The new College Football Playoff rankings are out.
After a week in which a number of top teams played relatively easy opponents, Alabama remains atop the College Football Rankings after Week 12. The most notable change at the top was a flip-flop of ACC teams, as Miami leap-frogged Clemson to move into the No. 2 spot while Clemson. No. 4 Oklahoma is the final team currently in position to qualify four the four-team playoff.
The first two teams currently out are No. 5 Wisconsin, which bolstered its resume with a comfortable win over then-No. 25 Michigan, and No. 6 Auburn, which hosts No. 1 Alabama in an Iron Bowl matchup that will determine the SEC West winner on Saturday.
If Alabama beats Auburn, the Crimson Tide are virtually assured a playoff berth even if they lose to Georgia in the SEC title game. But if Auburn finds a way to pull off the upset this weekend, the committee will be forced to make a difficult decision on a one-loss Alabama team that did not win its conference.
Another SEC team lurks just outside the top four: No. 7 Georgia, which bounced back from a 40-17 defeat to Auburn with a 42-13 victory over Kentucky. Georgia has clinched the SEC West and likely still controls its own destiny. Should the Bulldogs take care of Georgia Tech this week then beat either Auburn or Alabama in the SEC title game, the Bulldogs will likely get a playoff spot.
Unbeaten Miami came back to beat Virginia 44–28 after trailing in the second half, while Clemson had no trouble with Citadel of the FBS. If Miami beats Pittsburgh this week and Clemson wins a tricky game at No. 24 South Carolina, the ACC's playoff picture will be relatively clear: the winner of the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2, which will be between Miami and Clemson no matter what happens this weekend, will get a playoff spot.
No. 4 Oklahoma decidedly beat Kansas 41–3 last weekend, but it did not come without distraction: senior quarterback and Heisman front runner Baker Mayfield will not start his team's final regular season game against West Virginia after he grabbed his crotch, screaming profanities at the Jayhawks. If Oklahoma can get past West Virginia, all that will stand between the Sooners and a return to the Playoff is the Big 12 Championship game.
Wisconsin moved up after beating then-No. 24 Michigan. While it once appeared that Wisconsin might miss the playoff even if the Badgers went undefeated, the chaos at the top appears to have paved a path for the Badgers to reach the playoff should they win out. The Badgers will get the chance to post another much-needed impressive victory in the Big Ten championship game, which increasingly looks like it will come against No. 9 Ohio State. No. 10 Penn State's playoff hopes are virtually non-existent, as the Nittany Lions' loss to Ohio State gives the Buckeyes the edge in the Big Ten East.
The Pac-12 is the most likely Big Five conference to miss the playoff, as the conference's highest-ranked team is two-loss USC at No. 11. The Trojans have won four straight after they were embarrassed at Notre Dame, but they don't have many chances to score resume-boosting wins. Saturday's win over rival UCLA was USC's last game of the regular season, and the Trojans will play either No. 21 Stanford, No. 13 Washington State or No. 17 Washington in the Pac-12 title game. The Trojans aren't dead just yet, but Clay Helton's team needs more than a little help to sneak into the No. 4 spot.
The AAC championship game could well serve as a one-game playoff for the group-of-six conferences' guaranteed bid in a New Years Six bowl. No. 15 Central Florida is is leading the AAC East and is currently the highest ranked non-Power 5 team, while No. 20 Memphis is the second-highest ranked group-of-six team and leads the AAC West. Should those teams falter down the stretch, No. 25 Boise State of the Mountain West could claim the bid.
The full ranking is as follows:
1. Alabama (11-0, SEC)
2. Miami (10-0, ACC)
3. Clemson (9-1, ACC)
4. Oklahoma (10-1, Big 12)
5. Wisconsin (11-0, Big Ten)
6. Auburn (9-2, SEC)
7. Georgia (10-1, SEC)
8. Notre Dame (9-2, Independent)
9. Ohio State (9-2, Big Ten)
10. Penn State (9-2, Big Ten)
11. USC (10-2, Pac 12)
12. TCU (9-2, Big 12)
13. Washington State (9-2, Pac 12)
14. Mississippi State (8-3, SEC)
15. UCF (10-0, AAC)
16. Michigan State (8-3, Big Ten)
17. Washington (9-2, Pac 12)
18. LSU (8-3, SEC)
19. Oklahoma State (8-3, Big 12)
20. Memphis (9-1, AAC)
21. Stanford (8-3, Pac 12)
22. Northwestern (8-3, Big Ten)
23. Boise State (9-2, MWC)
24. South Carolina (8-3, SEC)
25. Virginia Tech (8-3, SEC)