Sun, Dec 15, 2019

The top four teams in the country all won in Week 14, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any notable shakeups to keep an eye on when the new college football rankings are released on Sunday. For starters, the AP Top 25 will have a choice as to whether they will follow the College Football Playoff Selection Committee in naming Ohio State the No. 1 team in the country.

The Buckeyes were impressive and dominant in their win against Michigan, but it did not come paired with a loss or setback for LSU, the team that received 50 of the 62 first-place votes in last week’s polling. The Tigers beat Texas A&M by 43 and will likely keep that No. 1 spot as No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Georgia followed suit with impressive and as expected wins against their Rivalry Week opponents. 

One of the biggest questions for the AP voters and those who handle college football rankings will be how to deal with Alabama after its loss to Auburn. The one thing we know for sure is the Tide’s loss has opened the door for Utah, which should enter the Pac-12 Championship Game with an expectation that it’s got a good shot to make the College Football Playoff should it win against Oregon. 

Further down in the rankings, we see some shake-ups in the 20s and a handful of Big Ten teams twisting up the spots outside the top 10. Here’s how we expect it all to look on Sunday.

1. LSU (Last Week — 1): I don’t think we’ll see the AP voters follow the committee’s lead, especially after LSU’s dominant 50-7 win against Texas A&M. The Tigers are 12-0 with some of the best wins in the country on its profile, so they’ll keep the top spot in the media’s rankings.  

2. Ohio State (2): Michigan was playing its best football of the year, and the Buckeyes still overwhelmed the Wolverines in all three phases of the game in a win that may draw a few more first-place votes. 

3. Clemson (3): Discussing this year’s Tigers team almost always starts with Trevor Lawrence, but Saturday was yet another reminder of Travis Etienne rare status among Clemson’s all-time greats. The reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year broke James Conner’s career ACC records for rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns in a 35-point win against South Carolina. 

4. Georgia (4): Voters won’t react to the negative storylines and how the Bulldogs will be impacted by injuries and ejections. They’ll instead focus on the 45-point win and keep the SEC East champs at No. 4. 

5. Utah (6): The Utes are one of the most complete teams in the country. The last 9-10 weeks of evidence should let anyone know that this is not only a conference championship contender but a national championship contender. That challenge now is to prove it on the Pac-12’s biggest stage against an Oregon team that occupied that playoff-contending seat just a few weeks ago. 

6. Oklahoma (7): Mike Gundy diagnosed Oklahoma’s offense well heading into the game and then had to watch as that same dominant ground attack wore down the Cowboys and closed out a 13th win in the last 15 meetings between the Bedlam rivals. The way that Jalen Hurts and the Oklahoma running backs wear down opponents over the course of the game makes it elite in the fourth quarter, holding full control of the game once it can take the lead. 

7. Florida (8): Saturday night marked Florida’s first win against Florida State in The Swamp since 2009 and the first back-to-back 10-win seasons since 2008-09. The offense was humming in a way it hasn’t since that same Urban Meyer era, so it’s understandable why Florida fans are going to come into next season with 2008-09 type expectations for Dan Mullen. The Gators have to this point been ranked far higher in the AP Top 25 than the CFP Rankings.

8. Alabama (5): According to SEC Network, the Tide have missed 101 field goals in the Nick Saban era, more than any other program in the span. For all the hand-wringing about Alabama’s penalties, Mac Jones’ two pick-sixes and the way Auburn won, this was still a game that could have easily broken the other way with a few different bounces. Alabama is a 10-2 team with two losses to quality teams and showed that it can score against elite defenses even without Tua Tagovailoa. 

9. Baylor (11): Matt Rhule has to like the state of his team heading into the rematch with Oklahoma after a 61-6 win against Kansas in the regular-season finale. 

10. Auburn (16): We’re going to guess that the Tigers’ three losses take a back seat to the instant impact of Saturday’s win against Alabama and we see Auburn land ahead of the handful of Big Ten teams knocking on the door of the top 10. 

11. Wisconsin (13): The Badgers needed Jack Coan to play well in order to secure a return to the Big Ten Championship Game, and he stepped up to the challenge in a snowstorm on the road at Minnesota. The conditions suggested a heavy dose of Jonathan Taylor might be enough, but Coan’s key throws put the Badgers in control of the de facto Big Ten West title game. 

12. Minnesota (9): A slight step back after the loss is cushioned by a head-to-head win against Penn State. P.J. Fleck won’t be rowing his boat to Indianapolis, but the Golden Gophers can hang on in the top 15 after taking on some water on Saturday. 

13. Penn State (12): It’s awfully tough to get up for a regular