College Football Playoff: Michigan moves to No. 2, Oklahoma State to No. 5 in penultimate rankings

·3 min read

Michigan is now at No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

The Wolverines moved up three spots from No. 5 in the penultimate rankings after beating Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes dropped from No. 2 to No. 7 after the loss. Georgia stayed at No. 1 while Alabama stayed at No. 3 after a four-overtime win over Auburn. Cincinnati is at No. 4 while Oklahoma State moved up two spots to No. 5 after beating Oklahoma. 

Notre Dame is at No. 6 after beating Stanford on Saturday and seeing head coach Brian Kelly depart for LSU on Monday night.

The top 10 is filled out by Ole Miss, Baylor and Oregon. 

What's at stake on championship Saturday

Each of the top five teams in the rankings play on Saturday in conference title games. No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 Alabama meet in the SEC title game. Georgia is 12-0 and seems a lock to make the playoff no matter what happens on Saturday. If Alabama wins, it's in the playoff. 

Michigan is in the playoff with a win over No. 13 Iowa in the Big Ten title game. Cincinnati is very likely in with a win over No. 21 Houston in the AAC title game. Oklahoma State could move into the top four with a win over No. 9 Baylor.

The easiest scenario for the committee is a Georgia win over Alabama while Michigan, Cincinnati and Oklahoma State win. That would drop the Crimson Tide out of the top four and move Cincy and OSU up a spot. 

Notre Dame is ready to pounce at No. 6 if two of the teams other than Georgia above it lose on Saturday. The Irish are done with their season at 11-1 and have blown out their last two opponents. Wins by Georgia and Baylor could push the Fighting Irish up to No. 4. 

If things get really haywire on Saturday, the committee will have a conundrum on its hands. Wins by Iowa and Baylor would mean those two teams finish the season at 11-2 along with Michigan and Oklahoma State. A Cincinnati loss would drop the Bearcats from the playoff conversation entirely. 

How would Iowa and Baylor stack up in the rankings against their higher-ranked opponents if they come away with conference titles? If you want chaos ahead of Sunday's final rankings, you're rooting for Georgia, Iowa, Houston and Baylor.

How does the committee view Notre Dame without Brian Kelly?

Notre Dame is in uncharted playoff territory. No team in playoff contention has seen its coach leave for another job before the final rankings. If Notre Dame has the chance to jump into the top four based on the outcome of Saturday's games, will the playoff committee view Notre Dame differently because it doesn't have its head coach?

"This week it didn't apply because the games had occurred and we evaluated based on those games," Iowa athletic director and committee chair Gary Barta said on ESPN. "Once the championship games wrap up ... the protocol does include the ability for the committee to consider a player or a coach not being available. Should that have an effect on the outcome of a game, that can be considered. At this point, we'll have to wait and see how that factors in."

CFP rankings

1. Georgia (12-0)

2. Michigan (11-1)

3. Alabama (11-1)

4. Cincinnati (12-0)

5. Oklahoma State (11-1)

6. Notre Dame (11-1)

7. Ohio State (10-2)

8. Ole Miss (10-2)

9. Baylor (10-2)

10. Oregon (10-2)

11. Michigan State (10-2)

12. BYU (10-2)

13. Iowa (10-2)

14. Oklahoma (10-2)

15. Pitt (10-2)

16. Wake Forest (10-2)

17. Utah (9-3)

18. NC State (9-3)

19. San Diego State (11-1)

20. Clemson (9-3)

21. Houston (11-1)

22. Arkansas (8-4)

23. Kentucky (9-3)

24. Louisiana (11-1)

25. Texas A&M (8-4)

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