Is Utah playing a win-and-in game for the College Football Playoff on Friday night?
The Utes moved up to No. 5 in the penultimate set of playoff rankings Tuesday night following Alabama’s loss to Auburn. Oklahoma is at No. 6 while Baylor is at No. 7. Oklahoma and Baylor play each other Saturday in the Big 12 championship game, a day after Utah plays Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.
Both of the Big 12 teams are 11-1. The winner of the title game would be 12-1, the same record as Utah if the Utes beat the Ducks. Assuming No. 2 LSU beats No. 4 Georgia in the SEC championship game Saturday afternoon, the final playoff spot will come down to Utah and the Big 12 champion in that scenario.
Utah beat Colorado in the final week of the regular season while Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State. The Cowboys dropped to No. 25 in Tuesday’s rankings.
“You’re looking at Oklahoma and their win over a ranked opponent and so you check that box there,” playoff chairman Rob Mullens said when asked about comparing Oklahoma and Utah. “You look at Utah and you say boy they’ve been so consistent all season long and they’ve been dominant. Their defense is incredible.”
The Utes appear to have the upper hand. At the moment, anyway. The committee could decide that a win by the Big 12 champ would be more impressive than a Utah win over No. 13 Oregon. It’s shown that it’s not afraid to make drastic changes on a week-to-week basis.
Alabama drops to No. 12 ... and out of a New Year’s Six bowl?
The committee did not like what it saw from Alabama against Auburn on Saturday in a 48-45 loss to the Tigers. Alabama fell all the way from No. 5 to No. 12 and a spot behind the Tigers. Auburn moved up four spots. It’s the lowest Alabama has ever been in a set of CFP rankings.
“Alabama, their only two losses are to a No. 2 and a No. 11 team,” Mullens said. “However, they only have two wins over Power Five teams with winning records, both Texas A&M and Tennessee, who are 7-5.”
Auburn scored two defensive touchdowns in the win and got some help from the officials’ clock management for a field goal at the end of the first half in the win. Oh, and Alabama played the game with Tua Tagovailoa on the sidelines. Yet the committee saw enough to drop Alabama over a half-dozen spots. And maybe out of the prestigious New Year’s Six bowl games in the process.
At the moment, teams Nos. 5-10 appear to be headed to the four non-playoff New Year’s Six Bowl games. Add in No. 24 Virginia to the Orange Bowl and the highest-ranked Group of Five team and that’s eight teams for four games. And no room for Alabama in the Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl or Rose Bowl.
If the Tide does miss out on a New Year’s Six Bowl, it could end up in the Citrus Bowl while Auburn gets a New Year’s Six spot if Wisconsin falls out of the top 10.
“The New Year's six are decided strictly based on rankings and contracts,” Mullens said. “We'll have to wait and see what the final rankings are. But I would say [Auburn] being at 11 puts them within the range where that could be a topic of conversation after we get through next week's games.”
Nick Saban through his career
Nick Saban through his career
Louisiana State University head coach Nick Saban celebrates as his players hold the national championship trophy after the Tigers' 21-14 win over the University of Oklahoma in the Nokia Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, January 4, 2004. REUTERS/Marc Serota JLS
The Miami Dolphins' new coach Nick Saban talks during a press conference at the Dolphins training center in Davie, Florida, January 4, 2005. Saban is one of the most successful collegiate coaches over last five years. REUTERS/Carlos Barria CB/SV
Miami Dolphins new head coach Nick Saban watches his team run drills on the first day of camp in Davie, Florida, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Marc Serota MS/LA
Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban argues a call during a game against the Atlanta Falcons in Miami, Florida, November 6, 2005. Atlanta defeated Miami 17-10. REUTERS/Marc Serota
Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban argues a call against the New England Patriots in Miami, Florida November 13, 2005.The Patriots defeated the Dolphins 23-16.REUTERS/Marc Serota
Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban (C) watches as Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu (R) intercepts a pass meant for Miami receiver Chris Chamber (84) in the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 7, 2006. REUTERS/Jason Cohn (UNITED STATES)
University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban takes the field as he returns to Tiger Stadium to take on Louisiana State University during their NCAA football game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana November 8, 2008. Saban is the former head coach of LSU. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES)
University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban poses with Heisman Memorial Trophy award winner running back Mark Ingram (R) at a news conference in New York December 12, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Alabama coach Nick Saban throws during team practice for the BCS Championship NCAA college football game in Costa Mesa, California January 4, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban directs his team against the LSU Tigers during the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in New Orleans, January 9, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban (C) watches Josh Chapman hold up the trophy after their team defeated the LSU Tigers during the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in New Orleans, Louisiana, January 9, 2012. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban points upwards after his team defeated the Georgia Bulldogs during the NCAA SEC college football championship in Atlanta, Georgia, December 1, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban speaks during media day for the 2013 BCS National Championship NCAA football game in Miami, Florida January 5, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
University of Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban stands next to the Coaches' Trophy after his team beat Notre Dame in the NCAA college football 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game during a news conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida January 8, 2013. This is Saban's fourth title and third at Alabama. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Jan 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban on the field prior to the 2015 Sugar Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban celebrates with his team after winning the 2015 SEC Championship Game against the Florida Gators at the Georgia Dome. Alabama won 29-15. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry (2) dunks head coach Nick Saban with Gatorade after the game against the Clemson Tigers in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Alabama won 45-40. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; President Barack Obama holds an honorary game ball presented by Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban (left) during a ceremony honoring the 2015 national champion Crimson Tide in the East Room at the White House. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport American Football NCAA) *** Local Caption *** 2016-03-02T220115Z_870359777_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NCAA-FOOTBALL-ALABAMA-WHITE-HOUSE-VISIT.JPG
Nov 4, 2017; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban holds up two fingers on the field against the LSU Tigers during the forth quarter quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban after the game against the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2017; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban holds up two fingers on the field against the LSU Tigers during the forth quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 25, 2017; Auburn, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban greets Bo Jackson (left) before the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban reacts during the fourth quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2018 Sugar Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban wears a hat backwards as he talks to quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) after the game against the Clemson Tigers in the 2018 Sugar Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 8, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban reacts after beating the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2018 CFP national championship college football game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks to media after wining the National Championship during a press conference at the Sheraton Downtown hotel. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 07: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Kyle Field on October 7, 2017 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 23: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs onto the field with his team prior to a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 23, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 23: Alabama head coach Nick Saban arrives at the stadium before a college football game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Alabama Crimson Tide on September 23, 2017 at Commodore Stadium in Nashville, TN. (Photo by Jamie Gilliam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Minnesota drops 10 spots
Alabama wasn’t the only team that had a huge drop in the rankings. Minnesota went from No. 8 to No. 18 after losing at home to Wisconsin on Saturday. The Badgers moved up four spots to No. 8 with the win.
Much like the movement after the Iron Bowl, the corresponding Minnesota and Wisconsin movement doesn’t make much sense. While the game for Paul Bunyan’s Axe wasn’t close, Minnesota dropped all the way behind Memphis and a three-loss Iowa team that gave the Gophers their first loss of the season.