Neither Alabama nor Ohio State are participating in the conference championship weekend for the first time since 2011.
That doesn’t mean the Crimson Tide or Buckeyes won’t be part of the final conversation. South Carolina opened that door just a little with a 31-30 win over Clemson that effectively knocked those Tigers out of the playoff hunt for the second straight season. Texas A&M upset LSU 38-23 before the SEC championship, effectively knocking out those Tigers even when they beat Georgia.
Ohio State is the most interesting one-loss team in Tuesday’s penultimate ranking by the committee. Will the Buckeyes drop out of the top 6 after a 45-23 home loss to Michigan? It’s a home loss, and it wasn’t pretty given how many splash plays the Wolverines made at The Shoe.
Alabama is the most interesting team with two losses in the rankings. The Crimson Tide lost to Tennessee and LSU, but you know by now that the Crimson Tide have different committee rules. They became the first national champions not to play in their conference championship game in 2017. Will they be the first team with two losses to get this chance?
These are the teams lined up should any of the top four, including three undefeated teams in Georgia, Michigan and TCU and one-loss USC, drop out during the championship weekend.
The college football playoff rankings will be released on Tuesday. Here’s a first look at what these top 7 could look like in week 13:
College football rankings 2022
Four in college football playoffs
1. Georgia (12-0)
Remaining schedule: against LSU
The defending champions are poised to return to the college football playoffs under Kirby Smart, and a win in the SEC championship game would all but guarantee a spot at Atlanta’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Georgia won a fifth straight game against Georgia Tech with a 37-14 win. Stetson Bennett threw a pair of TDs and Kenny McIntosh (12-86, TD), Daijuan Edwards (8-57) and Kendall Milton (4-56, TD) led a relentless rushing charge totaling 264 yards. The Bulldogs have had the opportunity to win back-to-back SEC championships since the Dreipeat in 1980-82.
Remaining schedule: against Purdue
The Wolverines hammered Ohio State for the program’s first win in Columbus since 2000. Running back Blake Corum was restricted with a knee injury, but Donovan Edwards filled in with 216 yards and two second-half TDs that set up a blowout. Quarterback JJ McCarthy (12 of 24, 263 yards, 3 TDs) had four points total, and Jim Harbaugh has positioned Michigan for consecutive Big Ten championships for the first time since 2004-05. Michigan could still be considered for CFP with a loss to the Boilermakers in Indianapolis, but this No. 2 with a path through the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl is looking better.
BENDER: Michigan wrests control of the rivalry from Ohio State
3. TCU (12-0)
Remaining schedule: against Kansas State
The Horned Frogs have their destiny in their own hands ahead of the Big 12 Championship and left no doubt in their 62-14 win over Iowa State. Quarterback Max Duggan (17 of 24, 212 yards, 3 TDs) and running back Kendre Miller (15-72, 2 TDs) led the offensive tackle, and coach Sonny Dykes’ dream freshman season is one step closer to the program first CFP berth. Now a rematch with No. 12 Kansas State — which the Horned Frogs won comeback-style 38-28 on Oct. 22. All TCU has to do is win.
Remaining schedule: against Oregon/Utah
Lincoln Riley is close to leading the Trojans into the CFP in Year 1 after capping an 11-1 regular season with a 38-21 win over No. 15 Notre Dame. That’s two wins against ranked opponents in two weeks. Caleb Williams had 232 passing yards, 35 rushing yards and four total TDs in a scintillating performance that will see him lead the Heisman Trophy ahead of the Pac-12 championship against either No. 9 Oregon or No. 14 Utah. If USC wins this game, the Pac-12 playoff drought that dates back to 2016 will end once and for all.
two to see
5. Ohio State (11-1)
The Buckeyes made it to the playoffs through the back door in 2016, but that path still seems tough. The blowout loss to Michigan keeps Ohio State from reaching the Big Ten championship game and allows a second SEC team to get back in the conversation. CJ Stroud (31 of 48, 349 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) had his moments, but the defense gave way too many big plays to Michigan in the loss. It’s a thorn in the side and is causing a strife with Alabama (who else?) heading into a conference championship weekend that both will miss for the first time since 2011. Time to redeem those wins over Notre Dame and Penn State. That will be the difference.
MORE: Ryan Day isn’t John Cooper, but Michigan is a problem
6. Alabama (10-2)
Are the Crimson Tide really back in the playoff talk? Alabama ended a 10-win season with a 49-27 win over Auburn at the Iron Bowl. Bryce Young (20 of 30, 343 yards, 3 TDs, INT) won his second start against the Tigers — this time without late-game heroics — and he was one of four Crimson Tide players to hit a rushing TD. Now the drama on Tuesday night. Alabama has two losses for a total of four points. Those road losses to Tennessee and LSU were tough, but will that weigh less than Ohio State’s blowout loss at home to Michigan? Would Alabama break the rules and become the first two-loss team to reach the CFP without the benefit of an SEC championship game? It still sounds like a stretch.