The penultimate edition of the 2020 College Football Playoff Rankings was released Tuesday night, and the first five teams in the top 25 were unchanged as they have been for multiple weeks. Alabama remains the top-ranked team in the nation with Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State filling out the top four.
With the Buckeyes set to play in the BIg Ten Championship Game against Northwestern on Saturday, questions about their candidacy from the CFP seem to have dissipated, especially as the list of contenders seemingly shrunk after Florida was upset by LSU last week.
Texas A&M remains as the first team out with Iowa State jumping up to No. 6 as the second team outside of the field. The Cyclones will face No. 10 Oklahoma on Saturday in the Big 12 Championship Game for a New Year’s Six bid.
The Gators, despite their shocking loss, only dropped one spot to No. 7 ahead of the SEC Championship Game against the Crimson Tide. That not only gives Florida at least an outside chance of making its way into the four-team field if everything shakes out in its favor, it likely puts UF in pole position to earn a New Year’s Six spot ahead of Georgia, which the Gators beat 44-28 head-to-head on Nov. 7.
Cincinnati fell one spot to No. 9 after once again sitting on the sidelines. It will face No. 23 Tulsa in the AAC Championship Game with a New Year’s Six bid on the line for the Bearcats. Coastal Carolina at No. 12 is in contention for that spot should Cincinnati lose.
Let’s take a look at the entire CFP Rankings top 25. Keep on reading for analysis from CBS Sports bowls expert Jerry Palm.
College Football Playoff Rankings, Dec. 15
- Alabama (10-0)
- Notre Dame (10-0)
- Clemson (9-1)
- Ohio State (5-0)
- Texas A&M (7-1)
- Iowa State (8-2)
- Florida (8-2)
- Georgia (7-2)
- Cincinnati (8-0)
- Oklahoma (7-2)
- Indiana (6-1)
- Coastal Carolina (11-0)
- USC (5-0)
- Northwestern (6-1)
- North Carolina (8-3)
- Iowa (6-2)
- BYU (10-1)
- Miami (8-2)
- Louisiana (9-1)
- Texas (6-3)
- Oklahoma State (7-3)
- NC State (8-3)
- Tulsa (6-1)
- San Jose State (6-0)
- Colorado (4-1)
Analysis by bowls expert Jerry Palm
This week’s rankings provide more nitpicks than major squabbles. That is unless you are still on the Georgia-is-vastly-overrated train. The Bulldogs provide a floor for the Gators’ drop in the rankings because of the head-to-head result. That floor is too high because Georgia is too high at No. 8. That said, the Dawgs picked up their best win of the season last week at Missouri.
Unfortunately for now-No. 9 Cincinnati, that win was enough to push Georgia ahead of the Bearcats this week. Cincinnati has suffered for not being able to build up its resume while sitting out because of COVID-19 concerns. Missing out on a chance to beat Tulsa on the road hurts, even though the Bearcats still get a shot at the Golden Hurricane this week at home. Cincinnati was not a CFP contender anyway, but the Bearcats do have a chance to finish with the highest ranking of a Group of Five team. That record is currently by UCF, which finished eighth in 2018.
No. 11 Indiana is another team that has missed out on chances to build its resume for a New Year’s Six game. COVID-19 issues have canceled two chances for the Hoosiers to play Purdue. More importantly, not getting to play the Boilermakers on Dec. 12 cost Indiana a chance to play Iowa this week, which would have been an opportunity for a much needed quality win. The Hoosiers may now need Oklahoma to lose the Big 12 Championship Game to get a chance at the New Year’s Six. It seems unlikely that Iowa State would fall far enough with a loss to give Indiana a spot.
Miami took the biggest hit in the rankings this week after giving up almost 800 yards and 62 points to UNC. As expected, the impact in the rankings was that it hurt Miami more than it helped the Tar Heels. The Hurricanes dropped eight spots to No. 18, while UNC only moved up two and sits 15th. If both Notre Dame and Clemson qualify for the CFP, North Carolina would be the ACC representative to the Orange Bowl.
No. 12 Coastal Carolina still has a slim chance to make the New Year’s Six without being the highest rated Group of Five champion. That would require a dominant win over No. 19 Louisiana in the Sun Belt Championship Game and some help to get the Chanticleers into the final top 10. With two of the New Year’s Six team likely to finish below that, it will take a ranking that high to be selected simply as an at-large team.