Defending champ Clemson atop CFP rankings, followed by Auburn, Oklahoma, Wisconsin

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley looks on from the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Baylor in Waco Texas. At right in an Oct. 1 2016 file

The Badgers defeated the Golden Gophers 31-0. Alabama's nine Power Five victims are 53-54 this season, set against numbers such as that of Clemson (a marvelous 67-39), Auburn (54-30, with just seven Power Five victims but two top-tier ones in Georgia and Alabama), Oklahoma (57-51) and Georgia (57-49).

The national semifinals are set for January 1, at 4pm at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and at 7:45 p.m.at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Auburn lost to No. 1 Clemson and No. 17 LSU on the road, but it owns double-digit wins over No. 5 Alabama and No. 6 Georgia that are far superior to anything that Wisconsin has accomplished.

"It is a heck of a challenge playing against a really good Ohio State football team and what we're playing for is the Big Ten championship".

But what if Ohio State wins?

"Very little separation in the committee's eyes between teams 5 through 8", Hocutt said.

Nick Saban and Alabama have not been ranked outside the playoff top four since November 8, 2014.

The Oklahoma football team finds itself in the driver's seat entering the renewed Big 12 Championship Game as the College Football Playoff selection committee has ranked the Sooners No. 3. Auburn (10-2), 3. Oklahoma (11-1), 4.

Even though they'd have the Big 12 championship, it's hard to envision a scenario where a two-loss TCU team gets in over Alabama. Georgia (11-1), 7. Miami (FL) (10-1), 8. 1 team in three weeks - Auburn climbed to No. 2, despite owning two losses.

Penn State is ninth and Southern California is the highest ranked Pac-12 team at No. 10. That too would create a leapfrog risk for the Buckeyes as a conference champion jumping above the Tide at the end.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart yells to his players during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Auburn in Auburn Ala. Three weeks after an ugly loss at Auburn No. 6 Georgia has perhaps the biggest
Clemson No. 1 in College Football Playoff Rankings

An Oklahoma loss to TCU is the best scenario for Alabama. Win and you're in 3.

MI was not listed in the College Football Playoff standings. Auburn previously beat Georgia when the Bulldogs were No. 1.

Alabama fans will be rooting hard for Ohio State to win the Big Ten championship this season because it is one of two ways Alabama can reach the playoff this season.

Clemson (11-1), the defending national champion, moves up to No. 1 in this week's rankings. The Tigers might have some cushion.

The basic theme of this weekend's conference championship games?

Hate is a strong word. They're followed by Oklahoma and Wisconsin as the other two teams would be in if the playoffs began today.

That ranking prompted this tweet from UCF athletic director Danny White: "You've got to be kidding me!"

Other than that, the highest-ranked teams by the committee get those spots. The victor will get the Group of Five's guaranteed spot in a New Year's Six bowl game, but those teams are not even an afterthought in the playoff conversation.

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