College Football Rankings 2019: Reviewing NCAA Polls Before Final Week 15 Games

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 7, 2019

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) carries the ball as he cuts back on Baylor cornerback Jameson Houston, right, during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Waco, Texas, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Oklahoma won 34-31. (AP Photo/Ray Carlin)
Ray Carlin/Associated Press

The first of 10 college football conference championship games will send shockwaves through the College Football Playoff rankings. 

Utah, who entered Friday at No. 5, lost to No. 13 Oregon and in the process fell out of playoff contention, lost a Rose Bowl bid and could fall out of the New Year's Six entirely. 

If Kyle Whittingham's side suffers the same fate as Alabama after it lost to Auburn, that means there are plenty of opportunities out there Saturday.

The Big 12 Championship Game between Oklahoma and Baylor could settle the fourth playoff participant.

The victorious team and its fans will turn into LSU supporters for at least four hours, because if Georgia triumphs in the SEC Championship Game, the Sooners or Bears could be left out. 

Also at stake Saturday is the Group of Five New Year's Six berth and a few at-large positions. 

Memphis needs to beat Cincinnati for the second straight week to earn a Cotton Bowl berth, while Penn State, Florida and others will be watching Wisconsin, Baylor and Oklahoma closely to see if they lock up at-large spots. 


Week 15 Rankings

College Football Playoff

1. Ohio State (12-0) 

2. LSU (12-0)

3. Clemson (12-0) 

4. Georgia (11-1)

5. Utah (11-2)

6. Oklahoma (11-1) 

7. Baylor (11-1)

8. Wisconsin (10-2) 

9. Florida (10-2) 

10. Penn State (10-2) 

11. Auburn (9-3) 

12. Alabama (10-2) 

13. Oregon (11-2) 

14. Michigan (9-3) 

15. Notre Dame (10-2) 

16. Iowa (9-3) 

17. Memphis (11-1) 

18. Minnesota (10-2) 

19. Boise State (11-1) 

20. Cincinnati (10-2) 

21. Appalachian State (11-1) 

22. USC (8-4) 

23. Virginia (9-3) 

24. Navy (9-2) 

25. Oklahoma State (8-4) 


Utah's loss simplified the race for the No. 4 seed. 

If Oklahoma or Baylor wins at AT&T Stadium and LSU beats Georgia, the Big 12 champion should slide into the final playoff position. 

While that will be met with jubilation in either Norman, Oklahoma or Waco, Texas, the Big 12 winner would face a tough task in the national semifinal round against either Ohio State or LSU. 

However, if the Bulldogs hand the Tigers their first loss at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the probability of two SEC playoff teams rises. 

Even without a conference crown, LSU possesses a better resume than Oklahoma or Baylor since it beat four Top 10 teams and its only loss would come to No. 4. 

If you directly compare losses, Baylor may be the preferred challenger to LSU since its only defeat came at the hands of the Sooners. 

Oklahoma's lone setback occurred on the road at Kansas State, a team that finished 8-4. 

If that scenario arises, it could mark the second time in three years in which two SEC programs qualify for the playoff. 

Since Utah's best victory is over Arizona State, it could experience a similar tumble as Alabama, who dropped seven spots with a lackluster resume Tuesday. 

If that occurs Sunday, the Pac-12 would be left with a single New Year's Six team: Oregon in the Rose Bowl. 

If Baylor and Wisconsin also fall, it would solidify Penn State and Florida into New Year's Six positions. In that case, the Nittany Lions would go to the Rose Bowl, and the Gators' spot relies on how far Georgia drops. 

That could leave the final at-large position up to whichever conference title game loser tumbles the least. 

Baylor may make the Sugar Bowl if Oklahoma qualifies for the playoff, which would leave a Cotton Bowl berth up for grabs. 

Three-loss Auburn sits at No. 11, but its fate is uncertain because of all of the potential movement around it by programs with fewer losses. 

The best Group of Five side could be determined Saturday if Memphis wins The American Championship Game at home versus Cincinnati. 

If the Tigers down the Bearcats for the second straight week, they would be the third straight program from The American to enter the New Year's Six. 

If Cincinnati avenges last week's defeat, the selection process will come down to Sunday's final playoff rankings.

Boise State and Appalachian State could have a single loss and a conference title compared to Cincinnati's two defeats.

If the three sides stayed in the same order, the Broncos would be back in the New Year's Six for the first time since 2014. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90