College Football Rankings 2018: Reviewing NCAA Polls Before Final Week 14 Games

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 1, 2018

Georgia quarterback Justin Fields (1) tries to escape from Georgia Tech linebacker Victor Alexander (9) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Athens, Ga. Georgia won 45-21. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The positioning of certain programs in the College Football Playoff poll has been thoroughly discussed over since Monday.

After dissecting every possible playoff scenario, the top teams in the nation take to the field Saturday with conference championships and playoff berths on the line.

Week 14 is supposed to be one of the most dramatic weeks of the season, but only one team in the four power conference title games is favored by less than 10 points, per OddsShark.

There's a good chance the games go to chalk and leave us with a clear-cut playoff debate going into Sunday afternoon, but one upset will throw the college football world into a frenzy.

                       

Week 14 Rankings

College Football Playoff Rankings

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1. Alabama (12-0)

2. Clemson (12-0)

3. Notre Dame (12-0)

4. Georgia (11-1)

5. Oklahoma (11-1)

6. Ohio State (11-1)

7. Michigan (10-2)

8. UCF (11-0)

9. Florida (9-3)

10. LSU (9-3)

11. Washington (9-3)

12. Penn State (9-3)

13. Washington State (10-2)

14. Texas (9-3)

15. Kentucky (9-3)

16. West Virginia (8-3)

17. Utah (9-3)

18. Mississippi State (8-4)

19. Texas A&M (8-4)

20. Syracuse (9-3)

21. Northwestern (8-4)

22. Boise State (10-2)

23. Iowa State (7-4)

24. Missouri (8-4)

25. Fresno State (10-2)

                      

All Eyes on SEC Championship

The SEC Championship controls the debate leading up to the final release of the College Football Playoff rankings Sunday afternoon.

If Alabama wins, the discussion is simple. The committee will decide between Oklahoma and Ohio State for the No. 4 seed.

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 24:  Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after passing for a touchdown to Henry Ruggs III #11 against the Auburn Tigers with Irv Smith Jr. #82 at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If Georgia enacts revenge on the Crimson Tide, the Bulldogs are in the playoff and the conversation turns to the credentials of Nick Saban's team compared to a pair of one-loss conference champions.

Both scenarios are in play because Georgia is one of the few teams in the nation capable of challenging Alabama for four quarters—or in the case of last year's National Championship, four quarters and overtime.

The last time the two sides met in the SEC Championship—in 2012—Alabama only won by four points, while the most recent CFP National Championship was decided by three points.

In their past four conference title games, the Crimson Tide have an average margin of victory of 21.25 points, and they have won each of their 12 regular-season games by more than 20 points.

Georgia's run of dominance this season is as impressive, as the Bulldogs have won 11 games by double digits, with the smallest margin of victory being 14 points over Missouri.

The matchup that will decide the game, and how large the point spread will be, comes in the trenches, as Georgia's offensive line tries to open up holes for running backs D'Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield against an Alabama defensive front led by Quinnen Williams.

If Georgia develops a rushing attack and keeps Tua Tagovailoa and the Alabama offense off the field, Kirby Smart's team will be in contention to win the game.

Conversely, if Alabama crowds every gap on the interior and forces Georgia into a few three-and-outs, the Tide will roll to the No. 1 seed in the playoff.

                           

Ohio State Will Know Exactly What It Has to Do

As one of the last teams to kick off Saturday, Ohio State has an advantage of knowing what it needs to do to impress the committee.

The first game the Buckeyes will watch intently is the Big 12 Championship Game, which kicks off at noon ET.

If Oklahoma wins, Urban Meyer's team needs to outdo the Sooners' performance in order to stand out in the eyes of the committee for the No. 4 seed.

Ohio State's playoff path would be even clearer if Texas knocks off the Sooners and Alabama defeats Georgia.

Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

In that scenario, the Buckeyes would need a victory to earn a shot at Alabama in the playoff on December 29.

While the Buckeyes could come out and play with a ton of motivation against Northwestern, there's also a possibility they suffer from an emotional letdown if both Oklahoma and Alabama win.

In that case, the Buckeyes are playing for a Rose Bowl berth, which seems like a disappointing consolation prize given the goals in front of them entering Saturday.

                  

Where to watch: College football games and related coverage are available through fuboTV.

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

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