Week 12 was a “throw it out, just get a W” type of week, with each of the top four teams watching situations too close for comfort in their games.

With all four won outrageously, little should change on Tuesday at 7:00 pm ET when the College Football Playoff selection committee announces its fourth of six rankings. No. 1 in Georgia, No. 2 in Ohio State, No. 3 in Michigan, and No. 4 in TCU should be firmly at the top as the nation’s only undefeated teams.

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The #5 spot will be the most interesting as one-loss USC and two-loss LSU could see Tennessee replace after the Vols’ stunning 63-38 loss to unranked South Carolina on Saturday night.

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There is only one game left in the regular season before the top contenders have a chance to mark their resume with a conference title. No game in Week 13 will have a bigger impact on Selection Day than The Game, the annual game between Ohio and Michigan that will determine the winner of the Big Ten East Division.

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However, what the committee will reveal on Tuesday night will give more hints as to how the group will sort things out on selection day. Here’s what to look out for, along with Adam Rittenberg’s argument that USC ranks higher than LSU and Sportzshala’s top four college football reporters.

Who is number 5?

LSU will remain the highest-ranked team on the committee with two losses, but while the Tigers beat UAB 41-10, USC clinched a spot in the Pac-12 Championship game with an instant classic 48-45 against the No. 1 contender. 16 UCLA. The Bruins are now three losses and will drop in the new rankings, but they should still be USC’s top 25 CFP win. According to Sportzshala’s record strength metric, USC is ranked 9th and still looks up to 8th LSU.

The selection committee isn’t looking ahead, so while USC still has two opportunities to impress the committee in games against Notre Dame and the Pac-12 championship, the Trojans may not have done enough to usurp LSU yet. USC’s best victories are over Oregon State and UCLA. LSU’s best victories have been over Alabama and Ole Miss, who have lost three of their last four. LSU’s 40-13 home loss to Tennessee now looks even worse. If USC jumps LSU for that No. 5 spot, the underdog Ohio State-Michigan and the Clemson Tigers should be concerned.

Does the loser of the Game have a chance?

The climb will look more difficult if USC takes fifth place on Tuesday – and if TCU moves Michigan to 3rd. The committee determined last week that Georgia had seceded from the rest of the country, but Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 were discussed before the committee finally approved the status quo. Will TCU’s second road win, even though it’s not the Frogs’ best performance, make a difference? If TCU beats Michigan, it will put more pressure on the Wolverines to win on Saturday. Michigan’s out-of-conference lineup of home games against Colorado State, Hawaii and the University of California, Connecticut was the second weakest in the FBS, according to Sportzshala analysts.

With Tennessee’s defeat, the Big Ten have the best chance of sending multiple teams to the CFP. According to the Allstate Playoff Predictor, the Big Ten have a 67% chance of having multiple teams, while the SEC has a 29% chance. However, the reality on the committee floor is that Ohio State has a better chance than Michigan of finishing second in the Eastern Division due to its victory over Notre Dame. A Buckeyes victory over the Irish should look better than what USC does on Saturday with their rival, because if the Trojans get the upper hand and win the Pac-12, that common opponent will be a factor in the debate.

Will Clemson end the season with two top 25 opponents?

No. 9, Clemson, who has suffered one loss, is currently stuck behind LSU and Alabama, who have suffered two losses. Will Clemson also look at Tennessee with two losses?! This clearly indicates that Clemson is in a precarious position. According to the track record, Clemson, who occupies 7th place, is inferior to 6th in Tennessee.

However, the Tigers need help, and they could get it on Tuesday if South Carolina, with four losses, makes it into the CFP top 25 after a resounding loss to Tennessee. Of course, that will only help if Clemson beats his state rival on Saturday. Clemson’s best win so far is Florida’s No. 19, followed by North Carolina’s No. 24, but the Wolf Pack lost a second game in a row on Saturday in Louisville and should fall out of the rankings on Tuesday.

That leaves the 13th pick in North Carolina to face Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.

How far will the Tar Heels fall with two losses after an embarrassing 21-17 loss to Georgia Tech (5-6)? Clemson’s victory over the Tar Heels won’t impress the committee as much as the opportunities TCU and USC will have in their conference title games.


What the committee will and should do

The top four teams in the CFP rankings survived Week 12 despite facing varying degrees of adversity. The committee is unlikely to change the order, so the real intrigue comes down to No. 5 after Tennessee’s historic unranked defeat in South Carolina. With the exception of Georgia, Tennessee appeared to have the safest route to the CFP until Saturday evening. Vols will drop in the rankings on Tuesday night, but which team will replace them in fifth place? This leads to our weekly debate.

What the CFP selection committee will do: Put LSU fifth above USC

What the CFP Admissions Committee must do: Place USC in fifth place above LSU.

In the opening rankings, USC was ahead of LSU, but the teams changed after LSU’s dramatic victory over Alabama. LSU stayed one place ahead of USC in last week’s brief and did nothing to damage its reputation on Saturday night, pulling away from UAB in the second quarter to take a 41-10 win. The committee is expected to simply give up the state of Tennessee and move it to LSU and USC in that order.

But how should USC be treated after a dramatic 48-45 victory over UCLA at the Rose Bowl? The UCLA game featured the best in USC offense and quarterback Caleb Williams, who solidified his lead in the Heisman Trophy race with 470 passing yards. Until Saturday night, USC’s profile was dominated by victories over mostly bad teams and a decent loss on the road to Utah. The Trojans now have two notable wins on the road, over UCLA and Oregon State, who could make it to the top 20 committees on Tuesday.

To be clear, USC doesn’t have the glamor win that LSU had over Alabama. The Trojans’ best opportunities are ahead, against Notre Dame this week and, ideally, against Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. But their best two wins have come on the road, while LSU’s best road wins have come against Arkansas and Florida, two 6-5 teams that are under .500 in SEC play.

USC’s only loss to Utah is very similar to LSU’s 24-23 early-season loss against Florida State, a three-loss team that should rank in the same spot as Utah in the new rankings. The only difference is that USC lost on the road and LSU lost to FSU in New Orleans, which is hardly a truly neutral place.

USC doesn’t have a second loss either, especially at home with a 27-point loss similar to the one LSU experienced against Tennessee last month. Notably, after dismantling LSU in Death Valley, Tennessee lost their next two road games by a combined score of 90-51.

LSU’s second-best win, a 45-20 win over Ole Miss on October 22, was also discounted. The Rebels were largely uncompetitive in Saturday’s loss in Arkansas and are likely to be positioned around Oregon in Tuesday’s rankings.

It can be argued that LSU is more balanced than USC, which did not stop many infractions when not tackling the ball. LSU moved up to 20th in the national scoring rankings while USC dropped to 68th. But USC boasts the same offensive advantage, especially after the magic of Saturday night.

They are comparable teams, but USC now has a stronger profile due to what happened away – two good wins and a solid loss. LSU doesn’t quite live up to this. — Adam Rittenberg


Sportzshala reporters pick four of the best

Blake Baumgartner: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Michigan 4. TCU
Bill Connelly: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Michigan 4. TCU
Heather Dinich: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. TCU 4. Michigan
David Hale: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. TCU 4. Michigan
Chris Lowe: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Michigan 4. TCU
Harry Lyles Jr.: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Michigan 4. TCU
Ryan McGee: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. TCU 4. USC
Adam Rittenberg: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Michigan 4. TCU
Alex Scarborough: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. TCU 4. Michigan
Gender Objects: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. TCU 4. Michigan
Tom Van Haaren: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Michigan 4. TCU
Dave Wilson: 1. Georgia 2. Ohio State 3. Michigan 4. TCU