February 3, 2023

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USC, major winners Alabama, major losers

USC, major winners Alabama, major losers

game

Everything has come together for College Football Playoff selection committee.

There were 13 teams undefeated or lost once in the Power Five conference just four weeks ago. That number was narrowed to 11 after one week, with the addition of a playoff contender with two losses at No. 14 LSU.

Of those ten teams, only five appeared as realistic playoff options with one Saturday remaining in the regular season.

No. 1 Georgia is a lock heading into the SEC Championship game against the Tigers. Likewise with No. 2 Michigan entering the Big Ten tournament against Purdue. No. 3 TCU is in good shape even with the loss in the Big 12 championship game. No. 4 Southern California is set for a rematch with No. 11 Utah to level the Pac-12.

And in fifth place, the committee weighed Ohio State and Alabama and landed the Buckeyes, who didn’t fall far behind. An ugly loss for the Wolverines.

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The penultimate rankings for the 2022 match show how easy the committee has been deliberating, which should be able to avoid much, if any, in choosing this year’s field. Those teams that were about to enter a playoff game top the winners and losers on Tuesday night:

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The winners

Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Southern California

At least two from this quartet will make the playoffs regardless: Georgia and Michigan could lose on Saturday and still be relegated to the semifinals. Last weekend’s defeat of Iowamerged with No. 9 Clemson’s loss to No. 19 South Carolina, greatly raised the odds of TCU losing a rematch against No. 10 Kansas State and finishing in the top four. The only such group that doesn’t have that kind of safety net is USC, but even the Trojans have room for error on their way to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Ohio State

The only debate that mattered before Tuesday’s release was whether Ohio State or Alabama would land in the top five and be ready to fill the potential void should USC suffer a second loss to Utah. That they exploited this major ranking doesn’t mean the Buckeyes are a lock for fourth place should the Trojans lose; Even with a loss, USC can keep OSU at bay with a resume deeper in wins and a better performance against a combined opponent at No. 21 Notre Dame. But these penultimate rankings strongly suggest that only five teams have a chance of playing in the semifinals — and the Buckeyes are the fifth and final team in the conversation.

The American

As expected, both teams were seeded into the American Championship game by the panel: Tulane 18th next beating Cincinnati and Central Florida at No. 22 yet Win an emotional rivalry against South Florida. This ensured that Saturday’s winner would be offered access to the New Year’s Six as the best team in the group of five, fending off a challenge by Sun Belt members Troy and Coastal Carolina.

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losers

Alabama

Coming in behind Ohio State officially ends No. 6 Alabama’s chances of making the playoffs, given there is no plausible plausible scenario that could unfold this weekend and open up two spots in the four-team field. Sentenced by narrow losses to No. 7 Tennessee and LSU, a win in just one of those games would give the Crimson Tide the SEC West crown and a spot in the conference championship game. As the 11-1 winner of the West, Alabama had already entered Saturday in the top four and was able to secure a playoff berth with a win over the Bulldogs or through USC’s loss to the Utes.

Opinion: Is Alabama’s record 10 wins unbreakable? Only one school can challenge.

The ACC

With four teams in the playoffs but two teams at the back end — No. 23 North Carolina and No. 25 North Carolina State — and no team higher than No. 9, the ACC is bringing up the rear among the Power Five. The SEC has six teams in the top 25, including three teams in the top seven. The committee ranked six Pac-12 teams, all of them in the top 17. The Big Ten features three ranked teams, all in the top eight: Michigan, OSU, and No. 8 Penn State. And while the Big 12 also has only three teams in the top 25, two teams finish in the top 10 at TCU and Kansas State.