College Football Playoff rankings: Ohio State gets No. 1 spot, right to avoid Clemson in semi-final

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 23: Chris Olave #17 of the Ohio State Buckeyes makes the catch for a 28-yard touchdown pass over John Reid #29 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the fourth quarter at Ohio Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Penn State 28-17. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 23: Chris Olave #17 of the Ohio State Buckeyes makes the catch for a 28-yard touchdown pass over John Reid #29 of the Penn State Nittany Lions in the fourth quarter at Ohio Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Penn State 28-17. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

The College Football Playoff rankings will have intrigue about who gets the fourth spot but I’m more intrigued with who gets the top spot and can avoid playing Clemson in the semifinals.

Ohio State overtaking LSU for the No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings is more significant than who gets the fourth spot.

With the Big Three undefeated teams (Ohio State, LSU, Clemson) dominating heading into Week 14, much of the College Football Playoff conversation has centered around who will be the fourth and final team to get in. That is certainly a compelling storyline the next two weeks, what’s more, interesting is who gets the No. 1 seed on the final Sunday to avoid playing reigning national champion Clemson in the semifinals.

Clemson is entrenched in the No. 3 seed unless Ohio State or LSU lose, which I’m not predicting will happen. This team will be the best No. 3 seed in the history of the playoff and one neither Ohio State nor LSU will want to see. Of course, to win it all, you have to beat great teams, but you’d rather just beat one great team than two great teams if you can.

The other factor is the geographical advantage of LSU getting the top seed and picking the Peach Bowl to play in Atlanta. That is SEC Country and where their fans just were for the SEC Championship Game. They’ll travel well and have a home-field advantage over Utah or Oklahoma.

If Ohio State keeps the top seed and picks the Fiesta Bowl to play in Glendale, AZ, that would leave LSU and Clemson splitting the Peach Bowl crowd. The Tigers fans in South Carolina are much more likely to show up in Atlanta than Utah or Oklahoma fans in a potential matchup.

The biggest decision for the committee to consider will be if Ohio State beating Michigan and Minnesota is enough to keep LSU with their wins over Texas A&M and Georgia behind them. The Buckeyes would have the second and third-best wins in this scenario with LSU having the first and fourth. Maybe that’s how the committee will view it too?

I don’t think so. I think we’ll see Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Utah in the playoff.

With Rivalry Weekend and Championship Weekend ahead the next two weeks, there are nine playoff contenders, and this is what needs to happen for them to get in.

College Football Playoff rankings
TUCSON, AZ – NOVEMBER 23: Utah Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley (1) runs past Arizona Wildcats linebacker Anthony Pandy (8) during the first half of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

How Ohio State gets in: Similar to LSU, they have banked a lot of goodwill and just need to avoid losing to Michigan and then Wisconsin/Minnesota in the Big Ten Championship Game. Even with a split, they will be in.

How LSU gets in: The Tigers just have to avoid falling flat on their faces at the finish line. As long as they don’t lose to Texas A&M and then to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, they’re in.

How Clemson gets in: Don’t lose to South Carolina in the season finale and then beat Virginia/Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game. They can likely split and get in, but wouldn’t want to risk it.

How Georgia gets in: Beat Georgia Tech this weekend and then upset LSU in the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs have no margin for error but if they win out, they’re in.

How Alabama gets in: There’s hope for Alabama to continue their playoff streak but they need to rely on outside help to sneak in the fourth spot. Provided LSU, Ohio State and Clemson win out, Alabama’s most direct path to the playoff will need the Pac-12 champion to have two losses. So either Utah loses this week to Colorado or Oregon beats Utah in the Pac-12 title game. Alabama will need to root against Jalen Hurts when Oklahoma plays Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game. Then, they’ll need to root for LSU to beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. If all that happens, Alabama and LSU will likely have a rematch with the Peach Bowl in Atlanta serving as the site.

How Utah gets in: The Utes need to beat Colorado this weekend, and preferably with style points, and then Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game to have their best possible resume. But the Utes need some help. First, they need Georgia to lose to LSU so the SEC doesn’t get two teams in. Then, they need Ohio State to win out so the Big Ten doesn’t get two teams in. Next, they’ll need Oklahoma to lose once and Alabama losing to Auburn wouldn’t hurt their cause either. Kirk Herbstreit thinks the Utes will be in with this scenario.

How Oklahoma gets in: The Sooners need to get help too. Oklahoma needs to beat Oklahoma State in convincing fashion in Bedlam. Then, they need to blowout Baylor in the Big Ten Championship Game. Their win earlier this month didn’t give them a significant boost but if they get some help from Georgia and Utah losing, they will likely pass Alabama next week, regardless if the Tide beats Auburn.

How Minnesota gets in: A lot of prayers. The Gophers need to beat Wisconsin on Saturday, which would mark the first time since 1993-1994 they beat Wisconsin in back-to-back years. That will clinch their spot in the Big Ten Championship Game at which point they’d just need to knock off Ohio State. If Minnesota is a one-loss Big Ten champion with a win over OSU, they’ll definitely be in. It’s a daunting path, but for Minnesota, this is what you have to travel to get to the playoff.

How Baylor gets in: Anarchy. First, control your business and win the Big 12. Then, hope for all sorts of chaos and carnage. Auburn needs to beat Alabama, the Pac-12 champ needs to have two losses and Clemson likely needs to lose to South Carolina and then in the ACC Championship Game. Will even one of these things happen? I don’t know. Is this still the best season Baylor fans could have imagined before this season? Yes. But it’s more likely Baylor is playing in the Cotton Bowl against the highest-ranked Group of 5 team (Cincinnati, Memphis, Boise State, Navy) in Dallas, which is a pretty nice postseason game for the program that was 1-11 two years ago.

College Football Playoff rankings

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Clemson
4. Georgia
5. Alabama
6. Utah
7. Oklahoma
8. Minnesota
9. Baylor
10. Penn State
11. Florida
12. Wisconsin
13. Michigan
14. Oregon
15. Auburn
16. Notre Dame
17. Iowa
18. Memphis
19. Cincinnati
20. Boise State
21. Oklahoma State
22. USC
23. Iowa State
24. Virginia Tech
25. Appalachian State

Next. 50 best college football uniforms. dark

For more NCAA football news, analysis, opinion and unique coverage by FanSided, including Heisman Trophy and College Football Playoff rankings, be sure to bookmark these pages.