Irish break into top 4 in College Football Playoff rankings


By Eric Olson - AP College Football Writer



Notre Dame moved into the top four in the second College Football Playoff selection committee rankings of the season Tuesday night.

Clemson remained No. 1, with Alabama moving up two spots to No. 2, Ohio State staying at No. 3 and the Fighting Irish up a spot to No. 4.

Notre Dame and Alabama each has one loss.

Unbeaten Iowa received an eye-catching promotion, rising four spots to No. 5. Baylor is the highest-ranked Big 12 team at No. 6.

Two previously unbeaten teams tumbled. LSU, No. 2 last week, dropped to No. 9 after losing at Alabama, and Michigan State, which was No. 7, dropped to No. 13.

Takeaways from the second playoff rankings:

EYE ON HAWKEYES

One of the biggest surprises was Iowa’s rise to No. 5 after winning 35-27 on the road against an Indiana team that is 0-5 in Big Ten play. Committee chairman Jeff Long pointed out the Hawkeyes have beaten two top 25 teams on the road (Wisconsin and Northwestern), and Iowa’s strength of schedule is No. 2 behind Clemson among the six remaining unbeaten teams.

“It’s a recognition by the committee that they were increasingly impressed by Iowa and their body of work,” Long said. “Three teams lost ahead of them, so we felt they needed to move up.”

Last week Long said the committee had concerns about Iowa’s offense.

“We recognize they are consistent on both sides of the ball,” he said Tuesday. “They aren’t flashy, but they are consistent.”

BIG 12 BLUES

Barring upsets, Notre Dame’s promotion to No. 4 would cause the Big 12 to root for the Pac-12’s Stanford to knock off the Irish on Nov. 28. That could create room in the top four for the Big 12 champion, whoever it is.

Baylor is the highest-ranked Big 12 team at No. 6 for the second straight week, with Oklahoma State No. 8 after being No. 14 in the first rankings.

Some analysts thought Oklahoma State would overtake Baylor, and maybe even move into the top four, after an impressive 49-29 win at home over previously unbeaten TCU.

The committee still likes Baylor more, even though the Bears are yet to beat a team with a winning record.

“Oklahoma State had a good win,” Long said. “That’s the first piece of real strength we’ve seen from them, with that win over TCU.”

The Cowboys’ fate is in their own hands. They host Baylor on Nov. 21. The Bears play their next three games against teams with a combined 25-2 record.

THE NAVY WHAT-IF

CFP executive director Bill Hancock said the committee would delay announcing one of the New Year’s Six bowls if Navy — the highest-ranked Group of Five member at No. 20— is still in contention to be the G5 representative on Selection Day Dec. 6. That’s because the Midshipmen’s regular season doesn’t end until the Army game on Dec. 12.

If Navy is in the mix, the committee would announce the pairing for one of the New Year’s Six bowls — either the Fiesta or Peach — and one participant in the other New Year’s Six bowl, holding the other spot in that game for the Group of Five rep.

The committee would hold a teleconference on Dec. 12, after the Army-Navy game, and determine if it’s necessary to revise the Dec. 6 rankings relative to Navy.

Navy’s only loss is to Notre Dame, and the Midshipmen would remain a factor if they win at Houston and win the American Athletic Conference championship game before finishing against Army.

By Eric Olson

AP College Football Writer

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