The race for spots in the College Football Playoff’s top 4 is heating all the way up.
The debate about whether a one-loss Alabama may get in without winning its conference ended Saturday when Auburn handed the Tide their second loss. Georgia took care of business against Georgia Tech, but the Bulldogs will be involved a de facto playoff game this week in a top-4 matchup with LSU in the SEC title game. And waiting in the wings should Georgia lose are Utah and Oklahoma, who both won Saturday but have Pac-12 and Big 12 championship games looming against ranked teams in Oregon and Baylor, respectively.
And what if Ohio State (Big Ten) and/or Clemson (ACC) were to lose in their league title games? In other words, there’s still a chance for chaos before the CFP committee releases its final rankings next week. The Group of Five could be included in that if Cincinnati can beat Memphis in their American Athletic Conference championship game rematch, which, if it happens, would almost certainly give Boise State the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bowl bid (assuming the Broncos beat Hawaii in the Mountain West championship game, of course).
Here’s how I voted in this week’s AP top 25.
1. LSU (12-0): Score 50 points. Rinse. Repeat. Joe Burrow and company did it once again in a 50-7 pasting of Texas A&M to cap a perfect regular season. I’m starting to wonder if there’s a defense in college football that can even kind of somewhat, maybe, contain the Tigers’ offensive machine. If not, it’s a wrap.
2. Ohio State (12-0): Another top-15 opponent meant another challenge for the Buckeyes, right? Meh. Michigan hung around early, but OSU’s defense and big-play ability on offense eventually flexed their muscles in the Buckeyes’ eighth straight win over their biggest rival. OSU gets Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game — a team the Buckeyes beat by 31 earlier this season.
3. Clemson (12-0): While everyone wants to talk about what LSU’s offense would look like against Ohio State’s defense in a potential national championship game matchup, don’t forget about the defending national champions. The Tigers, who’ve won 27 games in a row, by the way, cruised past South Carolina to set up an ACC title game matchup against Virginia.
4. Georgia (11-1): The Bulldogs trounced a bad Georgia Tech team, setting up their SEC title game showdown with LSU. It’ll be the nation’s No. 2 scoring defense against the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense Saturday in Atlanta. And Georgia will need to win it if wants to hang around in the top 4.
5. Utah (11-1): Utah won its eighth straight game on the strength of its defense, which held Colorado to just one score over the final three quarters in the Utes’ 45-15 win. Utah now has a chance to add the quality win it’s lacking to its resume when it meets a top-15 Oregon squad for the Pac-12 championship Saturday.
6. Oklahoma (11-1)
7. Baylor (11-1)
8. Penn State (9-2)
9. Wisconsin (10-2)
10. Florida (10-2)
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11. Oregon (10-2)
12. Auburn (9-3)
13. Alabama (10-2)
14. Minnesota (10-2)
15. Memphis (11-1)
16. Michigan (9-3)
17. Notre Dame (10-2)
18. Iowa (9-3)
19. Boise State (11-1)
20. Cincinnati (10-2)
21. Navy (9-2)
22. Appalachian State (10-1)
23. SMU (10-2)
24. Air Force (10-2)
25. Virginia (9-3)
Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter