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NCAA Football Rankings 2018: Analyzing Week 12 Polls, Top 25 College Standings

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2018

Quarterback Shea Patterson and the Wolverines are currently inside the College Football Playoff picture.
Quarterback Shea Patterson and the Wolverines are currently inside the College Football Playoff picture.Associated Press

There hasn't been a lot of controversy in this year's polls as the college football season moves into the third Saturday in November, but that doesn't mean things won't change as the final determinations for the College Football Playoffs are made.

With just a few games to go in the regular season, Alabama (10-0), Clemson (10-0) and Notre Dame (10-0) are ranked in the top three spots in the AP, Coaches and College Football Playoff rankings.

Michigan (9-1), the No. 4 team in those same rankings, would appear to be in charge of its own fate, but that may not be the case.

If the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs (9-1) were to win out, and that includes beating Alabama in the SEC title game, it would be difficult to ignore that achievement.

One loss by the Crimson Tide is unlikely to keep Nick Saban's team out of the tournament, either. It didn't last year, and this year's team appears to be even better.

Here's a look at the latest AP rankings along with a link to the Coaches Poll.

            

Week 12 AP Rankings (Released November 11)

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Notre Dame
4. Michigan
5. Georgia
6. Oklahoma
7. West Virginia
8. Washington State
9. Ohio State
10. LSU
11. UCF
12. Syracuse
13. Texas
14. Utah State
15. Florida
16. Penn State
17. Washington
18. Iowa State
19. Cincinnati
20. Kentucky
21. Utah
22. Boston College
23. Boise State
24. Northwestern
25. Mississippi State

The Wolverines have not lost since dropping their opener to Notre Dame. They have a relatively winnable game Saturday at home against Indiana before closing the regular season with their traditional rival Ohio State (9-1) on the road.

While Ohio State lost a game to Purdue last month and struggled to beat Nebraska November 4, the Buckeyes have had their way with Michigan. Ohio State has won 13 of the last 14 games against Michigan, and if that trend continues, it will open things up for Georgia, Oklahoma (9-1), West Virginia (8-1), Washington State (9-1) and the Buckeyes.

Alabama is probably the only undefeated team that could withstand a loss in its final two regular-season games or the conference championship and still make the College Football Playoff. Alabama lost its regular-season finale last year to Auburn and made the playoffs anyway.

This year's team is far more explosive, and it would be a major surprise if a single loss stopped them.

That's not the case for Clemson or Notre Dame. Clemson appears to be in great shape after winning 27-7 at Boston College Saturday. The Tigers have regular-season games remaining with Duke and South Carolina and an ACC title game. It doesn't seem likely they will lose in any of them, but if they did, it would most likely cost them a spot in the playoffs.

Notre Dame will face an explosive Syracuse team Saturday at Yankee Stadium, and the Irish have to be careful against the 12th-ranked Orange. Syracuse has an 8-2 record, won its last four games and has averaged 46.5 points per game.

Syracuse lost 27-23 at Clemson earlier this year, and staying that close to the Tigers should give the Orange the confidence to play on even terms.

If Brian Kelly's charges get past Syracuse, they close the regular season on the road against traditional rival USC. The Trojans are 5-5 and don't appear to be a threat to Notre Dame, but nothing would mean more to USC than finding a way to spoil the Fighting Irish's season.

If either Clemson or Notre Dame loses, that would open things up for Oklahoma or West Virginia. Those teams play Nov. 23 at Morgantown, West Virginia.

Washington State or Ohio State could also make a jump, but that might require both Clemson and Notre Dame losing. That scenario seems quite unlikely.

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