Oklahoma is No. 3 in the College Football Playoff selection committee rankings, putting the Sooners safely in position to be in the final four with their season completed.
The Sooners locked up the Big 12 championship with a blowout victory at Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Clemson is still No. 1 and Alabama remained No. 2. Both the Tigers (12-0) and Crimson Tide (11-1) head into their conference championship games Saturday needing just a victory to lock up a playoff spot.
"The committee debated long and hard about the No. 1 and No. 2 teams," committee chairman Jeff Long said.
The top seed gets to play closest to home, so for Clemson a semifinal game at the Orange Bowl in Miami is also on the line against North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game. The Tar Heels (11-1) are No. 10.
Iowa is No. 4 (12-0) and Michigan State (11-1) is No. 5, setting up a playoff play-in game in Saturday’s Big Ten title game.
Hoping for an upset by the Tar Heels against Clemson or Florida against Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game is No. 6 Ohio State (11-1) and No. 7 Stanford (10-2).
The Buckeyes’ season is over. The Cardinal can win the Pac-12 championship Saturday by beating Southern California for the second time this year.
WHAT HAPPENS IF …
— Clemson loses to North Carolina and Stanford wins?
The most intriguing possible debate for the selection committee. It would put Ohio State back in play and the committee would have to slice and dice the resumes of the Tar Heels, trying to make a huge jump after winning a title, the Cardinal, a two-loss conference champion with a top-10 win against Notre Dame, and the defending national champion Buckeyes.
— Alabama loses to Florida?
The SEC is out. The Gators dropped to No. 18 after losing 27-2 and an upset will almost certainly reflect poorly on the Crimson Tide, even though it nearly moved into the top spot this week.
GROUP OF FIVE
The American Athletic Conference championship game between Houston and Temple should also send the winner to a New Year’s Six bowl game, probably the Peach Bowl.
The Cougars (11-1) will host the AAC title game and are No. 19 in the new rankings. The Owls (10-2) are No. 22.
The only other team from the Group of Five conferences — Mountain West, Sun Belt, Mid-American and Conference USA — is Navy at No. 23, which is also from the American.