There were no changes to the top five in the College Football Playoff selection committee’s third ranking on Tuesday night, with No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 TCU holding steady as the nation’s only remaining undefeated teams, followed by No. 5 Tennessee.
After a 66-24 thumping of unranked Missouri, the Vols remained the committee’s highest-ranked one-loss team, keeping them in contention for the playoff without winning their division. Georgia clinched the SEC East and will face No. 6 LSU, the highest-ranked two-loss team, in the SEC championship game. If LSU wins its conference, it could make history as the first two-loss team to reach the CFP.
Tennessee could become the fifth team to make the CFP without winning a conference title, and the third not to win its division, along with 2016 Ohio State and 2017 Alabama. The SEC has had multiple teams make the CFP twice — including last season when Georgia beat Alabama to win the national title.
Without a conference championship, the Vols will face greater scrutiny by the selection committee and will be banking on impressive wins against Alabama and LSU to win a debate against a Power 5 conference champion.
USC (9-1) is now the Pac-12’s highest-ranked team at No. 7 after Oregon lost Saturday to Washington, dropping the two-loss Ducks to No. 12. The Pac-12 has six teams ranked in the CFP top 25 with the addition of No. 23 Oregon State, including two in the top 10 (USC and No. 10 Utah).
USC can clinch a spot in the conference title game Saturday with a win at UCLA, and Oregon will face Utah in another game that will help determine Pac-12 championship participants.
TCU clinched a berth in the Big 12 championship game with its 17-10 win at Texas, but the four-loss Longhorns tumbled from No. 18 out of the CFP top 25 this week. It helped the Horned Frogs that No. 22 Oklahoma State popped back into the ranking this week, giving TCU a second win against a ranked opponent, along with No. 15 Kansas State.
There are three more rankings, including the release of the final top 25 on the Dec. 4 Selection Day. No team has been ranked outside the committee’s top 10 at this point in the season and still made the CFP. The lowest was Michigan State in 2015 and Oklahoma in 2019, when both were ranked ninth.
Two-loss Alabama is No. 8 this week, ahead of one-loss No. 9 Clemson, which will play No. 13 North Carolina in the ACC championship.
Following its 38-31 win at Tulane, No. 20 UCF is the Group of 5 leader to earn a bid to a New Year’s Six bowl as the highest-ranked conference champion, followed by No. 21 Tulane.