College Football Playoff rankings: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan in top four

There was little drama at the top of the second College Football Playoff ranking when it was released Tuesday. 

The three remaining unbeatens among the Power Five schools took the top three spots with Alabama at No. 1 followed by Clemson and Notre Dame. The Irish were the lone to team among the group to change positions after being fourth in the initial ranking.

The only significant question at the top was which team would replace LSU in the top four after the Tigers, who were ranked third last week, fell Saturday to the Crimson Tide.

Michigan, No. 5 last week, looked poised to move up with the Wolverines fresh off three impressive victories as part of an eight-game winning streak since their opening loss to Notre Dame. Georgia was another possibility after the Bulldogs went on the road and beat Kentucky, ranked No. 9 last week.

In the end, the honor went to Michigan, with Georgia also rising one place to fifth. Oklahoma, LSU and Washington State occupied sixth through eighth, respectively, and remained within striking distance.

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The big winner Tuesday was West Virginia. The Mountaineers moved into the top 10 by jumping four positions to No. 9 following its stirring defeat on the road against Texas. Ohio State stayed put in 10th after a mediocre performance against Nebraska.

The news was not as good for Central Florida, the lone unbeaten not in a Power Five conference. The Knights maintained their place at No. 12 after improving its winning streak to 21 games by beating Temple. Their prognosis for making the field would appear to be slim unless there is several surprising results among the contenders. 

While there was one change among the top four this week, it’s possible there is little change ahead with four weeks left in the season. Alabama and Clemson have appeared dominant in their conferences, and games against No. 16 Mississippi State and No. 17 Boston College don’t appear to be too threatening. The Crimson Tide only have one other ranked team left on the schedule, No. 24 Auburn. The Tigers don’t play another ranked team and likely won’t have a tough opponent in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Notre Dame must face No. 13 Syracuse in two weeks, but that will be the only game against a ranked opponent in the Irish’s final three games. Michigan’s biggest test likely will come against Ohio State on Nov. 24.

The top four teams in final rankings on Dec. 2 will play in the semifinals. Those two games will be at in the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29. The championship game will be played on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California, at Levi’s Stadium.

College Football Playoff committee Top 25

1. Alabama (9-0)
2. Clemson (9-0)
3. Notre Dame (9-0)
4. Michigan (8-1)
5. Georgia (8-1)
6. Oklahoma (8-1)
7. LSU (7-2)
8. Washington State (8-1)
9. West Virginia (7-1) 
10. Ohio State (8-1) 
11. Kentucky (7-2)
12. Central Florida (8-0)
13. Syracuse (7-2)
14. North Carolina State (6-2)
15. Florida (6-3)
16. Mississippi State (6-3)
17. Boston College (7-2)
18. Michigan State (6-3)
19. Texas (6-3) 
20. Penn State (6-3)
21. Iowa (6-3)
22. Iowa State (5-3)
23. Fresno State (8-1)
24. Auburn (6-3)
25. Washington (7-3)


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