College Football Playoff Picture for championship week: Chaos is here with Michigan in, Ohio State out

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Rivalry Week did not diappoint. 

No. 5 Michigan knocked off No. 2 Ohio State 42-27 in The Game to win its first Big Ten East championship. The Wolverines are now in prime position to make the College Football Playoff for the first time if they can avoid an upset against Iowa. 

BENDER: Michigan’s hell froze over in the snow

No. 3 Alabama rallied with a last-minute drive behind Bryce Young to beat Auburn 24-22 in a four-overtime thriller. Now, the Crimson Tide face the test of all tests against top-ranked Georgia. 

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State lived up to every bit of the nickname ‘Bedlam’ before OSU prevailed and moved to 11-1.

How does the rest of the field look? 

MORE: Ohio State loss will shake up rankings

Sporting News continues to sort those teams out based on how the contenders should be ranked. The next-to-last set of CFP rankings will be Tuesday, followed by the final pairings on Sunday. 

Each week, we will break down the playoff picture based on how we think the CFP committee should rank the top-10 teams. Future results are not projected:

Four in the College Football Playoff 

1. Georgia (12-0)

Next week: vs. Alabama (SEC championship) 

The Bulldogs are in, for all intents and purposes. Georgia completed an unbeaten regular season with a 45-0 beatdown of rival Georgia Tech. Stetson Bennett passed for 255 yards and four TDs, and the Bulldogs have allowed 6.9 points per game heading into the matchup with Alabama. Even with a loss, Georgia feels like its the only team that has one of the four spots secured. 

2. Michigan (11-1) 

Next week: vs. Iowa (Big Ten championship) 

It’s taken longer than expected, but Jim Harbaugh is one step closer. Michigan finally broke the eight-game losing skid to Ohio State with an emphatic 42-27 victory at the Big House. Hassan Haskins rushed for 169 yards and five TDs in a throw-back performance, and Aidan Hutchinson had three sacks. Michigan is in the Big Ten championship game for the first time, where Iowa will be waiting. The Wolverines also would have a spot all but secured if not for the loss to Michigan State. 

3. Alabama (11-1) 

Next week: vs. Georgia (SEC championship)

The Iron Bowl didn’t disappoint. Trey Sanders was stopped short on fourth-and-1 late in the fourth quarter, which appeared to mark another disappointing loss at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Instead, Bryce Young took advantage of one last shot to lead a 97-yard drive that forced overtime. The Crimson Tide then capitalized, to pull out a 24-22 victory after four overtimes on John Metchie’s two-point conversion catch. Alabama still is walking a tight-rope, but it made the SEC championship game and gets a chance to seal another playoff berth with a victory against unbeaten Georgia. A two-loss Crimson Tide team is going to be the source of some compelling arguments should it fall in Atlanta.

MORE: Bigsby’s blunder opens door for Tide

MORE: Tempers flare in tunnel at halftime of Michigan-Ohio State

4. Cincinnati (12-0)

Next week: vs. Houston (AAC championship) 

The Bearcats took care of business in a 35-13 victory against East Carolina on Friday, which capped an unbeaten season. Up next is a matchup with Houston (11-1) in the American Athletic Conference championship game. Desmond Ridder passed for 301 yards and two TDs against the Pirates and has an intriguing case to be a Heisman Trophy finalist. Cincinnati still might have to hold off the Big 12 championship, but that victory against Notre Dame has even more merit.

TROCCHI: Will another uneven performance by Cincinnati be enough? 

Two out

5. Notre Dame (11-1) 

Next week: Regular season complete

Notre Dame doesn’t have a conference championship game, but the Irish completed an impressive season with a 45-14 victory against Stanford. Jack Coan completed more than 70 percent passing for the fourth consecutive game, and the Irish have a compelling CFP case knowing the only loss was to Cincinnati. Will out of sight, out of mind on conference championship weekend help or hurt the Irish? The eternal question still stands, but an Alabama loss to Georgia opens the door. 

6. Oklahoma State (11-1)

Next week: vs. Baylor (Big 12 championship)

Oklahoma State needed a last-minute stop to survive Bedlam, but the Cowboys won 37-33 in dramatic fashion to knock the rival Sooners out of the College Football Playoff race. Collin Oliver sacked Caleb Williams on the game’s final play, and Oklahoma State now draws Baylor in the Big 12 championship. The Cowboys won the regular-seaon matchup 24-14, and a win would give them five victories against ranked opponents. That’s enough to create debate should any combination of Alabama, Michigan or Cincinnati lose. Is it enough to leap-frog Notre Dame? 

Four to watch 

7. Baylor (10-2)

Next week: vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12 championship) 

Who had Baylor in the Big 12 championship in the preseason? Second-year coach Dave Aranda has worked wonders with the Bears, and they capped a 10-win regular season with a 27-24 victory against Texas Tech. Gerry Bohanon (hamstring) didn’t play, but Blake Shapen filled in with 254 passing yards and a pair of TDs. Abram Smith added 117 yards rushing. The Bears won’t crack the CFP without major chaos, and even with it they remain a longshot. 

8. Oregon (10-2)

Next week: vs. Oregon (Pac-12 championship)   

We’re back to this point again. The Ducks got back on track with a 33-24 victory against Oregon State and now have a shot a third straight Pac-12 championship. Oregon has two losses, but they have a chance to correct their mistake against Utah in the Pac-12 championship game. The Ducks beat the Buckeyes on Sept. 11, and a win against the Utes likely puts Oregon in a rematch situation in the Rose Bowl. 

9. Ohio State (10-2)

Next week: Regular season complete

For the first time in five years, the Buckeyes will not represent the Big Ten East in the Big Ten championship game. The 42-27 loss to Michigan leads to some serious questions about the defense. C.J. Stroud passed for 394 yards and two TDs in a loss that closely resembled the Sept. 11 slipup against Oregon. The Buckeyes might be the most-talented team in the New Year’s Day Six, but third-year coach Ryan Day will have an interesting offseason after that first loss to the Wolverines.

10. Iowa (10-2)

Next week: vs. Michigan (Big Ten championship game) 

Ole Miss will likely be ranked higher, but the Hawkeyes have a division championship and an opportunity to play for the Big Ten championship for the first time since 2015. Iowa won four straight games since the back-to-back losses to Purdue and Wisconsin, and they closed the regular season with a come-from-behind 28-21 victory against Nebraska. Michigan beat Iowa 10-3 in the teams’ last meeting in 2019.



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