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College Football Playoff rankings prediction: Does Ohio State fall behind Oregon?

The stiffest debate in this season's penultimate College Football Playoff rankings will be over where to place a pair of one-loss teams in Ohio State and Oregon.

The Buckeyes should drop four spots to No. 6 after losing to Michigan for the third year in a row, falling behind the Ducks but staying ahead of Texas and Alabama. Oregon could come in as high as No. 4 despite the one loss and be ahead of unbeaten Florida State.

In the end, though, where Ohio State and Oregon rank on Tuesday night is immaterial.

The Buckeyes have a convoluted path to the playoff requiring a specific mix of five results this weekend, including upsets in the Big 12 and ACC. Oregon can only focus on avenging this year's regular-season loss to Washington and putting together the best résumé for the playoff selection committee. The Ducks are very likely in the field at 12-1 as long as Georgia beats Alabama in the SEC championship game.

We're just days away from the finish of the regular season. Here's where the committee will land in the second-to-last rankings of the year:

1. Georgia (12-0)

That there are still eight teams in the playoff mix with one week left to go could lead to a remarkable scenario: Two-time defending national champion Georgia left outside the top four after losing on a neutral field to the Crimson Tide. Given the expected results in other Power Five championship games, it's very possible that this is how things unfold should the Bulldogs come up just short of another perfect regular season.

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2. Michigan (12-0)

The hard part is done for Michigan, which scored single-possession wins against Penn State and Ohio State in November to earn a matchup with Iowa in the Big Ten championship game. While elite on defense, the Hawkeyes' offensive woes make it unlikely the Wolverines suffer the sort of upset that would bring total chaos to the final rankings.

3. Washington (12-0)

Washington moves up one spot after becoming the first team to go 12-0 in the 12-team Pac-12 era. (Better late than never.) Up next is Friday's winner-take-all rematch with Oregon. The Huskies didn't exactly cruise to an unbeaten record, with the past eight games decided by a grand total of 49 points with no game won by more than 10 points.

4. Florida State (12-0)

The committee can move Oregon ahead of Florida State based on the answer to this question: Who would win on a neutral field? But the Seminoles have the best win of the two (LSU) and another win (Clemson) against a team slated to be in Tuesday night's rankings. Couple that with the Seminoles' unbeaten record and there's really no reason for the committee to move the Ducks into the top four barring the desire for unnecessary drama.

5. Oregon (11-1)

Oregon will score a ranked win via last weekend's 31-7 handling of Oregon State. The Ducks might get a second such win through Utah, though the Utes probably won't crack the Top 25 with so few openings on the back end of the rankings. Looking at things today, Oregon has one guaranteed ranked win to Florida State's two and four wins against Power Five bowl teams to the Seminoles' seven.

6. Ohio State (11-1)

The Buckeyes need a borderline miracle to land in the playoff. The likely postseason destination is the Orange Bowl against Louisville, should the Cardinals lose to FSU and the Seminoles finish in the top four.

Ohio State wide receiver Emeka Egbuka (2) and wide receiver Xavier Johnson (0) walk off the field during the team's loss to Michigan at Michigan Stadium.
Ohio State wide receiver Emeka Egbuka (2) and wide receiver Xavier Johnson (0) walk off the field during the team's loss to Michigan at Michigan Stadium.

7. Texas (11-1)

Texas can wrap up the Big 12 crown with a win against Oklahoma State and then start scoreboard watching. With Michigan heavily favored to beat Iowa, the best scenario for the Longhorns involves Oregon beating Washington, Louisville topping Florida State and Alabama getting past Georgia. The last one is especially meaningful: Alabama can't get in the playoff without UT getting in the playoff due to this year's non-conference win in Tuscaloosa.

8. Alabama (11-1)

No team in the history of the playoff format has moved into the four four from this far back with one week left in the regular season. But the roadmap is crystal clear for the Crimson Tide, who are in with a win against the Bulldogs but in a New Year's Six bowl with a loss.

9. Missouri (10-2)

Missouri closed a breakthrough regular season under coach Eli Drinkwitz with a 48-14 laugher against Arkansas, likely sealing the deal for a New Year's Six bid and giving the SEC three teams in the major bowls. Mississippi is also an option thanks to two strong wins against Tulane and LSU. The latter win against is important to keep in mind since Missouri lost a shootout to the Tigers in early October.

10. Penn State (10-2)

This has been a solid if somewhat predictable year for Penn State, which scored 10 wins by an average of 32.6 points per game but suffered single-digit losses to Michigan and Ohio State. While not the conference-championship type season some expected, the Nittany Lions will still reach a New Year's Six bowl for the fifth time under James Franklin.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College Football Playoff rankings prediction: Ohio State, Oregon at 5?