last-minute defense. This is Oklahoma’s sixth win by a point this season. That said, Oklahoma has only one loss and road to the Big 12 championship with a win at Oklahoma State on Saturday. ACC’s frontrunner, Wake Forest, also lost. Caleb Williams (8 of 18.87 yards, TD, INT) has struggled with the Cyclones and hasn’t played well in three of his last four games, so there’s a lot to prove.
9. Oregon (9-2)
Next week: compared to the State of Oregon
Sometimes Vegas just knows. Utah’s Brother Corvey hit back with a 78-meter hit in the final game of the first half, leading to a first-half disaster in a 38-7 loss on the road. Utah led 28-0 at half-time. Ducks could not leave the field in the third down leg; allows 11 out of 14 conversions. The Utes defense limited Oregon to 63 yards. These teams could meet in a rematch of the Pac-12 championship game, but that second loss has the potential to knock the Ducks out of the top 4 from the CFP. The Pac-12 hasn’t had a single team in the knockout stages since 2016.
10. Baylor (9-2)
Remaining schedule: compared to Texas Tech
Baylor sealed a 20-10 home win at Kansas State with the help of a tough defense that allowed only 263 yards. The Bears could close the 10-match season under second-year coach Dave Aranda with a home win over the Red Raiders. Baylor will make it into the Big 12 title game with a win next week and a loss in the organizers. A Big 12 team that loses two won’t make it to the College Rugby Qualifiers, but Baylor could still win the Big 12 title game for the first time and take sixth place on New Year’s Day .