Clemson leads college playoff pack, but Alabama is lurking

Kirk Herbstreit explains how Alabama can still make the Playoff

Clemson No. 1 in College Football Playoff Rankings

Now that the scenario is now officially in play, it deserves a little looking ahead to debate whether or not you should take a two-loss conference champion over a one-loss team without a conference or division championship.

The Badgers opened at No. 9, moved up to No. 8 in Week 2, moved up to No. 5 in Week 3, stayed at No. 5 in Week 4 and moved up this week thanks to losses by then-No. Auburn previously beat Georgia when the Bulldogs were No. 1.

In the ACC, a similar scenario is on the line for Clemson and Miami. On Saturday, nine conference championship games will be played, including four featuring two top-11 teams with clear playoff implications. If Ohio State defeats Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, could the Buckeyes possibly move up from No. 8 to No. 4? The lack of a marquee nonconference win - their game against Georgia Tech was canceled, although that wouldn't have helped much anyway - has hurt them, and they're far out of the conversation. Even less likely. An idle, two-loss Penn State or a 12-0 UCF wouldn't make a dramatic jump in the final weekend, either. Oklahoma at 11-1 lost at home to Iowa State, Clemson at 11-1 lost on the road to Syracuse, and Georgia, which is also 11-1, lost at Auburn.

But a potential Alabama-Ohio State controversy looms.

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Four Ohio State players were named first-team All-Big Ten selections on offense Wednesday.

The Nittany Lions are followed by USC, the highest-ranked team from the Pac-12. That game will be a rematch of a September 9 USC victory at the Coliseum.

No. 11 Southern California (minus 4) vs. Alabama should root for Wisconsin to win if TCU beats Oklahoma earlier in the day. Alabama and Miami were atop the rankings last week, but the Crimson Tide lost the Iron Bowl to Auburn and the Hurricanes dropped a meaningless trap game at Pittsburgh. The only thing standing in the undefeated Knights' way is No. 20 Memphis.

So how would these rankings shake out if they were to hold? Auburn and Oklahoma are the only two teams with two wins over teams which will appear in the top 10 this week. That too would create a leapfrog risk for the Buckeyes as a conference champion jumping above the Tide at the end. Alabama began in 2014 at No. 6, then No. 5, then No. 5.

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SEC: This is a tough one. Georgia checked in at No. 6. The goal for UCF is clear right now, because the victor of the AAC title game against Memphis will secure a New Year's Six bowl spot.

Where it gets unclear is No. 11 TCU (10-2), No. 13 Washington (10-2) and maybe No. 15 Notre Dame (9-3).

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Looks like it, especially if Auburn wins the SEC, but it likely will require a loss by either Wisconsin or Oklahoma.

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First, unique among the top seven, its regular season has ended.

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