New Playoff Top 25: What We Learned

New Playoff Top 25: What We Learned

Wisconsin: Win and you're in 5. The Badgers defeated the Golden Gophers 31-0. A Tigers loss in the SEC title game makes things more hard, but doesn't automatically knock Alabama out of the running.

The national semifinals are set for January 1, at 4pm at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, and at 7:45 the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

The next two teams are No. 5 Alabama (11-1) and No. 6 Georgia (11-1). There are eight teams that appear to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs: Clemson, Auburn, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Alabama, Georgia, Miami and Ohio State. The Sooners have wins over No. 8 Ohio State, No. 11 TCU and No. 19 Oklahoma State, but the committee has been reluctant to show the Sooners - and their mediocre defense - total respect, clearly preferring Clemson ... and now a two-loss Auburn.

"Very little separation in the committee's eyes between teams 5 through 8", Hocutt said. That loss dropped the Hurricanes from No. 2 to No. 7, and their only hope at getting back into the top four begins with a win in Saturday's ACC title game against Clemson. Auburn (10-2) is number two and Oklahoma (11-1) is third. The intrigue would start if Oklahoma and/or Wisconsin lose.

"The committee will also look at quality wins and the skeptics against Alabama could argue that the Crimson Tide's schedule was rather light in 2017 with their only marquee wins coming against LSU and Mississippi State". As much as it may pain Tide fans, it will be better for the Tide if Auburn is not one of those teams.

Trojans have won 38 Pac-12 titles, by far the most in the conference, but none since 2008 before the league expanded from 10 to 12 teams. 1 team in a span of three weeks as well as the conference championship.

Clemson's resume is heavy with victories against winning teams, including beating Auburn back in September. The Tigers are viewed as a more complete team than Oklahoma, they beat Auburn and the committee has partially excused the loss to Syracuse because of the injury to QB Kelly Bryant.

Credit Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Credit Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The only thing the other potential two-loss contenders, such as Ohio State, TCU or Southern California, would have on Clemson is a conference title. The defending national champions enter the ACC championship game with just one loss. The Tigers might have some cushion.

The other three bowls have no contractual obligations, though one spot is reserved for the highest-ranked champion from the Group of Five conferences.

Hate is a strong word.

"I think this team deserves the opportunity to get in the playoff by what they've been able to accomplish and what they've been able to do", Saban said postgame.

Where it gets unclear is No. 11 TCU (10-2), No. 13 Washington (10-2) and maybe No. 15 Notre Dame (9-3).

That ranking prompted this tweet from UCF athletic director Danny White: "You've got to be kidding me!"