The College Football Playoff (CFP) selection committee gave their updated rankings last night, and the top four spots went to Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame, respectively.
The Tigers remain untouchable after facing another ranked team from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clemson was ranked first last week,* and they stay on top after the second week of playoff rankings. By defeating the No. 16 Florida State Seminoles 23-13, they seem to be on a clear path to the ACC Championship game. But the win did not come easy on Saturday, as Clemson didn’t lead the game until a touchdown in the third quarter. Florida State scored a touchdown on the second snap of the game, and the teams traded field goals until it was 10-6. A 38 yard pass from Deshaun Watson to Deon Cain gave Clemson their first lead of the game. Florida State hit a field goal to tie the game, but Clemson had 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. As SB Nation points out, Clemson in the playoffs seems like a no-brainer at this point. The Tigers face the un-ranked Syracuse Orange this Saturday.
But the game that would obviously have the biggest impact on the CFP rankings this week was Alabama (ranked No. 4 going into the game) against LSU (ranked No. 2 going into the game). And unsurprisingly, the story of the game centered around LSU running back — and Heisman Trophy front-runner — Leonard Fournette. Before Alabama, Fournette’s worst game of the year resulted in 150 yards rushing and a touchdown. Against the Crimson Tide, Fournette was held to just 31 yards. LSU dropped to No. 9 in the playoff rankings after the loss. Alabama plays No. 20 Mississippi State on Saturday.
As ESPN noted, Cardale Jones started for the Ohio State Buckeyes against Minnesota, while regular starter J.T. Barrett served a suspension. And while it might not have been perfect, the quarterback had plenty of support. Ohio State’s first touchdown came when Von Bell returned an interception for a touchdown. Later in the second quarter, Ezekiel Elliott had a 15-yard touchdown rush, and the Buckeyes lead the Golden Gophers 14-0 at halftime. Jones turned it up a little bit in the second half, throwing a touchdown pass to Michael Thomas in the third quarter and running one in himself in the fourth. Ohio State remained at No. 3 after defeating Minnesota 28-14. The Buckeyes play the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday.
Notre Dame fought its way into the coveted Top 4 this week after surviving an early injury to running back C.J. Prosise and defeating Pittsburgh 42-30. Along with No. 2 Alabama, Notre Dame has a single loss this year. With two undefeated teams currently at No. 5 and No. 6, it puts a lot of pressure on the Fighting Irish. Next week, they play Wake Forest (3-6) at home. Notre Dame won’t be competing for a conference championship, as they compete as an Independent team.
The Iowa Hawkeyes and the Baylor Bears — No. 5 and No. 6 in the playoff rankings, respectively — are the two teams on the heels of Notre Dame. It’s very possible that Iowa could face Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship game, which will have an obvious impact on the rankings.
*rankings here are based on the College Football Playoff rankings, unless otherwise noted.
[Image credit Streeter Lecka / Getty Images]