Skip to main content

College Football Playoff Top 25 Takeaways: Top Four Remains the Same, USC Rising and Clemson Lurking

There was no change at the top of the latest playoff rankings but plenty of movement after that.
Caleb Williams, USC Trojans Football

Caleb Williams and USC are right outside of the top four of the latest College Football Playoff rankings and the Trojans still have two more shots to improve their resume and impress the selection committee.

The fourth 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 fourth top 25 that was unveiled on Nov. 22? Here's everything you need to know:

Top Takeaways from Nov. 22 Rankings

The Top Four Remain the Same
Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and TCU were the committee's top four teams for the last two weeks and remained in those spots after Week 12. All four of those teams survived tough road tests last Saturday, with the Wolverines and Horned Frogs pushed until the final seconds. However, that top four is likely to look a bit different by this time next week with Michigan-Ohio State looming on Saturday. The Wolverines and Buckeyes could both make the playoff, but the Buckeyes might have a stronger case as a one-loss team with a non-conference win over Notre Dame. A close game increases the odds the Big Ten could get two teams into the playoff, but the conference also needs USC or TCU to stumble before the final rankings. In other words, expect the top four to look a little different by next week (and in the final rankings).

USC in the Driver's Seat for a Trip to the CFB Playoff
USC has a tough path remaining with a home date against Notre Dame, followed by a matchup in the Pac-12 Championship Game. However, if the Trojans win those two games, coach Lincoln Riley's squad is likely to make the playoff. In that scenario, USC would be 12-1 and have a conference championship. It's tough to see the selection committee leaving the Trojans out if that's the final resume.

Clemson is Lurking
Clemson's playoff hopes aren't dead yet. The Tigers ranked No. 8 in the Nov. 22 rankings release and will play South Carolina this Saturday, followed by a test against North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game. Clemson needs help at No. 8 to get into the four-team playoff. However, USC still has obstacles to navigate, the loser of Michigan-Ohio State could drop behind Clemson, and LSU still has to face Georgia in the SEC title game. The ACC's Tigers are lurking, but coach Dabo Swinney's team won't get in without some assistance.

Notre Dame Remains a Factor in the New Year's Six Bowl Mix
Despite puzzling losses to Marshall and Stanford, Notre Dame isn't out of the mix to play in a New Year's Six bowl. The Fighting Irish jumped to No. 15 this week after a victory over Boston College. If coach Marcus Freeman's team can knock off USC this Saturday, an invite to a New Year's Six bowl is within reach.

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: LSU vs. Kansas State
Cotton: Oregon vs. Tulane
Orange: Clemson vs. Alabama

Five Games in Week 13 That Will Impact the Rankings the Most for Next Week

1. Michigan at Ohio State (Noon ET)
2. Notre Dame at USC (7:30 p.m. ET)
3. Oregon at Oregon State (3:30 p.m. ET)
4. Tulane at Cincinnati (Friday at Noon ET)
5. Washington at Washington State (10:30 p.m. ET)

Full Top 25 from the CFB Playoff Selection Committee (Nov. 22)

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