After overcoming tough games against unranked opponents, the top four teams in Tuesday night’s College Football Playoff rankings remained level, while LSU stayed one spot ahead of USC in fifth place.
Georgia topped the CFP selection committee rankings for the third straight week, followed by Ohio State at No. 2, Michigan at No. 3 and TCU at No. 4. The Buckeyes and Wolverines, who play in Columbus next Saturday, were both behind in the second half of last week before keeping their unbeaten records intact. Michigan and TCU both needed green field goals in the last minute to hold off Illinois and Baylor, respectively.
USC’s dramatic away win over crosstown rivals UCLA wasn’t enough to overtake two-loss LSU, who beat UAB 41-10 at Tiger Stadium. Lincoln Riley’s team ranked No. 5 in both the AP and Coaches’ polls on Sunday, USC’s first AP top-five ranking since September 2017. The Trojans’ only loss was a point in the away game against Utah, which ranked 5th 14 fell after his loss in Oregon.
“That’s been a dominant conversation for the past few days to make sure we’re looking at it right,” NC State athletic director CFP Committee Chairman Boo Corrigan said on the ESPN rankings release show in regards to picking ranked 5. “There’s reasons for USC to be #5, there’s reasons for LSU to be #5.”
Tennessee, who finished fifth last week, fell to No. 10 after their 63-38 away loss to South Carolina.
LSU wraps up the regular season at Texas A&M before taking on Georgia in the SEC championship game. USC is hosting Notre Dame this week, who moved up three spots in the selection committee rankings to No. 15. The Trojans’ Pac-12 championship opponent will be determined next weekend. Oregon, which moved up three spots to 9th after winning Utah, can secure a place in Las Vegas by beating 21st state Oregon on the road.
A loss in Oregon this week would open the door for Washington and No. 13 Utah to reach the Pac-12 championship.
Alabama and Clemson both moved up one spot in the rankings to No. 7 and No. 8 respectively. Clemson will host an unranked South Carolina team on Saturday but has victories over Florida State, which is up three places to 16th, and Louisville, which entered the rankings at 25th. Clemson faces an ACC championship matchup with North Carolina, which fell just four places to 17th after losing 4-6 at home to a Georgia Tech team last Saturday.
“They’re looking for football judgements, and that game against Notre Dame… that’s still part of the discussion,” Corrigan said of the Tigers’ 35-14 loss to the Irish. “Overall, we saw Alabama at seven and Clemson at eight.”
TCU, which hosts Iowa State on Saturday, will face either No. 12 Kansas State or No. 23 Texas in next week’s Big 12 championship game. Kansas State, up three spots in Tuesday’s rankings, can secure a spot by beating Kansas. If Kansas State falls, Texas would leave if it beats Baylor.
“We go through the same thing every week,” Corrigan said. “TCU has done a really good job of finding ways to win games.”
Tulane is again the top-ranked team in Group 5 at No. 19 after their home win over SMU and UCF’s home loss to Navy. The Green Wave visits No. 24 Cincinnati on Friday, and the winner will host the American Athletic Conference title game next week be. The Tulane-Cincinnati winner could be in for a championship rematch, but UCF No. 22 and Houston could also make the game.