NCAAF Teams
Heather Dinich, ESPN Senior Writer 335d

If the playoff were today: Alabama-Clemson, Ohio State-Michigan in semis

College Football, Ohio State Buckeyes, Washington Huskies, Alabama Crimson Tide, Clemson Tigers, Michigan Wolverines, Wisconsin Badgers, Auburn Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, Colorado Buffaloes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Boise State Broncos, Louisville Cardinals

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The College Football Playoff selection committee kept No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Clemson in the same spots as last week in its fourth CFP ranking of the season, but Louisville sank from No. 5 to No. 11, and new No. 5 Washington took its spot on the bubble heading into the Apple Cup on Friday against Washington State.

The Huskies were followed by No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 7 Penn State, showing that No. 8 Oklahoma still has some work to do -- and needs some upsets to happen -- in order to move up. The Sooners earned their first win of the season against a ranked opponent Saturday at West Virginia, but it clearly wasn't enough to sway the committee to bump OU ahead of the two-loss Big Ten teams.

The Sooners and No. 12 USC have been two of the hottest teams in the country in recent weeks, with OU winning eight straight and the Trojans winning seven straight, but they remain on the outside looking in. It's certainly possible that could change in the next two weeks, but the committee has made it clear again, in this particular snapshot, that both teams still need some help.

In the Group of 5, one-loss No. 19 Boise State and two-loss No. 20 Houston were both ahead of undefeated No. 21 Western Michigan, again underscoring the committee's emphasis on strength of schedule over an undefeated record. No. 25 Navy was also ranked this week after clinching the American Athletic Conference West Division.

Here's what the bracket would look like today:

As for the other major bowls, here's a projection based on the current ranking:

The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual gets the Pac-12 champ, which in this case would be No. 5 Washington. Since the Big Ten champ (assuming it's either Ohio State or Michigan in this case) and another Big Ten team are in a semifinal, the Rose Bowl would choose the next highest-ranked Big Ten team, which would be No. 6 Wisconsin.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl is guaranteed the Big 12 champ, which would be No. 8 Oklahoma, but because SEC champ Alabama is in the semifinal, it would take the next highest-ranked SEC team, No. 13 Auburn.

The Capital One Orange Bowl is guaranteed the ACC champion, but because Clemson is in a semifinal, it would take the next highest-ranked team, which would be No. 11 Louisville. The Orange Bowl then chooses the next highest-ranked team from the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame. In this case, it would be No. 7 Penn State.

The highest-ranked Group of 5 conference champion is guaranteed a spot in a New Year's Six bowl, so No. 19 Boise State would go to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic based on today's ranking. The reality of the situation, though, is that Boise State still needs Wyoming to lose at New Mexico on Saturday to win the Mountain West's Mountain Division. If that doesn't happen, it opens the door for a team such as Western Michigan. The Cotton Bowl would then get the highest-ranked at-large team, which would be No. 9 Colorado.

Here's what the New Year's Six could look like, based on today's rankings:

Dec. 30

8 p.m. ET: Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 7 Penn State vs. No. 11 Louisville

Dec. 31

3 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Clemson

3 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Michigan

Jan. 2

1 p.m. ET: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 9 Colorado vs. No. 19 Boise State

5 p.m. ET: Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual: No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Washington

8:30 p.m. ET: Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 8 Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Auburn

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