College Football Playoff prediction: Will Georgia jump Ohio State?

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The third College Football Playoff rankings of the 2023 season will be defined by two debates inside the top four.

That starts at No. 1, with another comparison between Ohio State and Georgia. The Buckeyes’ offense was on a roll in a 38-6 laugher against Michigan State, cracking the 500-yard mark for the second time this season and the first time against Power Five competition. Georgia made an enormous statement with a 52-17 destruction of Mississippi.

While able to stay on top a week ago, Ohio State will be hurt by Penn State’s loss to Michigan, the Nittany Lions’ second on the season. The playoff selection committee has an obvious argument for swapping the Buckeyes and Bulldogs.

And then at No. 4, the playoff will again weigh Florida State and Washington in a comparison that ‘can’t get much closer,’ committee chair Boo Corrigan said last week. Neither team looked dominant on Saturday − the Seminoles beat Miami 27-20 and the Huskies topped Utah 35-28 − but the committee will look kindly on the win against the Utes, who should stay in the rankings despite a third loss.

Here’s how this week’s top 10 should look:

1. Georgia (10-0)

Wins against Missouri and Mississippi the past two weeks give Georgia the résumé for No. 1. Isn’t that what the committee has been waiting for? There would’ve been an argument for keeping Ohio State at the top had the Bulldogs struggled with the Rebels, but not after a 35-point beatdown. Georgia is likely to stay at No. 1 with a win against Alabama in the SEC championship game.

2. Ohio State (10-0)

That OSU looked like a No. 1 team against Michigan State will give the committee something to think about. But the Penn State win has been slightly devalued, as has the non-conference victory against Notre Dame. A recent win against Wisconsin has also taken a hit after the Badgers dropped two in a row to Indiana and Northwestern.

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3. Michigan (10-0)

Michigan bottled up Penn State and will be locked into the top three. While not enough to justify being moved ahead of OSU, the committee will love the way UM controlled the Nittany Lions with a powerful running game and suffocating defense. Once again, however, how the group views Jim Harbaugh’s suspension and the ongoing sign-stealing scandal is the biggest storyline heading into Tuesday night’s rankings. Could the committee even reward the Wolverines for winning on the road without Harbaugh? That may be a stretch.

4. Florida State (10-0)

Miami may have drifted toward mediocrity after a strong start but Saturday’s win was still Florida State’s seventh against a Power Five opponent with a non-losing record. This depth is something to keep in mind when comparing résumés between the Seminoles and Washington.

5. Washington (10-0)

Utah gives the Huskies three wins against ranked teams; one, against Oregon, has been viewed by the committee as the best win by any team this season. But there’s a lack of game control to consider: UW hasn’t won a game by more than 10 points since romping past California on Sept. 23. When taking into account the wishy-washy praise the committee has given the Huskies these past few weeks, the win against Utah might not be enough to warrant a leapfrog ahead of FSU.

6. Oregon (9-1)

Oregon didn’t blow the doors off Southern California but did manage to lock down a win against a Power Five bowl team. That’s just the Ducks’ second such win, with the chance to add a third from September’s non-conference victory against Texas Tech and a fourth in the rivalry game against Oregon State to end this month. That the résumé is a little flimsy shouldn’t be an issue this week and might not be an issue down the road given the committee’s obvious respect for the Ducks and the chance to add a marquee win against the Huskies in the Pac-12 championship game.

7. Texas (9-1)

With Quinn Ewers back under center, Texas seemed on the way to a blowout win against TCU before the Horned Frogs charged back in the second half, turning a 26-7 halftime score into a 29-26 final. That’s the second game in a row and the fourth in five games to be decided by a possession, and you begin to wonder if these close calls will eventually impact the committee’s view of the Longhorns. But then you remember that Texas beat Alabama on the road a few months back; that’s the type of result that lingers with the committee.

8. Alabama (9-1)

Alabama will remain hamstrung by that loss to Texas in September, though every week shows how far the Crimson Tide have come in the past two months. While the Longhorns were struggling to stave off the Horned Frogs’ upset efforts, the Tide scored 21 points in the first quarter and rolled to a 49-21 win against Kentucky. Still, while Alabama’s torrid run has definitely given the committee something to think about, the group would be very hesitant to ignore the head-to-head result.

9. Louisville (9-1)

There’s a mile or so of space separating Louisville from the top eight. The Cardinals land at No. 9 almost by default as the only other one-loss team in the Power Five, though they might climb toward the top four by capping the regular season with wins against Miami, Kentucky and FSU. Louisville could end November with eight wins against Power Five bowl teams, though, so it’s not like the postseason résumé would be bare for a team that has vastly exceeded expectations.

10. Missouri (8-2)

Oregon State was No. 12 in last week’s rankings and then creamed Stanford, but the Beavers’ overall body of work is lacking. OSU has two wins against teams currently with a winning record (Utah and Colorado) and four of the Beavers’ five conference wins have come against teams in the bottom half of the Pac-12 standings. Missouri will have two wins against teams in the playoff rankings after dismantling Tennessee along with what has become a nice non-conference victory against Memphis. That gives the Tigers the edge.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY