Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State remained the top four teams in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday heading into a weekend when just about all the contenders are facing challenging rivals.
TCU was fifth, Ohio State was sixth and Baylor seventh. The only team in the top eight to change was UCLA, which slipped into the eighth spot.
For the first time, teams from the so-called Group of Five conferences made the top 25. Boise State moved in the rankings at No. 23 and unbeaten Marshall is 24th. The highest ranked team from outside the Big Five conferences is guaranteed one spot in the four New Year's Bowls affiliated with the playoff but not hosting semifinals.
Alabama hosts Auburn on Saturday. Florida State plays Florida; Oregon is at Oregon State and Mississippi State visits Mississippi. TCU plays at Texas on Thanksgiving night and Ohio State hosts Michigan on Saturday. Baylor plays Texas Tech at the Dallas Cowboys' stadium in Arlington, Texas, the site of the national championship game.
Committee chairman Jeff Long said the difference between Nos. 4-7 is still very close.
The 12-member committee was down to 11 this week because former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese was sick and not up for the trip to Dallas. Long said Tranghese is expected back next week.
Long also caused a bit of a stir when on ESPN's rankings show he mentioned how the rankings of teams at the time they played are factored into the committee's decision. Long has said each week the 12-member committee starts with a clean slate and that one week's rankings should have no bearing on the next.
Long later clarified that remark, saying first that no rankings other than the committee's - which started Oct. 28 - are taken into account. He added that a team's previous ranking was something the committee was aware of and not a determining factor.
''Although I will say a team that is 6-5 and has been previously ranked is going to hold more weight than a 3-8 or sub .500 team, which is an obvious thing,'' he said.
Long said there has been debate among the committee members about Florida State and whether the Seminoles' many close calls are a sign of weakness or strength.
Unbeaten Florida State has rallied from a halftime deficit five times and had five one-score games.
''There's certainly those who view a team coming from behind and winning as a sign of a strong team, and there's others who might believe that they're a good enough team, they should have been in front or more in control of the game as they progressed.'' Long said.
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