College Football Playoff top 25: Oregon is No. 2, ASU is No. 6
Oregon jumped up two spots to No. 2 in the latest College Football Playoff top 25, while Arizona State rose up to No. 6 following a win over Notre Dame. If the College Football Playoff started today, second-seeded Oregon would face No. 3 Florida State, while top-seeded Mississippi State would take on No. 4 TCU. Other Pac-12 teams ranked by the selection committee are UCLA (No. 11), Arizona (No. 14) and Utah (No. 23).
Auburn’s loss and Florida State's continued slow starts are Oregon’s gain – the Pac-12 North champions clinched their spot in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game with a 51-27 win over Utah and scooted up two to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff top 25. Lost in the midst of Joe Walker’s 100-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown on one of the craziest plays you’ll ever see and three prominent Ducks going down with injuries was the fact that Marcus Mariota had another stellar performance, accounting for four touchdowns on 239 yards passing and 114 yards rushing. The schedule eases up for the Quacks with Colorado and Oregon State, teams currently with losing records, before heading to Santa Clara on Dec. 5, meaning Oregon has a very good shot of entering Levi’s Stadium with an 11-1 record and top-4 ranking by the CFP.
The Sun Devils aren’t hiding in a regional spotlight; a 55-31 drubbing of Notre Dame put the Forks squarely in the national conversation and right on the edge of the top 4. Thanks to losses by Auburn and Kansas State and an impressive win of its own, the Sun Devils jumped up three spots to No. 6. Arizona State’s biggest obstacle appears to be Arizona, a game that could very well decide who represents the South in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game. Before the Territorial Cup, however, Arizona State has to worry about a game in Corvallis and a home date with Washington State. If Arizona State is able to get to 11-1, it’s very likely that the Dec. 5 game in Levi’s Stadium will serve as a de facto playoff game for entry into the College Football Playoff.
The Bruins continued their recent impressive stretch with a solid 44-30 victory over the Huskies in Seattle thanks to a monstrous performance from Brett Hundley (302 yards passing, two touchdown runs, two touchdown passes). As such, UCLA has jumped up to No. 11 in the CFP top 25, a seven-spot hop that was biggest in this week's poll. The Bruins are next in line in the Pac-12 South to take over should the Sun Devils fall down the stretch since UCLA obliterated Arizona State in Tempe. Of course, UCLA also has to beat USC and Stanford, two teams with winning records. If it does knock off the Trojans and Cardinal, UCLA is in a good spot with potential tiebreaker scenarios, as it holds head-to-head advantages over both Arizona schools and would knock USC down to (at least) three conference losses.
The Wildcats used a robust fourth-quarter performance to knock off Colorado 38-20 and is up to No. 14 in the CFP top 25 as a result, a jump of five spots (losses suffered by Utah, LSU and Oklahoma also helped). It’s an outside shot for sure, but Arizona’s best hopes of rising into the top 4 lie in winning the Pac-12 title like everyone else. To get there, Arizona needs to defeat three teams with at least six wins already – Washington, Utah and Arizona State. The Wildcats also need UCLA to lose one of its last two games, a definite possibility seeing as though those opponents are USC and Stanford. Then, of course, it would need to unseat Oregon for the second time this year and third time in a row (think the Ducks would be just a little amped to play the Wildcats again?). Even after all that, two losses still might be one too many.
With three losses, Utah is pretty much completely out of the College Football Playoff picture. That said, its resume is still top-25 worthy, and the Utes are No. 23 in the latest rankings by the selection committee, dropping six spots. The banged-up Utes (WR Tim Patrick and QB Kendall Thompson are both out for the season after injuries suffered against Oregon) need one win in their final three to ensure a winning season – at Stanford, Arizona and at Colorado.