While the first four spots of the College Football Playoff rankings remain unchanged, Utah, Oklahoma, and Baylor are all taking big steps toward the top. The Utes, Sooners, and Bears grabbed spots 5, 6 and 7 in the rankings, and all conceivably have a chance at the fourth spot in the CFP.

Baylor Oklahoma College Football Championship
Oklahoma beat Baylor earlier in the season, but the two meet each other again in the Big 12 Championship where the winner could get into the College Football Playoff. (Image: AP)

Ohio State, LSU, Clemson, and Georgia all retain their positions in the top four spots of the latest ranking after each won in blowouts last Saturday, with differentials of 29 or more points in their respective games.

It’s in the next three spots where things get interesting. The 13-member committee toiled over who should take over No. 5 after Alabama lost to Auburn, 48-45. The Crimson Tide was favored by 3.5 points, and the committee dinged them, dropping them all the way down to 12. This ended Alabama’s reign in the College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide have been in every CFP since its inception in 2014.

Utah, Oklahoma, Baylor All Move Up

With Alabama’s loss, the committee had to decide who would be the fifth, sixth, and seventh teams in the CFP rankings. According to selection committee chairman, Rob Mullens, there was a lot of discussion regarding the spots.

“We spent considerable time on four through seven, and we understand where those are this week, and we’ll look to see the games this weekend,” Mullens said on Tuesday on ESPN. “There’s a bunch of teams that are tightly matched.”

Utah, Oklahoma, and Baylor ended up taking spots five, six, and seven, respectively. The Utes and Sooners each moved up one spot, while the Bears jumped up two.

The eighth spot went to Wisconsin, who moved up four places. Florida jumped from No. 11 to No. 9, while Penn State kept its hold on the No. 10 position.

Weekend Games are Vital

The biggest game this weekend is the SEC Championship featuring LSU and Georgia. The Tigers are favored by seven points over the Bulldogs. If Georgia can upset LSU, the Tigers could fall out of the CFP’s top four teams. The more probable scenario, however, is that Georgia loses to LSU and gets bounced out of the fourth spot.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart told reporters at SEC Championship Media Day on Tuesday that he isn’t embracing the underdog role.

“No, we really don’t bring that up,” Smart said. “What we worry about is what do we have to do to execute well. And I don’t get into who is favored by how many or underdogs. It’s just not important because the people that make those decisions aren’t in this room. They’re not, like, in our meeting rooms, they’re not in our meetings, they don’t go there through our practices.”

The weekend’ second-biggest game is Utah against Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship. If Utah wins, and Georgia loses, they might take the fourth spot in the CFP.

Oklahoma has a chance to move up if they defeat Baylor in the Big 12 Championship game, and Georgia loses. The Sooners won this season’s first contest against the Bears, but Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley told reporters on Monday the rematch is a different situation.

“Our focus has just got to be on this one, and how we can play our very best,” Riley said. “We know we’re going to have to play well to beat Baylor. They’re a darned good football team.”

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