Despite upsets, CFP rankings show little changed for ACC

Wayne Gallman and Clemson suffered their first regular-season loss since 2014, but remain in position to return to the College Football Playoff.
Joshua S. Kelly/Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

A chaotic weekend rattled the landscape of this college football season … or then again, maybe it didn't.

Clemson and Michigan — which along with Washington, fell in an historic Week 11 — remained in the top four with Tuesday release of the latest College Football Playoff rankings , while the Huskies are just outside looking in at six.

Louisville, meanwhile, continues to fight for respect at it sits fifth despite avoiding the pitfalls of so many teams ahead of it.

The Wolverines are third and the Tigers fourth, following unquestioned No. 1 Alabama, while Ohio State moved up to second.

Florida State is only other ACC team at No. 17 in poll, as North Carolina and Virginia Tech dropped out.

The message for Clemson on the heels of its 43-42 loss to Pitt remains unchanged: win out, and the Tigers, as ACC champions, would make a return the playoffs.

The message for Louisville also remains unchanged: a one-loss record — with that one loss coming by six points on the road to those aforementioned Tigers — isn't enough to impress the selection committee.

The Cardinals aren't in a position to simply move up due to further attrition — a given with the Buckeyes and Wolverines facing off Nov. 26 in Columbus — and can't make the trip to Orlando as Atlantic Division champions unless Clemson falls this weekend to Wake Forest.

If we're playing the “better loss” card, Louisville would seem to have a serious case given that Clemson and Michigan both fell to 5-4 teams. Meanwhile, Penn State was 4-2 when it beat Ohio State.

There was the likelihood that either two ACC or two Big Ten teams were going to make the top four, but the Big Ten only strengthened its standing, boasting four of the first eight overall with Wisconsin seventh and Penn State at No. 8.

“In Michigan's case, although they lost to an unranked team, they do have three wins against current CFP top-10 teams,” said selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said. “As you look at Clemson, they have three wins against current CFP top-25 teams as well as the head-to-head over Louisville. Louisville, very talented team, only one win over a CFP top-25 team, that being a very talented Florida State team.

We talked in depth about those quality wins. We talked in depth about those losses and all the other facets that make up each of those teams' résumés. We'll continue to evaluate all of these teams each week based upon their full body of work.”

Clemson remains the ACC's true playoff threat, and Louisville still has no clear path into the top four.

Upsets came, in nearly historic fashion, and yet little has changed.

Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His book, 'Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,' is out now, and 'The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners' will be released Nov. 22, 2016.