11/20 19:02 CST For 3rd straight week, 'Bama, Clemson, ND, Michigan top CFP
For 3rd straight week, 'Bama, Clemson, ND, Michigan top CFP
By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Michigan were at the top of the College
Football Playoff rankings Tuesday night, marking the first time in the
five-year history of the postseason system that the same teams held the first
four spots for three straight weeks.
Unlike last week, there was a little movement in the top 10. Central Florida
moved up two spots to No. 9. The Knights became the first team from outside the
Power Five conference to be ranked in the selection committee's top 10.
Georgia remained No. 5, followed by Oklahoma at sixth. LSU remained seventh,
Washington State held at 8 and Ohio State stayed at 10th.
No. 11 was Florida, which could help the Gators secure a New Year's Six bowl
bid. Penn State is 12th.
UCF'S LONG SHOT
There does not seem to be a realistic path to the playoff for UCF. What about
an unrealistic one? Maybe. Imbalanced conferences have set traps for playoff
contenders that UCF athletic director Danny White could not have laid out any
There is a case to be made that there is literally no way UCF would be allowed
in the playoff. The conspiracy theorist would say the selection committee has
been given their Power Five marching orders and that's that. There is a glass
ceiling over UCF no matter the chaos in the other conferences. The less cynical
would say UCF's schedule, not as rigorous as the other top teams, would
deservedly keep the Knights out even if the alternative is teams that have lost
two or even three games.
CFP executive director Bill Hancock has often said there is no glass ceiling on
the Group of Five teams. They just need aggressive and fortuitous nonconference
scheduling. The example often give is Houston of the American Athletic
Conference in 2016. The Cougars, coming off a Peach Bowl victory like UCF this
season, beat two highly ranked Power Five teams with star quarterback that
season --- Oklahoma with Baker Mayfield and Louisville with Lamar Jackson. But
they lost three conference games and didn't even earn a major bowl bid.
But a Group of Five team with those types of nonconference victories, plus a
strong conference record and league title, would have a chance to make the
UCF doesn't have those victories this season. Its game against North Carolina
was cancelled by a hurricane, and the Tar Heels aren't any good, anyway. UCF
did play and pound Pittsburgh in September and the Panthers have turned out to
be a good enough to reach the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game
against Clemson in two weeks.
The Panthers (7-4) are one of the keys that could help UCF pick the lock on the
Northwestern (7-4) of the Big Ten and Utah (8-3) of the Pac-12 have also
clinched spots in their respective conference championship game, and Texas
(8-3) could do the same in the Big 12 on Friday by beating Kansas.
UCF needs all these teams to win their conference titles and Alabama to win the
Southeastern Conference at 13-0. At that point Notre Dame would likely reach
the playoff no matter what it does against Southern California this weekend.
Let's just assume the Irish win and are 12-0 and in.
That leaves two spots and four of the five Power Five conference champions have
at least three losses. None of those teams are getting in. The conference title
game losers could still be in the mix, but what if these are the conference
title games losers?
--- Washington (8-3) after the Huskie beat Washington State in the Apple Cup.
--- West Virginia (8-2) after the Mountaineers beat Oklahoma.
--- Ohio State (10-1) after the Buckeyes beat Michigan.
--- Clemson (11-0) after the Tigers beat South Carolina.
That would leave Clemson 12-1, with a loss to Pitt --- the team UCF crushed.
Assuming Clemson gets a mulligan and gets into the playoff, every other team
would have at least two losses. At that point, wouldn't the committee have to
give UCF a chance?
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