College Football Playoff top 25: Oregon 2nd, Arizona 7th
Oregon is again ranked second and Pac-12 South champion Arizona popped up to No. 7 in the latest College Football Playoff top 25, announced on Tuesday. If the playoff started today, Oregon would face third-seeded TCU, while top-ranked Alabama would battle No. 4 Florida State. Other Pac-12 teams ranked are UCLA (No. 15), Arizona State (No. 17), Utah (No. 23) and USC (No. 25).
It’s simple now: Win one more game, and nobody is keeping a 12-1 Oregon squad with victories over Michigan State, Arizona and UCLA out of the College Football Playoff. The Ducks enter Friday's Pac-12 Football Championship Game on a roll, having won seven straight games by double digits. The emotions of a rivalry game didn’t get to Oregon at all, as the Ducks scored the first 30 points en route to a 47-19 shellacking of Oregon State in the Civil War this past Saturday. No change for the Ducks in the CFP rankings, which have them squarely at No. 2 for the fourth straight week. Now, Helfrich and Co. get a crack at the only team that beat ‘em – Arizona – in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game.
So much for preseason polls. Picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 South, Arizona won the dang thang after defeating Arizona State 42-35 in Tucson. This team is no stranger to close games, going 6-1 in contests decided by seven points or fewer including a 31-24 road win over Oregon, which is probably the best victory for any team in the country (Ole Miss might have beef with that statement with its triumph over 'Bama). Anyways, clinching the Pac-12 South combined with losses by UCLA, Mississippi State and Georgia have helped push the Wildcats up four spots to No. 7 in this week's CFP top 25.
So can the ‘Cats claw their way into the top 4 with another win over Oregon in Santa Clara? They’d have to jump three teams in the eyes of the selection committee, whose mandate is to choose the best four teams in the country, period. They’d surely surpass the Ducks, so make that two. Arizona would be the only team in the country with multiple wins over a top-4 team, giving the Wildcats as good of a say as anybody to be in the College Football Playoff even with two losses.
Tough way for the Bruins to bow out of the race, dropping a 31-10 decision to Stanford at the Rose Bowl on Black Friday. With their hopes dashed, the Bruins dropped seven spots to No. 15. Those pesky Farm Boys… UCLA has now lost seven straight to the Cardinal. UCLA can still record its second straight 10-win season by coming out victorious in its upcoming bowl game.
Arizona State narrowly missed out on a second-straight trip to the Pac-12 Football Championship Game with its seven-point loss to the Wildcats, but going 9-3 with such inexperience on defense and your starting quarterback going down for a good chunk midseason ain’t nothing to be ashamed about. The Sun Devils did drop from 13 to 17, but nobody would be complaining with another 10-win campaign if the Forks win their bowl game.
Well done, Utes. Dominique Hatfield’s pick-six in the fourth quarter sprung Utah to a 38-34 win over Colorado in Boulder, and as a result, the Utes wrapped up their first winning record in conference play since joining the Pac-12. The 8-4 and 5-4 Utes jumped up a couple of spots to No. 23 and now await their bowl destination.
Eight wins in the regular season is never enough in Troy, but the Trojans closed out the regular season with a bang in defeating Notre Dame 49-14 in the Coliseum behind six touchdown passes from Cody Kessler (a Notre Dame opponent record). After a week out, the Trojans are back in the rankings at No. 25.