Welp. Alabama is going to be the No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff. After falling behind 7-0 to Florida and giving America a brief head-scratch moment, the Tide did what they've been doing most of the season — dominated. It was 54-9 'Bama the rest of the way, as Nick Saban's squad finished their regular season as undefeated SEC champions and cemented their case to be the committee's top-ranked team on Sunday.
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No. 2 Ohio State (bye)
The Buckeyes appear to be in the driver’s seat for a College Football Playoff berth as they sit back and watch championship weekend unfold. But let’s say Penn State does what the Buckeyes did a few years ago – and crushes Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. Would it be enough to knock Ohio State out of the final four? It’s doubtful, but you just never know.
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No. 23 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Clemson (ACC Championship Game, Orlando, FL)
Clemson got the job done ... barely. The Tigers started fast, racing to a 14-0 lead over Virginia Tech in Saturday's ACC championship game, but the Hokies were pesky. Deshaun Watson's crew ultimately prevailed 42-35, likely securing themselves a spot in the playoff field.
This was Washington's last chance to make an impression on the selection committee and man, did they do it in style, with a 41-10 victory over Colorado. The Huskies ground attack led the way with 265 yards in the win, making up for a less than stellar day from quarterback Jake Browning. The win should have been enough to clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff, but we will have to wait until Sunday to find out officially.
No. 5 Michigan (bye)
Like Ohio State, Michigan is off this weekend. Unlike the Buckeyes, Jim Harbaugh’s club will need help to get into the playoff. At this point, it might take something catastrophic – like Clemson and Washington both losing – for Michigan to get in.
No. 7 Penn State vs. No. 6 Wisconsin (Big Ten Championship Game, Indianapolis, IN)
What a game. After Wisconsin surged to a 28-7 lead, Penn State — a good second-half team all year — stormed back to score 31 of the game's final 34 points and win it 38-31. Will it be enough for the committee to put them in the playoff? The great debate will be whether the 11-2 Big Ten champs deserve a spot over 11-1 Ohio State, whom they beat during the regular season and didn't win the conference.
No. 10 Oklahoma State at No. 9 Oklahoma
Oklahoma took care of business in the Bedlam game, bouncing back from a slow start to win 38-20 over in-state rival Oklahoma State and clinch the Big 12 title. It will almost certainly not be enough to get the two-loss Sooners in the playoff, though. Alabama and Washington are presumably in as 0- and 1-loss conference champions, 11-1 Ohio State is presumably ahead of Oklahoma due to their head-to-head win in Norman, and Clemson, Michigan and the Big Ten Championship Game winner all figure to have better resumes when all is said and done Saturday.
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No. 11 USC (bye)
The Trojans lost out on their shot at a Pac-12 title game appearance when Colorado beat Utah last week. But it was a season to remember for Clay Helton’s club. After a 1-3 start, USC won eight in a row to close the season and should head to a pretty solid bowl game this winter.
No. 12 Florida State (bye)
Florida State doesn’t play this weekend, but was a big winner when the College Football Playoff committee released their latest poll on Tuesday. The Seminoles moved past Louisville, and unless something changes this weekend – and with neither team playing, how could it? – they will be headed to the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30.
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No. 13 Louisville (bye)
The Cardinals lost two in a row to close the season (including falling to hated rival Kentucky last week), likely costing themselves a shot at the Orange Bowl. At 9-3, it was a year to remember for Bobby Petrino’s club. Especially, if, as many expect, Lamar Jackson ends up taking home the Heisman.
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No. 14 Auburn (bye)
Even after a loss last weekend, Auburn could be a big winner come bowl season. Assuming Florida loses, Gus Malzahn’s club is in line to earn a trip to the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.
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Baylor at No. 16 West Virginia
Trailing 14-3 in the second quarter, the Mountaineers rattled off 21 straight points on three touchdowns from quarterback Skyler Howard (two through the air, one on the ground) and then held on to beat the Bears 24-21. The win puts West Virginia at 10-2 on the season, 7-2 in the Big 12. That's third place behind Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
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MAC Championship: No. 17 Western Michigan 29, Ohio 23 (Friday)
It wasn't always pretty, but the Broncos did just enough to hold on for a victory, finishing the season at 13-0 with a MAC Championship. With the victory now in hand, two major questions remain: Was it enough for Western to clinch a Cotton Bowl bid as the Group of Five representative? And will they be able to keep head coach P.J. Fleck, who will almost certainly be hearing from bigger schools like Oregon and maybe even Purdue in the coming days.
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No. 18 Stanford (bye)
David Shaw’s club finished its season and quietly played well down the stretch, winning its final five games. The only question is whether Christian McCaffrey will get another trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony, after finishing seventh in the country in rushing yards.
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Temple vs. No. 19 Navy (AAC Championship Game)
You can forget about Navy being the highest-ranked Group of Five team. The Midshipmen were thoroughly dominated, 34-10, by a rising Temple squad. The Owls jumped out to a 21-0 lead, then closed with a strong fourth quarter to seal the deal. There was some thought that a Navy win Saturday would force the committee to wait for the result of next week's Army-Navy game to determine whether Navy or Western Michigan would be the Group of Five representative in the Cotton Bowl. Now, there's no doubt — the Broncos are off to Dallas.
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No. 20 Utah (bye)
After two straight losses, it’s a surprise the Utes are still in the Top 25. They will now sit and wait for their bowl destination, after a respectable 8-4 regular season.
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No. 21 LSU (bye)
The big story came last Saturday when Ed Orgeron was named the Tigers' full-time head coach. Coach O and the Tigers will return to the field during bowl season, before he leads them out of the tunnel to start the 2017 season. What a surprising, yet spectacular story.
No. 22 Tennessee (bye)
In the neither “surprising” nor “spectacular” categories are the Tennessee Vols, who botched a trip to the Sugar Bowl by losing to Vanderbilt last week. It’s also turned up the furnace quite a bit on coach Butch Jones. With a boatload of talent graduating off this year’s roster, things aren’t looking good heading into 2017. And it might eventually cost him his job.
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No. 24 Houston (bye)
The Cougars ended the season last Friday, then lost their coach a day later. With Tom Herman gone, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando will serve as interim head coach during bowl season. It seems unlikely that he’ll get the full-time gig, though, with reports surfacing that Cougars brass are interested in both Les Miles and Lane Kiffin to fill the spot.
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No. 25 Pittsburgh (bye)
Pitt entered the Top 25 for the first time this week … just in time to sit back, relax and watch this weekend’s conference championship game. Still, the Panthers own a pair of Top 10 victories this season, against No. 3 Clemson and No. 7 Penn State.