College Football Playoff rankings: LSU, USC up key spots in new top 25 as Tennessee falls to No. 10

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With the top four teams in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings all holding serve after emerging victorious last week, the fourth edition of the CFP Top 25 released Tuesday night was largely uneventful. Reigning national champion Georgia stayed at No. 1 with Ohio State right behind. Michigan and TCU rounded out the top four, using field goals to prevent upsets last Saturday.

USC, with its only blemish a one-point loss at Utah on Oct. 15, picked up the biggest win among CFP contenders this Saturday with a 48-45 victory at UCLA. The Trojans’ rise to No. 6 was aided by a shocking upset by Tennessee, which was beaten 63-38 at South Carolina.

Despite its improved ranking, USC still trails No. 5 LSU by two losses. Both teams will compete in their respective conference championship games in two weeks, but the Trojans could potentially jump the Tigers for the penultimate seed next week as USC hosts No. 15 Notre Dame while LSU visits Texas A&M unranked. A quality ranking win might be enough to change the CFP Selection Committee.

Either way, LSU’s path is clear: Win out and the Tigers are in the playoffs.

With the Volunteers now basically eliminated from the playoffs, they will become just the second No. 1-ranked team in the initial CFP rankings of a season to fail to make the four-team field (Mississippi State, 2014). Meanwhile, the Tigers still have a chance to become the first two-loss team to earn a CFP bid in event history.

Back-to-back 25+ point wins have breathed new life into one-loss Clemson, though it still trails a pair of two-loss SEC teams (LSU, Alabama) and one-loss USC. Clemson’s potential strength of schedule took a hit with North Carolina suffering a second loss before an ACC Championship Game meeting, but it is still on track for a seventh CFP appearance in the last eight seasons. If it does eventually make it to the field, it will be the lowest-ranked team at this juncture to do so.

Let’s take a look at the entire CFP Rankings top 25 below with analysis coming from bowl expert Jerry Palm.

College Football Playoff Rankings, Nov. 22

  1. Georgia (11-0)
  2. Ohio State (11-0)
  3. Michigan (11-0)
  4. TCU (11-0)
  5. LSU (9-2)
  6. USC (10-1)
  7. Alabama (9-2)
  8. Clemson (10-1)
  9. Oregon (9-2)
  10. Tennessee (9-2)
  11. Penn State (9-2)
  12. Kansas State (8-3)
  13. Washington (9-2)
  14. Utah (8-3)
  15. Notre Dame (8-3)
  16. Florida State (8-3)
  17. North Carolina (9-2)
  18. UCLA (8-3)
  19. Tulane (9-2)
  20. All Miss (8-3)
  21. Oregon State (8-3)
  22. UCF (8-3)
  23. Texas (7-4)
  24. Cincinnati (9-2)
  25. Louisville (7-4)

Analysis by bowls expert Jerry Palm

Yet to come.

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