College football rankings: Projecting 2022 Playoff picture after Oregon, UCLA lose in Week 11

College football rankings: Projecting 2022 Playoff picture after Oregon, UCLA lose in Week 11

No. 6 Oregon had a four-point lead, was on the 19th play of a drive that gobbled most of the fourth quarter and looked on the way to another clutch Pac-12 victory against rival Washington before Bo Nix went down on third down.

Everything afterward was a blur that changed the entire College Football Playoff picture heading into Week 12.

The Ducks settled for a field goal, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. threw the game-tying TD to Taj Davis with 3:07 left. Oregon was stopped on downs without Nix on the field from its own 34-yard line, and Washington capitalized with a field goal. Nix led one last drive while hobbling, and nearly got the Ducks into field goal range before time ran out.

The Huskies won 37-34, which gave the Ducks a second loss and knocked them out of the CFP picture. The implications extended from the Pac-12 to the SEC, too.

The Pac-12 saw two teams in playoff contention fall in Week 11, taking some of the shine off next week’s USC-UCLA showdown after the Bruins were upset by Arizona in a 37-34 stunner. No. 8 USC is the conference’s last one-loss team and best hope to break a playoff drought that extends back to 2016.

Now, the third set of CFP rankings likely will feature three SEC teams in the top six. Georgia will keep its No. 1 spot, Tennessee is a firm No. 5 and two-loss LSU will bump up to the No. 6 spot. Even two-loss Alabama could be in the top 10 despite no obvious playoff path.

Four unbeaten teams remain in the FBS, and No. 4 TCU is very much in business after a 17-10 victory at No. 18 Texas.

The third College Football Playoff rankings will be unveiled Tuesday. Here is an early look at what that top 10 might look like heading into Week 12:

College football rankings 2022

Four in College Football Playoff

1. Georgia (10-0)

Remaining schedule: at Kentucky, vs. Georgia Tech

Georgia pulled away in the second half of a 45-19 road victory against Mississippi State. Georgia led 17-12 at halftime, and Stetson Bennett (25 of 37, 289 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) made a few mistakes. Receiver Ladd McConkey (5-71, TD) scored on a 70-yard run, and the defense put the clamps on Mississippi State in the second half. The Bulldogs clinched their spot in the SEC championship game and remain a strong bet to return to the CFP after winning the national championship last season.

2. Ohio State (10-0)

Remaining schedule: at Maryland, vs. No. 3 Michigan

There will not be any questions about whether the Buckeyes can dominate in cold weather after a 56-14 victory against Indiana. Miyan Williams had 147 of Ohio State’s 190 rushing yards in the first half before leaving with a leg injury. With TreVeyon Henderson also out, Dallan Hayden stepped in with 102 yards and a TD. Heisman front-runner CJ Stroud (17 of 28, 297 yards, 5 TDs) warmed up in the second half, and Lathan Ransom and Jack Sawyer led a defense that totaled four sacks. Ohio State remains a strong No. 2 behind Georgia.

3. Michigan (10-0)

Remaining schedule: vs. No. 17 Illinois, at No. 2 Ohio State

Blake Corum had 103 of his 162 rushing yards at halftime in a 34-3 victory against Nebraska that pushed the Wolverines one step closer to that undefeated grudge match with the Buckeyes. JJ McCarthy (8 of 17, 129 yards, 2 TDs) struggled with the down-field passing game in the first half without tight end Luke Schoonmaker. Donovan Edwards also played sparingly. The Michigan defense was dominant. The Wolverines limited the Huskers to 147 total yards. It was another throw-back beatdown under Jim Harbaugh in the Big House, where Michigan closes the home schedule against the Illini.

4. TCU (10-0)

Remaining schedule: at Baylor, vs. Iowa State

The Horned Frogs won a defensive struggle with No. 18 Texas in a 17-10 victory that will keep the back door closed for other contenders for now. Max Duggan (19 of 24, 124 yards, TD) connected with Quentin Johnston for a 31-yard TD in the second half that built a two-score lead, and Kendre Miller (21-138, TD) was a grinder in the rushing attack. TCU’s defense limited the Longhorns to 199 total yards, and Bijan Robinson had just 29 rushing yards. The Horned Frogs have five victories against ranked teams; same as Tennessee. TCU is a solid No. 4 now, and it will take a Big 12 loss to knock them out of the picture.

First two out

5. Tennessee (9-1)

Remaining schedule: South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt

Tennessee poured it on – maybe too much – in a 66-24 victory against Missouri. Was it necessary? The Vols need style points knowing they are locked out of the SEC championship game, and they showcased their elite offense with 728 total yards against the Tigers. Hendon Hooker (25 of 36, 355 yards, 3 TDs) was efficient, Jalin Hyatt (7-146, TD) and Bru McCoy (9-111) were brilliant and the rushing offense totaled 268 yards and five TDs. Was a 58-yard pass in the final two minutes that set up a TD necessary? No, but they might do it again against South Carolina and Vanderbilt to pile up more style points.

6. USL (8-2)

Remaining schedule: vs. UAB, at Texas A&M

Freshman Harold Perkins turned in a dominating four-sack performance in a 13-10 victory at Arkansas that preserved the Tigers’ SEC championship – and perhaps CFP – hopes. Perkins forced a fumble by Arkansas quarterback Cade Fortin with 1:19 remaining, which Mekhi Wingo recovered. The Razorbacks bottled up Jayden Daniels, who had just 96 total yards and struggled to convert on third down. LSU will hold this spot in the rankings, but it faces long odds in winning the SEC championship.

MORE: Perkins overcomes flu to dominate Razorbacks

Four to watch

7. USC (9-1)

Remaining schedule: at No. 9 UCLA, vs. No. 20 Our Lady

The Trojans shook off a slow start to hammer Colorado 55-17 on Friday night. Leading rusher Travis Dye suffered a season-ending leg injury, however, and that means Austin Jones is the next back up. He averages 6.4 yards per carry, and the pressure is on through the season-ending stretch against the Bruins and the Irish. Caleb Williams (14 of 26, 268 yards, 3 TDs, INT) threw a rare interception against the Buffaloes, but he remains in the mix for the Heisman Trophy. The Trojans can clinch a share of the Pac-12 regular-season championship with a victory against the rival Bruins.

MORE: USC loses Dye for season to leg injury

8. Clemson (9-1)

Remaining schedule: vs. Miami vs. south carolina

Alabama will be ranked higher in the AP Poll, but the Tigers have a more-realistic path to the CFP despite the Week 10 loss to Notre Dame. Clemson bounced back with a 31-16 victory against Louisville in Week 11, and the running game clicked with Phil Mafah (106 yards, TD) and Will Shipley (97 yards, TD). DJ Uiagalelei passed for a TD and ran for another, and the Tigers still have a shot to be a one-loss ACC champion with a potential matchup against a one-loss North Carolina team. Clemson needs help, but the CFP isn’t out of the question.

9. North Carolina (9-1)

Remaining schedule: vs. Georgia Tech vs. No. 17 NC State

Give the Tar Heels credit. Drake Maye passed for 448 yards and three TDs and rushed for another TD in a 36-34 victory against Wake Forest. Maye is sky-rocketing into the Heisman conversation, and Mack Brown has a team that will challenge Clemson for the ACC championship. The Tar Heels have to take care of business against the Yellow Jackets and Wolfpack, and the latter will not be ranked after a shocking loss to Boston College. Why do we have North Carolina ahead of Alabama? Simple answer: The Crimson Tide have two losses.

10. Alabama (8-2)

Remaining schedule: vs. Austin Peay vs. Auburn

The Crimson Tide are the fourth SEC team in the top 10, and they preserved their slim chances with a 30-24 victory at No. 11 Ole Miss. Alabama pulled out a road victory, but the road losses to Tennessee and LSU are going to be too much to overcome unless those teams lose again in the regular season. Even then, the Crimson Tide will not have the chance to prove it in the SEC championship game. Nick Saban will likely have to settle for the New Year’s Day Six.

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