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College Football Playoff Rankings and Reactions: Top 4 Stay the Same; Alabama Holds at No. 5

College Football Playoff Ranking and Reactions: Top 4 Stay the Same; Alabama Holds at No. 5

College Football Playoff Ranking and Reactions: Top 4 Stay the Same; Alabama Holds at No. 5

The College Football Playoff selection committee released its third rankings of the 2019 season on Tuesday night, and — as expected — there were no changes at the top.

Some wondered if Alabama, without star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, would drop a spot or two, but the Crimson Tide held on to the fifth spot. Now, Nick Saban’s club must prove it can be dominant with Mac Jones at quarterback.

Minnesota dropped two spots, from No. 8 to No. 10, after its loss at Iowa. This was notable because the Golden Gophers dropped below Penn State, which they beat in Minneapolis two weeks ago. The committee obviously believes that Penn State has the better resume, and that was enough to overcome the head-to-head loss.

Athlon Sports editors Mitch Light, Steven Lassan, and Braden Gall will offer their initial reaction to the rankings every week.

Athlon Sports Reacts

Mitch Light: The top four of the latest College Football Playoff rankings remained the same, but I wouldn’t have been shocked if the committee dropped LSU from the top spot. The Tigers have been very, very impressive — and they have that great win at Alabama — but they are not a dominant defensive team. I wonder how many in that committee room gave serious thought to putting Ohio State, or even Clemson, at No. 1.

I am fine with Penn State being ahead of Minnesota after Minnesota’s loss at Iowa. The Nittany Lions will have an opportunity to make a major statement this weekend in Columbus. It is interesting that Oklahoma jumped only one spot after its win at previously unbeaten Baylor — but maybe not surprising when you consider that the committee previously had Baylor ranked 13th despite its perfect record.

Auburn is no longer in the hunt for a playoff spot, but I did find it interesting that the Tigers dropped three spots with a one-score loss to the No. 4 team in the nation. That’s tough.

Steven Lassan: How the committee viewed Alabama following the injury to Tua Tagovailoa and the other one-loss teams inside of the top 10 were my biggest areas of intrigue on Tuesday night.

A lot can happen with three weeks left in the season, but the race to be the No. 4 team might be one of the toughest decisions the committee has faced since the new playoff structure started in 2014. If Georgia wins out and beats LSU in the SEC Championship Game, the committee should have an easy path (assuming Clemson and Ohio State win out) to determine the top four. But if the Bulldogs lose, choosing between the winner of Utah/Oregon, Oklahoma and a one-loss Alabama isn’t going to be easy. The Crimson Tide essentially have one data point remaining with the road trip to Auburn on Nov. 30. Nick Saban’s team will need to be impressive to meet the standard of being unequivocally better than a conference champion to reach the CFB Playoff. That’s a high bar to clear without Tagovailoa.

I’m surprised the committee only bumped the Sooners up one spot after beating Baylor on Saturday night. Oklahoma now has two wins over top 25 teams, while Oregon has one and Utah has zero. The Sooners certainly aren’t out of the mix, but it does seem Lincoln Riley’s squad is going to need more help than I anticipated after Saturday’s win.

Braden Gall: There were no real surprises at all in the rankings ... again. The top four seem pretty clear, and while I would have Clemson at No. 2, I have no issue with the committee's rankings. Where I do take issue with the rankings is the “second tier.” The Oklahoma Sooners just went on the road and beat an unbeaten top-15 team while not allowing a point in the second half without their best playmaker and moved up one spot? If you want to make the case that Utah and Oregon have been more complete all year, that is fine, but don’t tell me it’s based on resume — the Utes and Ducks have a combined one win over top-25 teams (which is, admittedly, a fairly arbitrary metric, but you get the point).

Alabama is still getting tons of love from the CFP, but a path into the playoff seems difficult to trace as most teams behind the Tide will continue to add build their resumes. Lastly, Penn State over Minnesota: I actually get it. The Nittany Lions are far more talented and have played a dramatically better schedule with significantly better wins. So does the close head-to-head home win outweigh the other nine games they’ve both played? It appears not; however, this will work itself out this weekend.

When is the College Football Playoff?

The national semifinals will be played on Dec. 28, 2019, followed by the national championship game on Jan. 13, 2020.

Where is the College Football Playoff?

One national semifinal will be played at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. The other is at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

Week 13 College Football Playoff Rankings

1. LSU, 10-0

2. Ohio State, 10-0

3. Clemson, 10-0

4. Georgia, 9-1

5. Alabama, 9-1

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6. Oregon 9-1

7. Utah, 9-1

8. Penn State, 9-1

9. Oklahoma, 9-1

10. Minnesota, 9-1

11. Florida, 9-2

12. Wisconsin, 8-2

13. Michigan, 8-2

14. Baylor, 9-1

15. Auburn, 7-3

16. Notre Dame, 8-2

17. Iowa, 7-3

18. Memphis, 9-1

19. Cincinnati, 9-1

20. Boise State, 9-1

21. Oklahoma State, 7-3

22. Iowa State, 6-4

23. USC, 7-4

24. Appalachian State, 9-1

25. SMU, 9-1