Clemson remains in position to make playoff; Louisville stumbles in CFP rankings

Tigers sit at No. 4 and Cardinals fall to 11th after loss to Houston in latest Top 25

It's status quo for Clemson in its bid to return to the College Football Playoff, while ACC rival Louisville paid a huge price for its stunning loss to Houston in Tuesday's release of the selection committee's latest rankings.

The Tigers remained fourth, behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan.

The Cardinals, fifth a week ago, slipped to 11th. Florida State is the only other ACC team in the Top 25 at 14.

There was the possibility that Clemson could have moved up given the Buckeyes' 17-16 victory over three-win Michigan State and the Wolverines' scare against Michigan. But the Tigers -- who have two wins over currently ranked teams in Louisville and Florida State -- saw their resume take a hit with the Cardinals' stumble.

"It did not change our positioning in the rankings or within the Selection Committee room about Ohio State," selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said of the Buckeyes' narrow win. "They're an extremely talented football team. The committee continues to be impressed with their three wins over current CFP top-25 teams.

"We were obviously aware of the conditions in which that game was played, but continue to be very impressed with Ohio State."

There was a similar stance on the committee keeping Michigan elevated.

"The committee continues to be very impressed with the Michigan team who's the only team in the current rankings that have three wins against current CFP top-10 teams," Hocutt said.

But the path remains seemingly in place for the Clemson: beat South Carolina this weekend and follow it with a victory in the ACC Championship Game and its a likely return to the playoff.

The Tigers' -- who clinched the Atlantic Division last week- opponent in Orlando will be decided this weekend. Virginia Tech can represent the Coastal should it beat rival Virginia or see North Carolina lose to NC State; conversely, the Tar Heels are in if they beat the Wolfpack and the Hokies fall to the Cavaliers.

Louisville is out of the playoff race, but at 9-2 remains a possibility for the Orange Bowl should it beat Kentucky this weekend at home. Of course the Cardinals also have the leader for college football's biggest individual prize with quarterback Lamar Jackson closing in on the Heisman Trophy.

But ultimately, not much changed for the ACC.

Despite its ranking a week ago, Louisville remained a long shot to make the playoff with one Top-25 win (Florida State) and a light strength of schedule outside of that victory. They also needed help to win a division title.

There was the chance enough chaos could make a case for the league to get two teams in, though the Big Ten having four of the top eight -- now four of the first seven -- made that notion seemingly impossible.

It's always been Clemson, the conference's best best since dropping the Cardinals Oct. 1, and it remains Clemson.

These latest rankings and Louisville's slide simply solidify that.

Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His books, 'Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,' and 'The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners.' are now available.