USC joins Georgia, Michigan and TCU on CFP’s latest top four list

Georgia, Michigan, TCU and USC all look to make the College Football Playoff with wins in their conference championships this weekend after the selection committee released its final rankings on Tuesday.

There was no change in the top seed as Georgia (12-0) was the top seed. But after Michigan (12-0) beat Ohio State 45-23 last Saturday, the Wolverines moved up one spot to No. 2. TCU (12-0) is the No. 3, and USC (11-1) appeared in the top four after losing to the Buckeyes and LSU.

“A lot of talk about the top four,” CFP committee chairman Boo Corrigan, NC State’s athletic director, said on ESPN’s rankings release show. “We see no reason to knock Georgia out of the top spot.”

Ohio State dropped to No. 5 and now has to hope for upsets and upsets in the upcoming title games to have a chance to get back into the playoff mix. But a lot of that depends on not just the results, but how the team views the undefeated team in the conference title game since Ohio State didn’t play an extra game. Alabama landed at No. 6 behind the Buckeyes.

“It was a tough decision,” Corrigan said of the call to put Ohio State ahead of Alabama. “They have four teams in front of them and a lot of games to play this weekend.”

A win for the top four teams could provide little drama on conference championship weekend. In the Pac-12 championship game in Las Vegas, No. It begins Friday night when No. 11 Utah (9-3) and USC play. Utah handed USC its only loss of the season, 43-42, when quarterback Cam Rising ran for a 1-yard touchdown and successfully converted a 2-point conversion attempt with 48 seconds left.

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On Saturday, Georgia played in the SEC Championship Game against No. 14 plays LSU (9-3); TCU plays No. 10 Kansas State (9-3) in the Big 12 championship game and Michigan plays Purdue (8-4) in the Big Ten championship game. Top 4 CFP teams favored to win.

If one or more teams lose, the team can make tough decisions. But consider this: Beyond the top 5, every other ranked team has two or more losses, and no two-loss team is out of the College Football Playoff.

“College football always delivers,” Corrigan said while previewing the weekend. “As a team, we’re excited to have the opportunity to come together and watch these games. We look forward to evaluating them all.”

Alabama is the higher ranked of the two losing teams, followed by Tennessee at No. 7. Penn State No. 8, Clemson no. 9 and Kansas State at no. Ranked top 10 out of 10. Clemson plays at No. 23. North Carolina (9-3) in Saturday’s ACC Championship Game, but the Tigers were essentially eliminated from playoff contention after a 31-30 loss to South Carolina last Saturday.

That win over Clemson helped South Carolina (8-4) move up from the rankings to No. 19 this week. In addition to beating Clemson, the Gamecocks defeated Tennessee 63-38 the previous week — becoming the first unranked team since Auburn in 2003 to win back-to-back games against AP Top-10 opponents.

Tulane (10-2) is ranked 18th ahead of South Carolina and hosts No. 22 UCF (9-3) on Saturday in the American Athletic Conference championship game. The winner will be the highest-ranked team of roughly 5 and earn a spot in the New Year’s Six game.

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The final standings will be released on Sunday, followed by the bowl announcements for the undefeated teams.

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