CFP Top 25: USC up to No. 10, Stanford soars to No. 12

Pac-12 South champion USC moved into the top 10 of the latest College Football Playoff top 25 rankings released Tuesday afternoon, sliding up one spot to No. 10. Joining the Trojans in the CFP top 25 are No. 12 Stanford, No. 13 Washington, and No. 18 Washington State.

The top four teams in the latest rankings are No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 Wisconsin.

USC

As a result of Notre Dame’s 38-20 loss to Stanford, USC was able to hop into the No. 10 spot even though the Trojans finally had a bye week and did not play. Despite the increased ranking and an enhanced Stanford resume to play in the Pac-12 Football Championship Game, the path to the College Football Playoff still appears to be blocked for USC and the rest of the Pac-12. Not helping matters was Auburn’s victory over Alabama, as the Crimson Tide still have a chance at a semifinal spot as a one-loss team and Auburn’s two-loss resume is significantly stronger than USC’s as a result of two wins over No. 1-ranked teams in Georgia and Alabama.

With the winner of the SEC championship game penciled in and a one-loss ACC champion a guarantee, that would leave two spots left. It would then come down to two spots for Alabama, the Big 12 champion, the Big Ten champion and potentially USC. If Oklahoma and Wisconsin win, that would leave us with a one-loss Big 12 champion and an undefeated Big Ten champ, thereby completely blocking USC’s path. If TCU and Ohio State win, that would potentially leave us with three Power Five two-loss conference champions (not including Auburn, which would already be a lock).

USC is currently one spot ahead of TCU but two spots behind Ohio State – with Ohio State facing a higher-ranked opponent in the conference championship, it would be unlikely for USC to jump the Buckeyes. It would also not be a given that USC would stay in front of TCU, given that the Horned Frogs play a top-five Oklahoma team in the Big 12 title game. And then there’s Alabama still, a three-year CFP participant with just one loss. Despite a weak non-conference schedule, it’d be hard to imagine the committee ranking the Trojans ahead of the Crimson Tide. In short, USC’s best bet is the Fiesta Bowl.

Stanford

The Cardinal is rolling right now, having won eight of its last nine to get into its fourth Pac-12 Football Championship Game in the last six years (a fruit basket addressed to Chris Petersen would be a nice touch for the Huskies beating Washington State). And, after having dominated Notre Dame in the fourth quarter, the Cardinal rolls into Santa Clara with a No. 12 next to its name, an improvement of nine spots from the previous rankings. There is no path to the College Football Playoff for the Cardinal with three losses, and Stanford is likely not making a New Year’s Six bowl with a loss on Friday night, but a sixth 10-win season, fifth top-notch bowl game and fourth Pac-12 title in seven years under David Shaw would be another nice notch on the belt to show the rest of the country that Stanford is an established power in the Pac-12. The Cardinal gave up 623 yards of offense to the Trojans in the 42-24 loss to USC in September, but that was obviously a long time ago. Expect Friday night’s game to be a tad closer.

Washington

No repeat Pac-12 title or College Football Playoff appearance for the Dawgs, but a thorough beatdown of Wazzu in the Apple Cup is a nice way to end the regular season. Another 10-win regular season has the Dawgs up four spots to No. 13 in the latest CFP rankings. There is maybe a very slight chance at a New Year’s Six Bowl, but it’s looking more like the Holiday or Alamo Bowl for the Dawgs.

Washington State

The 41-14 loss on Montlake at the hands of the Dawgs leaves Washington State at 9-3 and a No. 18 ranking, a drop of five spots from last Tuesday’s poll. The Cougars still figure to get a quality bowl game and will have the chance to get their first 10-win season under Mike Leach.

Here’s the CFP Top 25 in Full:

  1. Clemson
  2. Auburn
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Alabama
  6. Georgia
  7. Miami (FL)
  8. Ohio State
  9. Penn State
  10. USC
  11. TCU
  12. Stanford
  13. Washington
  14. UCF
  15. Notre Dame
  16. Michigan State
  17. LSU
  18. Washington State
  19. Oklahoma State
  20. Memphis
  21. Northwestern
  22. Virginia Tech
  23. Mississippi State
  24. NC State
  25. Fresno State
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