Yet another team has fallen out of College Football Playoff contention — and Ohio State couldn’t be happier about it.
Mere hours after the Buckeyes demolished Michigan State 56-7, Oregon — the one team that can claim a head-to-head victory over Ryan Day and Co. — suffered its second defeat of the season, a 38-7 loss at No. 23 Utah.
With the troublesome Ducks out of the way, Ohio State now is in complete control of its destiny (though you could argue the Buckeyes claimed that ability following their win over the Spartans). If Ohio State beats Michigan and wins the Big Ten championship game a week later, it’s in the playoff. No more worrying about that Week 2 loss to Oregon.
Ohio State isn’t the only team that was happy about Oregon’s loss, either. Sporting News breaks down who can most benefit from their loss at Utah:
Rankings reflect Week 12 College Football Playoff top 25
Previous rank: 2
Alabama wasn’t dominant in a 42-35 win over No. 21 Arkansas, but did enough to remain in playoff contention for another week. The Crimson Tide have to win out from here to get in the playoff, beating Auburn in Week 13 and turning around to play Georgia in the SEC championship game. Alabama could drop a spot to No. 3 considering how great Ohio State looked on Saturday, but that ultimately won’t matter, as the conference title game will determine whether it gets in the playoff.
Here’s something to consider: With Oregon’s loss, it sets up the potential for a two-loss Alabama to sneak into the playoff as a 4-seed. The Crimson Tide need help for that to happen, such as both Oklahoma teams losing one more game. If it came down to it, would the selection committee dare to put Nick Saban and Co. in the playoff over an undefeated Cincinnati team?
Ohio State (10-1)
Previous rank: 4
Ohio State no longer has to deal with Oregon’s looming shadow. With the Ducks’ loss on Saturday, Ohio State is now completely in control of its destiny for the playoff. The same is also true of the Buckeyes’ Big Ten title aspirations, though that was already the case. As for rankings, they will definitely move up one spot. They could also move up leap Alabama to usurp its No. 2 ranking, considering the disparity in how those teams played in Week 12.
Previous rank: 5
The Bearcats should be happy to see Oregon out of the way — one less team for them to deal with in the final playoff push. They laid it on thick against unranked SMU on Saturday, beating them 48-14 on senior day. That could have been an attempt to win some style points with the committee, but only time will tell whether they give Cincinnati some respect in the latest set of rankings. If the Bearcats rank No. 4 in the latest rankings, there’s a good chance they can actually compete for a playoff berth. If the committee moves Michigan up over Cincinnati, that could be an early sign they’ll try to leave the Bearcats out.
Previous rank: 6
Oregon’s loss won’t have too much bearing on Michigan. Like Ohio State, it controls its own destiny: A win over the Buckeyes and ensuing victory in the Big Ten championship game would ensure its entry into the playoff. For now, Michigan will enjoy the ratings bump and move to No. 5 — or No. 4 — in the next set of rankings. The Wolverines didn’t look ahead to “The Game” next week, putting on a clinic against Maryland in a 59-18 win.
The Wolverines are in much the same boat as Alabama. Win out, and you’re in. Lose, and you’re out. Pretty simple stuff.
Notre Dame (10-1)
Previous rank: 8
The Fighting Irish are still quietly taking care of business on the fringe of the playoff discussion, and should move up two spots to become the second team out of the playoff following Michigan State and Oregon’s loss. That said, the Fighting Irish still need a lot to happen if they want to get in the playoff. To that end, they’ll root for an Alabama loss in the SEC championship game; Michigan vs. Ohio State will take care of another team. But that loss to Cincinnati still looms large, creating the question: Does Notre Dame want Cincy to win out (making the loss look better) or lose, potentially damaging its resume but freeing up another spot in front of it?
Oklahoma State (9-1)
Previous rank: 9
The Cowboys blanked Texas Tech 23-0, setting them up to move to No. 7 in the latest polls. That will set them up to take on Oklahoma in a battle of one-loss teams in Bedlam. Oklahoma State has clinched a spot already in the Big 12 championship game; if Baylor wins next week vs. Texas Tech, then the Bears would be the Cowboys’ opponent in the conference championship game if OSU wins Bedlam. Would a win over two top-15 teams in consecutive weeks be enough to sway the committee to favor Oklahoma State? It’s certainly possible, though the Big 12 hasn’t exactly been highly thought of thus far in the season.
Oklahoma State would still like some insurance for a potential playoff berth. They got that with Oregon’s loss, but will also root for Georgia to eliminate Alabama in the SEC championship. How would Oklahoma State stack up to an undefeated Cincinnati team?
Previous rank: 3
The Ducks’ season is over as far as the playoff is concerned. No two-loss team has made the playoff in its eight-year history, and the Ducks won’t be the first to reverse that particular historical trend. The good news is that Oregon can get another shot at Utah in the Pac-12 championship game: The Utes secured their bid with the win on Saturday. The Ducks need only to beat Oregon State next week to get a chance at revenge and the Pac-12 championship.
Rankings-wise, Oregon’s loss was bad enough that it should fall several spots (remember, the Utes jumped out to a commanding 28-0 lead at halftime). It’s feasible the Ducks fall behind Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor in the latest rankings, though they should still remain among the top 15 teams.