The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, November 13, 2019 1:00 am

Beating 'Bama lifts LSU to top of playoff ranks

RALPH D. RUSSO | Associated Press

LSU replaced Ohio State as No. 1 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night after the Tigers won at Alabama on Saturday. The Buckeyes were bumped to No. 2. Clemson moved up two spots to No. 3 after two teams ahead of the Tigers lost for the first time last week, including Alabama.

Alabama is fifth, behind Georgia, which took over the fourth spot in the selection committee's second top 25.

The Crimson Tide fell to 46-41 to LSU and dropped two spots. Penn State, which had been No. 4, lost 31-26 at Minnesota and fell to ninth. The unbeaten Gophers climbed nine spots to eighth, the largest one-week jump in the six-year history of the College Football Playoff.

Georgia moved up two spots to give the Southeastern Conference two of the top four for the second straight week.

Selection committee chairman Rob Mullens, the Oregon athletic director, said Georgia's loss to South Carolina (4-6) was noted by the committee, but the Bulldogs' victories against No. 11 Florida and No. 16 Notre Dame pushed them past Alabama.

Oregon was sixth and fellow Pac-12 team Utah was seventh.

Oklahoma, the highest-ranked Big 12 team at No. 10, dropped a spot after a one-point victory against Iowa State. The Sooners face 13th-ranked Baylor on Saturday. The Bears are the lowest-ranked unbeaten team.

The highest-ranked Group of Five teams were 17th-ranked Cincinnati and 18th-ranked Memphis out of the American Athletic Conference. The highest-ranked team from outside the Power Five conferences receives an automatic bid to a New Year's Six bowl. The final rankings and pairings for the College Football Playoff semifinal will be revealed Dec. 8.

Alabama is the only team to make the playoff all five years. Can it get there again?

Maybe the most comparable team to Alabama from previous years is Ohio State in 2015. Those Buckeyes were the defending national champions with a loaded team that featured Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa and eight others drafted in the first three rounds the following April.

Those Buckeyes lost a November game at home to Michigan State then blew out rival Michigan the next week to finish 11-1, but they really weren't even part of the playoff conversation.

So what does Alabama need to happen this year? The Tide won't have a résumé loaded with big wins, and without that, the Tide could use at least two Power Five champions to finish with two or more losses. No Power Five champ with one loss or fewer has been left out for a team that did not win a conference.

It's difficult to project ahead what the committee will do next with Alabama. Those Pac-12 teams trailing the Tide won't have stacked résumés either, but they could have a conference championship and only one loss, and that's been enough to keep teams like Alabama out before. 

Top 4

1. LSU

2. OSU

3. Clemson

4. Georgia

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