This may have been the easiest week the selection committee has had in the College Football Playoff era.
Cut and paste, anyone?
The entire top 10 stayed exactly the same as last week for the committee's third official ranking, with No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Michigan holding onto the top spots. There wasn't so much as a shuffling in the top 10, in spite of Oklahoma's woeful defense on Saturday in the win against Oklahoma State.
Even UCF's move from No. 12, where it spent the past two weeks, to No. 11 was minuscule, but one-loss Cincinnati, which travels to UCF on Saturday, is now No. 24. The committee showed even more respect to the Group of 5 this week by including Mountain West teams Utah State and Boise State at No. 23 and No. 25, respectively.
Big Ten West champion Northwestern earned the No. 22 spot after being unranked last week.
Here's how the bracket would look today:
No. 1 Alabama would face No. 4 Michigan in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic because the committee won't put the No. 1 seed at any geographic disadvantage, and while marginal, Tuscaloosa is slightly closer to Arlington than Miami, where No. 2 Clemson will face No. 3 Notre Dame in the other College Football Playoff semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl.
The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual is a contract bowl and historically guarantees the Big Ten champ against the Pac-12 champ. Since No. 4 Michigan is the projected conference champion and already in a semifinal, the next highest-ranked Big Ten team would be No. 10 Ohio State. The Buckeyes would face projected Pac-12 champ No. 8 Washington State.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl is also a contract bowl, which is guaranteed the Big 12 champ and the SEC champ. Since the SEC champion, in this case No. 1 Alabama, is in a semifinal, the Sugar Bowl would get the next-highest ranked SEC team, No. 5 Georgia. The Bulldogs would play No. 6 Oklahoma, the projected Big 12 champion in these rankings.
No. 11 UCF would likely head to the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl as the highest-ranked champion from a Group of 5 conference, which is guaranteed a spot in a New Year's Six Bowl, because it played in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl last year. The Knights would face No. 7 LSU, based on fan interest and matchup.
The Peach Bowl would have No. 9 West Virginia and No. 12 Syracuse, as they are the highest-ranked remaining teams and would be chosen based on fan interest, geography and matchup.
(All games can be seen on ESPN and the ESPN App)
Saturday, Dec. 29
Noon ET: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 12 Syracuse vs. No. 9 West Virginia (Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta)
4 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 1 Alabama (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas)
8 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Clemson (Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida)
Tuesday, Jan. 1
1 p.m. ET: PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: No. 11 UCF vs. No. 7 LSU (State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona)
5 p.m. ET: Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual: No. 8 Washington State vs. No. 10 Ohio State (Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California)
8:45 p.m. ET: Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Georgia (Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans)