The College Football Playoff committee released its fourth rankings of the 2019 season on Tuesday night, and there was a change at the top as Ohio State replaced LSU as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation.
Baylor was the biggest mover of the week; the Bears jumped from No. 14 to No. 9 after beating Texas at home. Oregon took the biggest tumble, falling from No. 6 to No. 14 after its damaging loss at Arizona State. Virginia Tech was the only new entrant, checking in at No 24 after recording its second straight shutout. SMU fell out of the rankings after its loss at Navy.
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: I was mildly surprised that Ohio State jumped LSU atop the rankings. I don’t have a problem with it — you can make a rational argument for either Ohio State, LSU or Clemson at No. 1 — but I didn’t expect the committee to "demote" LSU after a 36-point win (even if the opponent was Arkansas). The committee will point to Ohio State’s improving resume after the win over Penn State, but I believe LSU's best three wins (Florida, Auburn, at Alabama) are better than Ohio State's (Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Penn State).
It was a good week for the Big 12. Both Oklahoma and Baylor jumped two spots, and Oklahoma State (No. 21) and Iowa State (No. 23) remained in the rankings.
The Pac-12 took a hit last weekend with Oregon’s loss, but I still believe Utah can make the CFB Playoff if it wins out. The Utes will be lacking quality wins (Oregon in the Pac-12 title game would be by far its best), but this is a very good team that boasts arguably the best defense in the nation.
Steven Lassan: With two weeks of games left, there are three key remaining storylines that need to be settled: Which team ranks No. 1, who claims the No. 4 seed and which Group of 5 program gets into the New Year’s Six. After two weeks of the same top four, the committee flipped Ohio State and LSU at No. 1. The switch comes as no surprise after the Buckeyes matched the Tigers in Top 25 victories (three) by beating Penn State in Week 13. With the top three teams likely a step above the rest right now, getting the No. 1 seed is important to avoid Clemson and catch Alabama, Utah or Oklahoma (assuming Georgia loses in the SEC title game) in the semifinal.
For now, Utah appears to have the inside track to No. 4. However, if the committee views these teams as close, the Sooners (assuming they win out), would have two wins over a Baylor team ranked in the top 15 and probably another one or two Top 25 victories. That might be enough to pass the Utes in the final ranking. Alabama still has a chance at the No. 4 spot, but I’m not sure the committee can view this team as unequivocally better than Oklahoma or Utah without Tua Tagovailoa.
Memphis is in the driver’s seat to be the top Group of 5 program but still needs to beat Cincinnati to secure a spot in the AAC title game. If Mike Norvell’s team wins this week, a rematch against the Bearcats will be on tap next week. A win by the Tigers on Friday, followed by a Cincinnati victory next week could be a huge boost to Boise State’s hopes of ranking as the top Group of 5 team.
Braden Gall: The top four remain unchanged and are clearly above the next tier of teams. In fact, Ohio State and LSU might have already clinched a spot in the top four even with a loss to say, Michigan on the road or Georgia in the SEC title game. The far more interesting grouping of teams is Utah, Alabama and Oklahoma. All three have been dominant in spots, with Alabama being the most consistently dominant — plus it has by far the best loss of the bunch. But the Crimson Tide are a different team now without Tua Tagovailoa. Utah doesn’t have any Top 25 wins but has been balanced and dominant. Their loss to USC — the best team on the schedule thus far — holds them back even though Zack Moss didn’t play in that game. Oklahoma began the season crushing people but hasn't been nearly as strong since the schedule toughened, but the Sooners keep winning. Also, Minnesota at No. 8 and Baylor at No. 9 still both have an outside shot at the playoff should they keep winning.
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 14 College Football Playoff Rankings
1. Ohio State, 11-0
2. LSU, 11-0
3. Clemson, 11-0
4. Georgia, 10-1
5. Alabama, 10-1
6. Utah, 10-1
7. Oklahoma, 10-1
8. Minnesota, 10-1
9. Baylor, 10-1
10. Penn State, 9-2
11. Florida, 9-2
12. Wisconsin, 9-2
13. Michigan, 9-2
14. Oregon, 9-2
15. Auburn, 8-3
16. Notre Dame, 9-2
17. Iowa, 8-3
18. Memphis, 10-1
19. Cincinnati, 10-1
20. Boise State 10-1
21. Oklahoma State, 8-3
22. USC 8-4
23. Iowa State, 7-4
24. Virginia Tech, 8-3
25. Appalachian State, 10-1