After overcoming tough games against unranked opponents, the top four teams in the College Football Playoff rankings remained the same on Tuesday night, while LSU held USC one spot ahead at No. 5.
Georgia led 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 this Saturday, were ranked both trailing in the second half last week before keeping their undefeated records intact. Michigan and TCU both needed last-minute field goals to hold off Illinois and Baylor, respectively.
USC’s dramatic victory over crosstown rival UCLA wasn’t enough to beat LSU by two losses, who defeated UAB 41-10 at Tiger Stadium. Lincoln Riley’s team appeared No. 5 in both the AP and Coaches’ polls on Sunday, USC’s first AP top-five ranking since September 2017. The Trojans’ lone loss came by one point on the road to Utah, which fell to No. 14 after the loss at Oregon.
“That’s been a dominant conversation for the past few days, to make sure we’re looking at it the right way,” Boo Corrigan, CFP committee chair, NC State’s athletic director, said on ESPN’s release show regarding to the pick at number 5. “There are reasons for USC to be number 5, there are reasons for LSU to be number 5.”
Tennessee, which held No. 5 last week, dropped to No. 10 after its 63-38 loss to South Carolina.
LSU ends its regular season at Texas A&M before facing Georgia in the SEC championship game. USC hosts Notre Dame this week, which has moved up three spots to No. 15 in the selection committee’s rankings. The Trojans’ Pac-12 championship opponent will be determined this coming weekend, although Oregon, which is up three spots to No. 9 after the win in Utah, can clinch a spot in Las Vegas by the No. 21 Oregon State beat on the road.
A loss in Oregon this week would open the door for No. 13 Washington and Utah to reach the Pac-12 Championship.
Alabama and Clemson both moved up one spot in the rankings to No. 7 and No. 8. Clemson will not host a ranked South Carolina team on Saturday, but won against Florida State, which has moved up three spots to No. 16, and Louisville , which entered the rankings at No. 25. Clemson is poised for an ACC Championship game with North Carolina, who dropped just four spots to No. 17 after losing at home to a 4-6 Georgia Tech team last Saturday.
“You’re looking for football judgment, and that game against Notre Dame … that remains part of the discussion,” Corrigan said of the Tigers’ 35–14 loss to the Irish. “Generally, in Alabama, we saw at seven and Clemson at eight.”
TCU, which hosts Iowa State on Saturday, will face No. 12 Kansas State or No. 23 Texas in the Big 12 championship game next week. Kansas State, which moved up three spots in the rankings on Tuesday, can clinch a spot by beating Kansas. If Kansas State falls, Texas goes if it beats Baylor.
“We go through the same thing every week,” Corrigan said. “TCU has done a really good job finding ways to win games.”
Tulane is again the highest ranked team of Group of 5 at No. 19, following the home win over SMU and UCF’s home loss to Navy. The Green Wave on Friday visits No. 24 Cincinnati, and the winner hosts the American Athletic Conference title game next week. The Tulane-Cincinnati winner could face a championship rematch, but No. 22 UCF and Houston could also make it to the game.