Oregon earned a spot in the college football playoff standings on Tuesday night, and for the first time, the No.3 Ducks weren’t the only representative of the Pac-12.
Utah joined the CFP’s top 25 after beating Stanford for their fifth win in the last six games.
The 24th-ranked Utes could add weight to Oregon’s resume following Fresno State’s retirement, but the Ducks face a complicated path to the semifinals.
To finish in the top four, the Ducks would have to beat Utah twice – a double whammy that could knock the Utes out of the top 25 and leave Oregon with just one win over a ranked opponent.
That adversary, of course, is the state of Ohio.
The Buckeyes were ranked one rung below Oregon this week, followed by No.5 Cincinnati, No.6 Michigan and No.7 Michigan State, who fell four spots after losing to Purdue.
Georgia and Alabama were again the top two teams.
âWhat made the difference for the committee last week was Oregon’s victory at Ohio State,â said selection committee chairman Gary Barta said.
“And I would just say that since nothing has really changed in the eyes of the committee since last week, both teams won, both teams were on the road, Oregon maybe shone a little brighter, but at the end of the day, Oregon ahead of Ohio State this week. “
Oregon’s high ranking is more fragile than it looks due to the upcoming schedule.
The SEC and Big Ten powers face off against the Top 10 teams down the stretch, lending potential rocket fuel to their resumes. The Ducks have only Utah, which could drop out if Oregon wins the head-to-head duel in two weeks.
In other words: there are threats circulating, ready to take the Ducks out of the top four even if they were to finish as the Pac-12 champion to one loss.
Threat # 1: Alabama. If the second-seeded Crimson Tide lead the table and beat Georgia in the SEC title game, the conference is sure to gobble up two of the four playoff spots. (Georgia is a lock, as long as it doesn’t have more than one loss.)
Threat # 2. The Big Ten champion. Whether it’s Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State, a Big Ten winner with a loss could use his November schedule to pass the Ducks. That includes the state of Ohio, despite the face-to-face outcome in September. Note: the committee ranked Michigan ahead of Michigan State this week, even though MSU won the recent head-to-head.
Threat # 3: The Big 12 champion. Undefeated, Oklahoma are five spots below the Ducks, but there are at least two and possibly three games left against teams currently ranked in the top 15 (Oklahoma State and Baylor). If the Sooners finish 13-0, they will pass Oregon 12-1. And if Oklahoma State finishes 12-1, it could overtake Oregon.
Threat # 4: A Second Big Ten Team. If the Michigan State No.7 wins, he will end up champion one loss with a victory over Ohio State. And if the Michigan No.6 wins, he would finish second in the division with a loss withâ¦ a victory over Ohio State. At this point, the difference in the number of wins over the ranked teams (i.e. conference strength) could propel both Michigan schools ahead of the Ducks.
Threat # 5: Cincinnati. The Bearcats are No.5 this week and have beaten Notre Dame at South Bend, but they have no more games left against the currently ranked teams. That said, public and media pressure on the committee to include an undefeated Group of Five team would be significant – to the point that Cincinnati could potentially skip the Ducks.
Threat # 6: Texas A&M. Don’t laugh, because the two-losing Aggies have a path to the SEC West title and, therefore, a path to the SEC championship. What if they somehow run the table and submit a CV that features victories over Georgia? and Alabama, a playoff berth would certainly follow.
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