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One week later, there is only a slight change in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Alabama, Miami, Clemson and Oklahoma are still at the top of the rankings, but the Hurricanes and Tigers swapped spots. Miami is now at No. 2, while Clemson is No. 3.
The four teams at the top of the poll should not feel secure at this point. All of them have to go through major tests between now and the time the playoff teams are named.
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Alabama has a regular-season game to play against Auburn and an SEC championship game against Georgia. While the Crimson Tide will almost certainly have a spot in the playoffs even with a loss, Nick Saban wants his team to be in full confidence.
He says one of the keys to Alabama’s success is quarterback Jalen Hurts’ ability to hold onto the ball and avoid turnovers.
“That’s something we’ve really emphasized with our team and it’s something that Jalen is very conscious of and done a good job of,” Saban said, per Rainer Smith of AL.com. “He’s probably learned from his past experiences of taking care of the ball. So I think it’s critical and will continue to be critical.”
Miami and Clemson have a Dec. 2 showdown to decide the ACC title. While Miami would still have a shot at getting into the playoff if that’s the only loss on its record, there are no guarantees.
Oklahoma will likely overwhelm West Virginia Saturday, but the Sooners still have to play in the Big 12 title game. They’ll likely face TCU in that game, and the Sooners have already defeated the Horned Frogs 38-20 this season. However, TCU is a powerful team, and OU will likely need to be even better to beat them in a second meeting.
Wisconsin is on the outside looking in right now at the No. 5 spot, but the Badgers are undefeated through 10 games, with a regular-season finale against Minnesota looming this weekend.
Wisconsin should have no problem surviving that game, but they will receive a challenge in the Big Ten title game from Ohio State. The Buckeyes face 8-3 Michigan at The Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday and a win in that game puts Urban Meyer‘s team in the Big Ten title game.
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If Wisconsin remains undefeated through the conference title game, the Badgers will almost certainly have a place in the CFP.
Wisconsin has outscored its opponents 212-58 in the second half of games throughout the season, something that has given head coach Paul Chryst a strong feeling about his team.
“They certainly, all year, have played well,” Chryst said, per Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But I think that there’s a competitiveness in them and I think there’s a pride in it.
“They know that it’s all of them doing it. I think there’s a little bit of they want to make sure they’re doing their part individually. But collectively, certainly.”
Alabama will defeat Auburn in the regular-season finale and Georgia in the SEC championship game to hold onto the No. 1 seed.
Clemson will defeat Miami and will gain the No. 2 spot in the ACC championship game. Wisconsin will remain undefeated by beating Minnesota in the season finale and Ohio State in the Big Ten title game to move into the No. 3 spot.
Oklahoma will have no problem in its season finale against West Virginia and hang on to defeat TCU again. The Sooners will remain in the No. 4 spot.
That will set up the two semifinal playoff games, with Clemson facing Wisconsin, and Alabama taking on Oklahoma.