The fourth College Football Playoff rankings were released this week and the top two teams remain the same as they have the past two weeks. Unbeaten Clemson (11-0) is the No. 1 team in the rankings and Alabama (10-1) is No. 2. But the other two national semifinalists are new, with Oklahoma (10-1) at No. 3 and Iowa (11-0) at No. 4.
Clemson should stay at No. 1 as long as it wins its next two games. The Tigers are 17-point favorites this week at in-state rival South Carolina, which is having its worst season in years. However, Clemson hasn’t won at Columbia in several years. Assuming the Tigers do win that game, the ACC Championship Game against No. 14 North Carolina is next up. That could be a challenge as the Tar Heels haven’t been beaten since a close opening night loss to …. South Carolina.
Even though the Tigers are No. 1 in the polls and don’t have a loss — plus impressive wins over No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 13 Florida State — they aren’t the betting favorites to win the College Football Playoff. Clemson is 4.000 while Alabama is 2.600.
The Tide are 14-point favorites for this week’s Iron Bowl game at Auburn, which was expected to be a national championship contender this season but has vastly underachieved. It should be noted that the last time Alabama visited Auburn, the Tide were favorites and had national title aspirations but were upset on the infamous “Kick-Six” in 2013. Alabama, led by Heisman Trophy favorite Derrick Henry, still hasn’t even clinched the SEC West Division yet. It will with a victory, but an Auburn upset would send Ole Miss into the SEC Championship Game as long as the Rebels beat Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. The SEC West champion will face SEC East champion and No. 12 Florida for the conference title.
CAN OKLAHOMA, IOWA HANG ON TO FINAL SPOTS?
Oklahoma jumped up four spots this week in the rankings to No. 3. The Sooners have won six straight, five in dominating fashion, since a surprising loss to Texas in early October. Oklahoma would win the Big 12 championship — there is not conference title game — with a victory on Saturday in the annual Bedlam Game against No. 11 Oklahoma State. The Sooners are 7-point favorites. A win there should be enough to get OU into the playoff even though its regular season is finished. Oklahoma is 9.000 to win the national title.
Iowa moved up one spot this week, but the Hawkeyes aren’t getting much respect as a national championship contender as they are 12.000 to win it all. They have a tough game at Nebraska to close the regular season and then Iowa will be an underdog in the Big Ten Championship Game against either No. 5 Michigan State, No. 8 Ohio State or No. 10 Michigan.
Michigan State, 11.000 to win the playoff, controls its own fate despite being No. 5 in the rankings. Beat visiting Penn State this week and then Iowa next week and the Spartans will be in the playoff. If MSU loses to Penn State, the Ohio State-Michigan winner will face Iowa.