Projected College Football Playoff rankings: LSU back at No. 1, Utah has edge over Big 12 champ

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 30: Tyler Huntley #1 of the Utah Utes breaks a tackle attempt by Mustafa Johnson #34 of the Colorado Buffaloes during the first half at Rice-Eccles Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 30: Tyler Huntley #1 of the Utah Utes breaks a tackle attempt by Mustafa Johnson #34 of the Colorado Buffaloes during the first half at Rice-Eccles Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /

Three teams have likely secured their College Football Playoff berth but the final spot comes down to Georgia, Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor.

The sun is setting on the college football regular season, which is definitely a sad sight. But for those excited about the College Football Playoff, the season has only just begun. As rivalry week came, the potential for upsets was there. That did come to fruition for a couple teams, and as is now a custom in this post, we will say our farewells.

America can finally say farewell to the Alabama Crimson Tide, who fell to Auburn in a spectacular Iron Bowl game, 48-45 because of special teams issues (stop me if you’ve heard that before). The Crimson Tide missed a field goal with just a couple minutes remaining and would have gotten the ball back if not for an illegal substitution before Auburn’s punt. 2019 will mark the first season without Alabama in the College Football Playoff.

We also bid farewell to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The outlook was exciting for the Gophers, as they were set to host the Badgers for Paul Bunyan’s Axe and then move on for a crack at Ohio State and a potential playoff spot. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and the Badgers crushed the Gophers 38-17.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top eight, with four true contenders left for that number four spot in the playoff.

1. LSU Tigers

After losing the No. 1 spot last week in part because the committee didn’t think they were a complete team, the LSU defense allowed 169 yards and seven points to Texas A&M. That is enough to move them back to the top spot. The LSU Tigers came out looking to avenge their 7OT loss to the Aggies and to prove to the playoff committee that they belong in the top spot. They achieved both of those goals in this game. It was a clinic from start to finish, as the Tigers ran away from the Aggies 50-7. Joe Burrow was efficient once again, throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for 87 yards and a score. Even if they lose to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, they’ll be the No. 4 seed at worst.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State was tested in the first and fourth quarters vs. Michigan but otherwise dominated The Game and capitalized on every Michigan miscue, winning 56-27. It was a blowout win, but allowing 27 points could be what the committee uses to justify moving Ohio State down one week after they knocked LSU for the same thing. Justin Fields threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns, while running back J.K. Dobbins totaled 260 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. The defense struggled early, but tightened their grip in the second half and made life difficult for the Wolverines. They get Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship next.

3. Clemson Tigers

The Clemson Tigers keep lighting teams up under the radar and may be the hottest team right now. They got off to a slow start against South Carolina but got it together with Trevor Lawrence (295 yards, three touchdowns) and Tee Higgins (101 yards, two touchdowns) leading the way. This game was basically a microcosm of their season. They beat the Gamecocks 38-3 and set up a date with Virginia in the ACC Championship Game. Clemson will be a massive favorite, but barring a shocking loss, they should still be a lock to make it.

4. Georgia Bulldogs

The Georgia Bulldogs have survived the SEC regular-season after that bad loss to South Carolina at home. Georgia didn’t slip vs. Georgia Tech behind 254 yards and four touchdowns from Jake Fromm in the 52-7 win. It was the type of dominant performance you’d expect from a playoff contender against one of the worst Power 5 teams in the nation. They will go into next week’s game against LSU without wide receiver George Pickens for the first half after he was ejected vs. Tech and potentially D’Andre Swift who left with a shoulder injury. Still, Georgia is in with a win.

5. Utah Utes

Utah is rooting for LSU to win the SEC Championship Game. If Georgia loses and Utah wins the Pac-12 Championship Game against Oregon, they should be the team to get the No. 4 seed. It’s hard to imagine that not being the case since the committee has consistently put them ahead of Oklahoma. The Utes took care of business, beating the Colorado Buffaloes 45-15. The defense was especially dominant in this one, holding Steven Montez to just 157 yards passing and consistently creating short fields for their offense. Their special teams even contributed with a return touchdown.

6. Oklahoma Sooners

The Oklahoma Sooners had had a long road back after their loss at Kansas State earlier in the season, but they are a win against Baylor from potentially getting in. The Sooners defeated the rival Oklahoma State Cowboys 34-16 behind solid defense and a strong running game. Oklahoma did a good job bottling up Chuba Hubbard in the second half, and Kennedy Brooks led the way for the Sooners offense, carrying the ball 22 times for 160 yards and a score. The biggest question facing the committee is what to do with Utah and the Big 12 champion if Georgia loses.

7. Baylor Bears

The Baylor Bears have responded well in recent weeks after they blew the 28-3 lead to the Sooners. They eviscerated the Kansas Jayhawks today 61-6. The Bears ran for 263 yards and seven touchdowns on the day, while quarterback Charlie Brewer threw for two more. The College Football Playoff dream is alive. They’ll have a chance to avenge blowing a 28-3 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game. They might need a blowout win and Utah to lose to get in, but they have a chance, which is something few could have imagined a few months ago.

8. Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama probably will find itself in the eighth spot because the committee loves them, but they are effectively eliminated with their second loss. It will be weird to see the Tide not in the playoff, and it feels like robbery that we didn’t see them in with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback.

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