Texas, Georgia lead playoff ranking winners and losers

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For two weeks, the College Football Playoff selection committee had ranked Ohio State No. 1 on the back of the Buckeyes’ two wins against Notre Dame and Penn State.

That was enough to keep Ohio State ahead of Georgia despite some closer-than-expected games in Big Ten play and a dip in offensive production. That decline was more than offset by the tangible growth of the Buckeyes’ defense, which ranks among the best in the Bowl Subdivision.

Eventually, though, the committee had to make the switch. There are two reasons: one, Georgia has added SEC wins to match and exceed Ohio State’s résumé, and two, the Bulldogs are starting to look like a team capable of winning an historic third national championship in a row.

Ohio State’s blowout on Saturday of three-win Michigan State did nothing to move the needle with the committee. But the group was definitely paying attention to Georgia’s 52-17 win against Mississippi, which saw the return of star tight end Brock Bowers and saw the Bulldogs take apart a team ranked No. 9 a week ago.

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So it’s Georgia No. 1, Ohio State No. 2. If both teams win out, that seems likely to last to the postseason.

These two teams lead the winners and losers from Tuesday night’s rankings:


Texas and the Big 12

The No. 7 Longhorns stayed ahead of Alabama as the committee continues, rightfully so, to place value on the head-to-head win back in September. There’s another positive sign from Tuesday’s release: Texas is one of five teams from the Big 12 in the rankings after No. 23 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Kansas hung around despite suffering their third losses on the season. Joining this threesome are No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 21 Kansas State. The league is getting the benefit of the doubt from the committee, and that’s something to highlight given the chance that Texas could be competing for the final spot in the playoff field with one or more contenders with one loss.


Missouri rose to No. 9 after a 36-7 win against Tennessee, moving ahead of one-loss Louisville amid one of the program’s most successful seasons in almost a decade. There’s plenty to like about the Tigers’ postseason résumé, which includes four SEC wins and a pair of very impressive non-conference victories against Kansas State and Memphis. But the committee is also drawn to a physical style of play that helped Missouri really battle Georgia earlier this month and nearly pull off the upset. At this spot in the rankings and with winnable games against Florida and Arkansas to end the year, the Tigers are in wonderful position to lock down an appearance in the New Year’s Six.

Penn State

Penn State dropped just two spots to No. 12 after losing 24-15 to Michigan, staying within the cut line for a New Year’s Six bowl despite losses to the only legitimate contenders on this year’s schedule. But that’s the reason for the slight drop: Penn State has pretty much torn through every team except the Buckeyes and Wolverines, and suffered single-digit losses despite being held in check in both games. The Nittany Lions close with Rutgers and Michigan State and should get into the New Year’s Six with a sweep of these last two games, depending on how things shake out at the top of the conference.



It’s not that the committee doesn’t like No. 5 Washington. They just don’t love the Huskies, that’s all, and that may end up being a problem down the line should they lose once this month but still capture the Pac-12 championship. The Huskies remain behind No. 4 Florida State and even No. 3 Michigan despite owning the best win in the FBS, per the committee, against No. 6 Oregon. They also have wins against No. 17 Arizona and No. 22 Utah and eight victories overall against the Power Five when adding in Michigan State in non-conference action. What the committee has mentioned already is the Huskies’ lack of game control, which admittedly does stand out. But Washington has the résumé to be in the top four and as high as No. 3.


With James Madison currently ineligible for the postseason the playoff rankings, Liberty is the only unbeaten team in the Group of Five. Despite the unblemished record, the unranked Flames are as of today only a borderline New Year’s Six bowl contender because they lack anything close to the résumé needed to reach a major bowl, with only three wins against teams with a winning record (Bowling Green, New Mexico State, Jacksonville State) and zero games against Power Five competition. With games against Massachusetts, Texas-El Paso and a rematch with New Mexico State to end the year, Liberty is also unlikely to put together the victories needed to rise ahead of the American champion, whether that’s No. 24 Tulane, SMU, Memphis or even Texas-San Antonio.

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