Ohio State just got a promotion.
The Buckeyes have officially unseated LSU as the No. 1 team in the country this week, which means if the No. 2 Tigers can't reclaim that spot over the next two games, they probably will be facing No. 3 Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal.
Tigers vs. Tigers, anyone?
The move came after Ohio State beat now-No. 10 Penn State 28-17 at home on Saturday, earning its third win against a CFP Top 25 team this season. LSU, meanwhile, easily beat a 2-9 Arkansas team 56-20. The Buckeyes entered the Penn State game ranked No. 1 in the country in scoring margin at 41.7 points per game, but won by 11 points Saturday -- their smallest margin of victory this season. It was a season-defining win that clinched the Big Ten's East division and guaranteed the Buckeyes a spot in the Big Ten championship game.
Ohio State will face the winner of Saturday's game (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) between No. 8 Minnesota and No. 12 Wisconsin, which has two losses. It's unlikely the top two spots would change after Week 14, as Ohio State ends the regular season against No. 13 Michigan in Ann Arbor, and LSU is at home against an unranked Texas A&M team.
LSU can still finish in the top spot, though, as it can punctuate its season with a win over the committee's No. 4 team, Georgia, in the SEC championship game. That would be a better win than anything on Ohio State's résumé, but it's only part of the final discussion.
No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 Alabama held onto their positions, but No. 6 Utah moved up and is still capable of jumping into the top four over the next two rankings. If Utah beats Colorado on Saturday to clinch the Pac-12 South, it will then face No. 14 Oregon, which sank eight spots after an awful loss at Arizona State on Saturday. If the two-loss Ducks win the Pac-12, it probably would eliminate the entire conference. If Utah wins convincingly, though, it would have a shot at finishing in the top four.
No. 18 Memphis is still leading the Group of 5 race, just ahead of No. 19 Cincinnati, but the two face each other on Friday. At No. 24 is Virginia Tech, which finally gave the ACC a second ranked team to help determine the Capital One Orange Bowl.
Here's what the bracket would look like if the playoff were today:
No. 1 Ohio State would face No. 4 Georgia in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. The selection committee makes sure the No. 1 seed is not at a geographic disadvantage, which it would be if it faced Georgia in nearby Atlanta, so No. 2 LSU would face No. 3 Clemson in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Because the Big Ten champion, in this case Ohio State, is in a semifinal, the league's next-highest ranked team, No. 8 Minnesota, would then go to the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual, where it would face No. 6 Utah, because the Rose Bowl is also guaranteed the Pac-12 champion if it's not in a semifinal.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl, which is guaranteed an SEC team against a Big 12 team, would take No. 5 Alabama against No. 7 Oklahoma, as they are both the highest-ranked teams available from each conference.
The Capital One Orange Bowl is guaranteed the ACC champion, but since No. 3 Clemson is in a semifinal, it would take the next highest-ranked ACC team, which is No. 24 Virginia Tech. The Orange Bowl can choose the ACC's opponent from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame, and No. 10 Penn State is the highest-available option.
The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic would feature No. 9 Baylor against No. 18 Memphis, which is guaranteed a spot as the highest-ranked Group of 5 champion.
(All games can be seen on ESPN and the ESPN App)
Saturday, Dec. 28
Noon ET: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 9 Baylor vs. No. 18 Memphis (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas)
4 or 8 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Clemson (Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta)
4 or 8 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Georgia (State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona)
Monday, Dec. 30
8 p.m. ET: Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 24 Virginia Tech (Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida)
Wednesday, Jan. 1
5 p.m. ET: Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual: No. 6 Utah vs. No. 8 Minnesota (Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California)
8:45 p.m. ET: Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 7 Oklahoma (Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans)