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CFB Playoff Top 25
1. LSU Tigers (9-0)
For the first time in eight years, LSU beat Alabama 46-41 and they looked mighty impressive in the process. The top ranked Tigers offense was on a tear early in the game, with Heisman favorite Joe Burrow throwing for nearly 300 yards and three scores in the first half. There were questions going into the game about the defense, with sack leader and senior leader Michael Divintiy leaving the team for personal reasons. However, the two turnovers the Tigers forced from Tua Tagaovailoa in the first half were likely the difference maker in the game. At this point it kind of feels like LSU is going to be in the playoffs one way or another. That win against Bama is added to an already very impressive record with wins against Texas, Florida and Auburn. Barring some insane meltdown in the next couple of weeks, the Tigers are sitting pretty.
Next Up: at Ole Miss (4-6)
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0)
After taking the top spot in the initial playoff rankings, the Buckeyes took a (small) step back in the top 25 even after a dominant performance on both sides of the ball. QB Justin Fields had four touchdowns in the first half and didn’t play hardly any of the second half. He didn’t need to, as they were up 42-0 and would put on another 30 points without him. The Buckeyes gained over 700 yards of total offense and held Maryland to under 150 yards on offense. Expect much of the same from them this Saturday, probably even better considering they’re playing Rutgers, a college football team that is just barely a college football team.
Next Up: at Rutgers (2-7)
3. Clemson Tigers (10-0)
Thanks to an easy 55-10 win against NC State — and losses by Alabama and Penn State — Clemson managed to jump back into the top four this week and with good reason. The Tigers, despite playing an underwhelming schedule, have been very impressive as of late with the offense showing signs of life after a rocky start. Both QB Trevor Lawrence (276 yards, 3 TDs) and RB Travis Etienne (112 yards, 2 TDs) are in top form and playing like dark horse Heisman contenders down the stretch. Next up is Wake Forest who, after a bad loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday, fell out of the top 25. That means Clemson will have not faced a ranked team at all this season. Regardless, they’ve done enough to warrant their #3 ranking.
Next Up: vs Wake Forest (7-2)
4. Georgia Bulldogs (8-1)
The Bulldogs have been steadily clawing their way back into the playoff race behind their dominant defense that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown all year, despite their inconsistency on the offensive side of the ball. QB Jake Fromm has the tools to be a decent pro quarterback, but he’s struggled to put together a productive season and the offense took a big hit in their win against Missouri: in addition to RT Isaiah Wilson, the Bulldogs lost starting C Trey Hill and G Cade Mays in the process. Those are big pieces (literally) to fill on offense, and facing a very good Auburn defense this weekend will surely add to the pressure of keeping this coveted fourth seed.
Next Up: at #12 Auburn (7-2)
5. Alabama Crimson Tide (8-1)
For the first time in a long time — 34 games, to be exact — Alabama lost a home game, ending the country’s longest streak. While the Tide fought hard in the second half to make a game of it, it wasn’t enough as LSU took them down and took over their spot atop the SEC West. QB Tua Tagovailoa did everything he could on a bum ankle, including throwing for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, one of which came on a 80 yard touchdown with a minute left. Nick Saban’s crew is a mainstay in the college football playoff race, and it’s hard to imagine a situation where they won’t make it in but here we are. They do have an opportunity to make up ground, but they’ll need a few things to fall their way — including help from rival Auburn this week Georgia before facing the Tigers to end the year.
Next Up: at Mississippi State (4-5)
6. Oregon Ducks (8-1)
The Ducks got the week off but managed to move up a spot thanks to two top 4 losses. That bye week should pay off for the defense, as Oregon has given up nearly 30 points per game in their last three contests after averaging 7 points allowed per game. Their next opponent, Arizona, is currently in the middle of a four game losing streak where they have surrendered at least 40 points per game during that stretch. QB Justin Herbert (2,329, 24 Touchdowns) bounced back from a touchdown-less against Washington State and will look to add to his impressive collegiate resume.
Next Up: vs Arizona (4-5)
7. Utah Utes (8-1)
Much like the Ducks, the Utes got some help in the form of their bye as they too moved up one spot in the rankings. They had their hands full their last time out against Washington and while they have managed to shut teams down against the run (56 yards allowed on the ground), they have shown vulnerability against pass-heavy offenses like Washington and USC. This week they host UCLA, a sub-.500 team that averages 400 yards a game with nearly identical pass numbers. They should, however, be able to rely on Zack Moss (828 yards, 11 touchdowns) and their running game to get the job done at home.
Next Up: vs UCLA (4-5)
8. Minnesota Golden Gophers (9-0)
Aside from LSU beating Alabama, no team in college football made a bigger statement last Saturday than Minnesota did, jumping nearly ten spots after their 31-26 win against Penn State. The Gophers looked great on both sides of the ball, with QB Tanner Morgan having an impressive day (339 yards, 3 TDs) and WRs Rashod Bateman (203 yards, 1 TD) and Tyler Johnson (112 yards, 1 TD) both catching seven passes. The defense let a shaky 2nd half Penn State offense get back in the game, but still managed to force three turnovers in the process. They’ll look to keep impressing the committee as they travel to Iowa to take on the #20 Hawkeyes.
Next Up: at #20 Iowa (6-3)
9. Penn State Nittany Lions (8-1)
Penn State surprised a lot of people when the committee put them fourth on last week’s top 25. They surprised a whole lot more after falling to Minnesota 31-26, in a game that was surprisingly efficient on offense. The Nittany Lions haven’t been a great second half team, but Saturday showed they had some fight in them late in the game. QB Sean Clifford threw for 350 yard and 3 scores, but his 3 interceptions were costly, including one in the endzone that sealed the game in the final minute. It was a tough loss for a team that has fought hard all year, and it won’t get any easier as they face an (surprisingly) efficient Indiana offense this week and the Big 10 juggernaut Ohio State in two weeks.
Next Up: vs Indiana (7-2)
10. Oklahoma Sooners (8-1)
The Sooners looked like they had shook off that Kansas State loss in the first half of last Saturday’s game against Iowa State, with QB Jalen Hurts throwing for five touchdowns in two quarters. Why are they not higher, then? Well, they only won 42-41 and were held to just one touchdown in the second half. The defense gave up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including the potential game winning score with less thirty seconds remaining. They did, however, manage to stop the Cyclones when it mattered most — intercepting the two-point conversion for the win. They’ll face an even luckier team, #13 Baylor, this weekend in a huge Big 12 matchup.
Up Next: at #13 Baylor (9-0)
11. Florida Gators (7-2)
The Gators bounced back from their Georgia loss in a big way by shutting out Vanderbilt 56-0 at home behind QB Kyle Trask’s career day. The junior play caller threw for 363 yard and 3 touchdowns, the best outing for a Gators QB since Tim Tebow hung up his spikes way back when. Trask wasn’t the only one who had a big day; the stout Florida defense held Vanderbilt to 120 yards of total offense, recorded six sacks and forced three turnovers, including a 80 yard fumble recovery by LB Jonathon Greenard. The Gators are one of the few teams on a bye this week, and they deserve it after the gauntlet of a schedule they’ve played recently (Auburn, LSU and Georgia in the past month).
Next Up: Bye
12. Auburn Tigers (7-2)
While Auburn’s playoff hopes might be long shot, the fact that they still have even a glimmer of hope is pretty impressive in itself. Yes, they have two losses (Florida and LSU) but they also have a marquee win against Oregon that looks even better now that Oregon is knocking on the door of the playoffs. They have a chance to stop not just one, but two teams from making the playoffs; this week, they host #4 Georgia and will host their longtime rivals, #5 Alabama, shortly after that. If they were to end the season with wins over three top 10 schools, it would definitely warrant a look from the committee.
Next Up: vs #4 Georgia (8-1)
13. Baylor Bears (9-0)
It’s kind of amazing that Baylor is at #13, and I don’t mean this in a good way. They have wins against two teams that are currently ranked (Oklahoma State and Kansas State) but they weren’t ranked at the time of the game. And for the second time this year, the Bears needed multiple OT’s to get past a mediocre conference opponent and because of that have dropped a spot in the top 25. It’s not that they don’t try to win, they do; you could argue they have what it takes in close games because they’ve played in so many of them. Still, they aren’t impressing the committee with those close wins but they have a chance to really make a statement. A win against Oklahoma would change a lot of people’s minds, regardless of the outcome.
Next Up: vs #10 Oklahoma (8-1)
14. Wisconsin Badgers (7-2)
The Badgers ended their two game losing streak at the perfect time, edging out #20 Iowa 24-22 at home. After being held to his worst outing of his career, RB Jonathon Taylor practically carried the entire offense on his shoulders, rushing for 250 yards on 31 carries. Outside of that, Wisconsin still has some work to do as they nearly blew a 21-6 halftime lead and couldn’t get anything going on offense in the second half. Taylor can only do so much, but as long as he’s able to produce quality outings against stingy defenses that might be all they need to squeak out wins.
Next Up: at Nebraska (4-5)
15. Michigan Wolverines (7-2)
The Wolverines had a bye this past week after showing signs of life on offense in recent weeks, and this week they have another chance to add onto their resurgence as they host in-state rival Michigan State this weekend. While this game usually has a lot of stake as far as bragging rights — shout out to BragHouse, where bragging rights are the 2nd best thing you can get on the app next to money — Michigan State has lost their last four games and have given up at least 30 points in their last five games. Jim Harbaugh’s crew is going to keep fighting because even if they don’t make the Big 10 title game they can still their coach two big wins against rivals (they close the year against Ohio State).
Next Up: vs Michigan State (4-5)
16. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-2)
The Irish got a big win on the road against Duke 38-7, behind QB Ian Book’s spectacular day through the air and on the ground. Book threw for four touchdowns and rushed for 140 yards in a game Notre Dame desperately needed to win to salvage their season in hopes of securing a New Year’s Day win. Even with two losses, they’ve played a pretty tough schedule and now they will face another ranked team this week against #23 Navy. The Midshipmen are incredibly efficient on the ground, something the Irish have struggled with at times this season.
Next Up: vs #23 Navy (7-1)
17. Cincinnati Bearcats (8-1)
After narrowly escaping with a win against East Carolina, the Bearcats responded by thumping UConn 48-3 at home to stay atop the AAC. If not for giving up a field goal in the final five minutes of the game, Cincinnati would’ve had their first shutout of the year. They’ll get another chance for another dominant performance against a USF team that is allowing nearly 200 yards a game on the ground, an area where the Bearcats thrive (200 rush yards per game). They’re in a good position for a New Year’s Day bowl if they continue to win out, with a game against #18 Memphis still to come at the end of the season.
Next Up: at South Florida (4-5)
18. Memphis Tigers (8-1)
After a huge 54-48 win against SMU two weeks ago, the Tigers and their high scoring offense will be back in action this week, taking on a Houston team that is down to their third string quarterback. QB Brady White (2,511 yards, 24 touchdowns) and RB Kenneth Gainwell (1,067 yards, 12 touchdowns) have been sensational all year for Memphis and look to continue to lead the way for their team to a New Year’s Day bowl game. The Cougars are giving up 460 yards of offense to opposing teams and struggle when playing against ranked opponents, but Memphis also struggles on defense and have given up at least 40 points a game in their previous two contests.
Next Up: at Houston (3-6)
19. Texas Longhorns (6-3)
Texas jumped back into the top 25 thanks to a big win at home against a pretty hot Kansas State team. The win itself looks good on the Longhorns’ resume, but the way they won the game was more impressive. Down 14-0 early in the game, Texas fought back in the second half to win the game 27-24 and keep their Big 12 title hopes alive. The defense stepped up somewhat in this game, holding the Wildcats to 308 yards of total offense. That’s after giving up an average of 487 yards per game, too. After the game Iowa State just had against Oklahoma, they’ll have to keep it under 400 just to stay competitive.
Next Up: at Iowa State (5-4)
20. Iowa Hawkeyes (6-3)
Iowa managed to stay in the top 25 thanks in part to a good fight on their part in a 24-22 loss at Wisconsin. Normally stagnant on offense, the Hawkeyes managed to come back down 21-6 in the fourth quarter behind Nick Stanley’s two late scores. Still, the defense couldn’t keep Badgers RB Jonathon Taylor in check and lost the game in the trenches. They gave up 300 rushing yards to Wisconsin and will have their hands full once again as they host the surging Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Next Up: vs #8 Minneosta (9-0)
21. Boise State Broncos (8-1)
Another week, another tough test for Boise State, this time in the form of a 20-17 OT win against Wyoming. It was a hard fought contest given the Broncos were without QB Hank Bachmeier after a return to action the week before, but QB Chase Cord once again held down the fort long enough for them to survive with a win. The defense shut down the Cowboys in the fourth quarter to give the offense room to make a comeback, recording eight sacks on the day and forcing two turnovers in the process. The good news is they face a 2-7 New Mexico State team this week that is giving up nearly 500 yards of total offense.
Next Up: vs New Mexico State (2-7)
22. Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-3)
Oklahoma State’s last two games ended with a score of 34-27 and both were wins for the 22nd ranked team in the country. Led by the number one rusher in the nation in Chuba Hubbard (1,604 yards, 18 TDs), the Cowboys are putting up exactly 500 yards of total offense, 267 of which come on the ground. This week, they face a Kansas team that is giving up 235 yards rushing to opposing backs. Hubbard will should have a field day on Saturday and might even jump into the Heisman conversation if he posts a big enough game. For the record, he’s rushed for at least 200 yards four times this year, including 223 yards in the Cowboys’ last game vs TCU and has only posted one game with less than 100 yards on the season.
Next Up: vs Kansas (3-6)
23. Navy Midshipmen (7-1)
The Navy has always prided itself on it’s attention to detail and precision. Why would the football team be any different? The Midshipmen are having another great season this year thanks to an offense that knows how to do only one thing but does it better than any other school in the country: run the ball down teams’ throats. With QB Malcom Perry leading the way (1,042 rushing yards, 16 rushing touchdowns), Navy is averaging an astounding 358 yards on the ground and no matter how many times they run the same play, they move the chains. This week, they travel to South Bend to take on #16 Notre Dame, who gives up 155 rush yards per contest. If they stick to the game plan, they might pull off the upset.
Next Up: at #16 Notre Dame (7-2)
24. Kansas State Wildcats (6-3)
After a string of impressive victories, the Wildcats came back down to earth in a 27-24 loss to Texas. It looked like the Wildcats were going to continue their success after going up 14-0 early in the first quarter, but their offense sputtered in the second half and held to only 51 yards rushing. The good news is that they are (technically) still alive for the Big 12 Championship game but they will need an impressive bounce back performance to turn things around. Even better news, next up they host a 3-6 West Virginia team that is giving 32 points per game.
Next Up: vs West Virginia (3-6)
25. Appalachian State Mountaineers (8-1)
Welcome back, App State! Apparently, a 20-15 win at South Carolina was enough to convince the committee to put them back into the ranks a week after ending their perfect season. It’s a little bittersweet, considering this win would’ve helped their case for a New Year’s Day bowl had they still had their undefeated record. Still, this Mountaineers team has been pretty steady all year long. This week, they face a Georgia State team that is giving up just as many points as it gives up on defense (36 exactly). If the defense can play like it did last Saturday at the Gamecocks, Appalachian State will survive another week in the top 25.
Next Up: at Georgia State (6-3)
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Dec 8, 2019; Grapevine, TX, USA; College football playoff selection committee chairman Rob Mullens speaks to the media during selection Sunday at the Gaylord Texan hotel. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports