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College Football Playoff Top 25 Takeaways: Key Stretch for USC and Clemson Still a Factor?

Lincoln Riley, USC Trojans Football

Lincoln Riley's USC Trojans have a potential path to making the College Football Playoff.

The third rankings from the College Football Playoff selection committee were released on Tuesday night. Georgia took the top spot, followed by Ohio State at No. 2 and Michigan and TCU in the next two places.

What are the key takeaways and things to know from the third top 25 on Nov. 15? Here's everything you need to know:

Top Takeaways from Nov. 15 Rankings

No Changes at the Top
Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and TCU were the committee's top four teams last week and remained in those spots after each program won last Saturday. The Horned Frogs had the most impressive win among the teams at the top by beating Texas in Austin, but the Bulldogs, Buckeyes and Wolverines all won comfortably.

USC is the Pac-12's Best Hope of a Playoff Team
The Pac-12's hopes of a playoff team suffered a setback when Arizona beat UCLA and Washington upset Oregon last Saturday. However, USC is still alive for the playoff at No. 7 and has an opportunity for a few marquee wins the rest of the way. The Trojans play at UCLA (No. 16) this Saturday and host Notre Dame (No. 18) to end the regular season. If USC beats UCLA this week, a trip to the Pac-12 title game would be within reach. And if the Trojans make it to Las Vegas, they would face another ranked opponent in the conference championship.

Pencil in the AAC Champ into a New Year's Six Bowl
Three teams from the AAC - UCF, Tulane and Cincinnati - were the only ranked Group of 5 programs in the top 25 for the Nov. 15 release. Although Coastal Carolina, Troy or UTSA could work their way into the rankings, the champion of the American Athletic Conference is likely to be the Group of 5 team that gets the spot in a New Year's Six bowl. UCF gets Navy and USF to close out the regular season, so coach Gus Malzahn's team has an inside track to the AAC title game. The Week 13 showdown between Tulane and Cincinnati is likely to decide the other spot in the conference championship.

Could Clemson Still Factor into the Playoff Mix?
Losing to Notre Dame dealt Clemson a serious setback for its hopes of a return to the CFB Playoff. But is there still a path for the Tigers? Coach Dabo Swinney's team has to play Miami this week, followed by the rivalry matchup versus South Carolina in Week 13. However, North Carolina - ranked No. 13 in the top 25 - looms in the ACC title game. Clemson needs a few breaks to go its way, but if the Tar Heels keep winning, it will have an opportunity to add (potentially) a top-10 win in the conference title game. And if some other chaos happens around them, the Tigers could factor back into the top four.

New Year's Six and Playoff Projections Using Top 25 From CFB Playoff Committee

Peach: Georgia vs. TCU
Fiesta: Ohio State vs. Michigan

Rose: USC vs. Penn State
Sugar: Tennessee vs. Kansas State
Cotton: Alabama vs. UCF
Orange: Clemson vs. LSU

Five Games in Week 12 That Will Impact the Rankings the Most for Next Week

1. USC at UCLA (8 p.m. ET)
2. Utah at Oregon (10:30 p.m. ET)
3. TCU at Baylor (Noon ET)
4. Illinois at Michigan (Noon ET)
5. Georgia at Kentucky (3:30 p.m. ET)

Full Top 25 from the CFB Playoff Selection Committee (Nov. 15)

1. Georgia (10-0)
2. Ohio State (10-0)
3. Michigan (10-0)
4. TCU (10-0)
5. Tennessee (9-1)
6. LSU (7-2)
7. USC (9-1)
8. Alabama (8-2)
9. Clemson (9-1)
10. Utah (8-2)
11. Penn State (8-2)
12. Oregon (8-2)
13. North Carolina (9-1)
14. Ole Miss (8-2)
15. Kansas State (7-3)
16. UCLA (8-2)
17. Washington (8-2)
18. Notre Dame (7-3)
19. Florida State (7-3)
20. UCF (8-2)
21. Tulane (8-2)
22. Oklahoma State (7-3)
23. Oregon State (7-3)
24. NC State (7-3)
25. Cincinnati (8-2)