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College Football Playoff Rankings: Oklahoma State on the Rise, Status Quo at the Top and Other Takeaways

Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy

Mike Gundy's Oklahoma State Cowboys are now the top Big 12 team in the College Football Playoff Rankings

The College Football Playoff Committee released its third top 25 for the 2021 season on Tuesday night, and this week’s edition didn’t provide many changes at the top. Georgia, Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State retained the top four spots for the second week in a row, with Cincinnati remaining at No. 5 and Michigan at No. 6. None of the results from Week 11 changed the rankings or the mind of members on the committee, but a huge slate of games for Week 12 could provide a major shake-up to the top 25 next Tuesday.

With three weeks of games remaining, a lot can (and will) change in the world of college football. What are the biggest takeaways from the third release? Here are a couple of things of note:

Key Takeaways

Status Quo at the Top
If you wanted change in the rankings, this isn’t the top 25 for you. The CFB Playoff Selection Committee didn’t change its top seven from last week, and just one team (Wake Forest) joined the top 10. Considering last Saturday’s results, status quo was the right call by the committee – especially with several key games on tap for Week 12.

Oklahoma State Now the Highest-Ranked Big 12 Team
The CFB Playoff Committee seemed skeptical of Oklahoma (No. 8 last week) in the first two weeks of rankings, and those feelings were justified after Baylor’s win over the Sooners last Saturday. As a result, Oklahoma State is now the Big 12’s No. 1 team and best bet to make the CFB Playoff. The Cowboys already have a win over No. 11 Baylor and play Oklahoma on Nov. 27. It’s a longshot Oklahoma State can climb from No. 9 to the top four, but this team still has a ranked matchup ahead next Saturday, and (assuming the Cowboys make it), a top-25 team awaits in the Big 12 title game. In other words, Oklahoma State has opportunities to improve its resume over the next three weeks and still has an outside shot at the playoff.

Don’t Forget About Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish moved up one spot to No. 8 after a convincing win over Virginia on Saturday night. Coach Brian Kelly’s team doesn’t have marquee opponents left (Georgia Tech and Stanford), but an 11-1 Notre Dame squad has playoff hopes if there’s some other chaos in the top 10. Right now, it’s a longshot Kelly’s squad makes the CFB Playoff. But don’t count out the Fighting Irish just yet.

Good News for Cincinnati
The Bearcats held steady at No. 5 in this week’s rankings, but that wasn’t the only bit of good news for coach Luke Fickell’s team. Cincinnati isn’t the only team from the AAC in the rankings now, as Houston appeared at No. 24 on Tuesday night. The Cougars have already clinched a spot in the AAC title game, so Cincinnati – provided Houston beats Memphis and UConn – has a chance to get another quality win. Also, the Bearcats play two teams with winning records – SMU and East Carolina – over the next two weeks. Those are good showcase opportunities for a team fighting to be in the top four.

Quick Hitters

Teams Joining the Rankings: Houston, Mississippi State
Teams Dropping Out: Purdue, Auburn

NC State dropped four spots after losing to Wake Forest, while Texas A&M fell five spots after its loss to Ole Miss.

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Arkansas (four), Ole Miss (three), Iowa (three), and Wisconsin (three) were the big movers this week.

Top 25 CFB Playoff Rankings Third Release (Nov. 16)

1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Oregon
4. Ohio State
5. Cincinnati
6. Michigan
7. Michigan State
8. Notre Dame
9. Oklahoma State
10. Wake Forest
11. Baylor
12. Ole Miss
13. Oklahoma
14. BYU
15. Wisconsin
16. Texas A&M
17. Iowa
18. Pitt
19. San Diego State
20. NC State
21. Arkansas
22. UTSA
23. Utah
24. Houston
25. Mississippi State

Projected New Year’s Six Bowls

Using the CFB Playoff Committee’s rankings, this is how the New Year’s Six and CFB Playoff semifinals would look today:

Chick-fil-A Peach: Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest

Fiesta: Cincinnati vs. Michigan State

Rose: Michigan vs. Utah

Sugar: Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss

Projected CFB Playoff

Orange: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State

Cotton: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oregon