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New College Football Playoff rankings are here, setting up a massive Rivalry Weekend

Only one more top 25 to go before the one that actually matters.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The College Football Playoff race is half-simple, half-complicated.

Alabama and Clemson will make their conference championships. With wins, a Playoff bid is a sure thing for each. (Bama wouldn’t even have to beat Auburn next weekend in order to make it, though Clemson better beat South Carolina).

The other two spots are where all the commotion will be, unless one we get an ACC or SEC upset along the way.

Below, the fully updated Playoff top 25, followed by some general notes.

Michigan and Ohio State both remain in the top four, and one is going to give the other a second loss on Saturday. UM wins the division with a win, while OSU also needs Penn State to lose. Any of those teams, along with the West champ (likely Wisconsin) should be considered a Playoff contender, with a conference championship, and there’s a chance OSU could even make it in as a non-champ, though we’ll never know how possible that is until it happens.

If Washington wins the Pac-12 — UW must beat Washington State and then either Colorado or USC — then UW likely has the fourth spot. If not, we have an even harder decision than the 2014 dilemma.

Here’s the new College Football Playoff top 25.

Rank Conference Prev week Week 12 result
1 Alabama, 11-0 SEC 1 W vs. Chattanooga, 31-3
2 Ohio State, 10-1 Big Ten 2 W at Michigan State, 17-16
3 Michigan, 10-1 Big Ten 3 W vs. Indiana, 20-10
4 Clemson, 10-1 ACC 4 W at Wake Forest, 35-13
5 Washington, 10-1 Pac-12 6 W vs. Arizona State, 44-18
6 Wisconsin, 9-2 Big Ten 7 W at Purdue, 49-20
7 Penn State, 9-2 Big Ten 8 W at Rutgers, 39-0
8 Oklahoma, 9-2 Big 12 9 W at WVU, 56-28
9 Colorado, 9-2 Pac-12 10 W vs. WSU, 38-24
10 Oklahoma State, 9-2 Big 12 11 W at TCU, 31-6
11 Louisville, 9-2 ACC 5 L at Houston, 36-10
12 USC, 8-3 Pac-12 13 W at UCLA, 36-14
13 Auburn, 8-3 SEC 15 W vs. Alabama A&M, 55-0
14 Florida State, 8-3 ACC 17 W at Syracuse, 45-14
15 Florida, 8-2 SEC 23 W at LSU, 16-10
16 Nebraska, 9-2 Big Ten 18 W vs. Maryland, 28-7
17 Tennessee, 8-3 SEC 19 W vs. Missouri, 63-37
18 West Virginia, 8-2 Big 12 14 L vs. Oklahoma, 56-28
19 Boise State, 10-1 MWC 20 W vs. UNLV, 42-25
20 Houston, 9-2 AAC NR W vs. Louisville, 36-10
21 Western Michigan, 11-0 MAC 21 W vs. Buffalo, 38-0
22 Utah, 8-3 Pac-12 12 L vs. Oregon, 30-28
23 Washington State, 8-3 Pac-12 22 L at Colorado, 38-24
24 Stanford, 8-3 Pac-12 24 W at Cal, 45-31
25 Navy, 8-2 AAC NR W at ECU, 66-31

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There’s still a little bit of time to make up ground.

With two weeks to go in 2014, Mississippi State was in at No. 4 and Ohio State was No. 6. They’d more or less swap places by the end.

And in 2015, Baylor was all the way up at No. 6 with a hope of sneaking in, but crashed to No. 17.

One seemingly insignificant game can alter things quite a bit. We saw this in 2014, when Baylor jumped TCU in the final rankings after beating Kansas State, thus drawing near enough in strength of schedule for the Bears’ previous win over the Horned Frogs to matter. (If that sounds like I’m making it up, no, that’s exactly how the committee described their thought process. It makes sense to me.)

Still, the closer you are to the top, the better, and time is running out.

In 2014, Ohio State had surged from No. 16 to No. 6 at this point and would still need a massive Big Ten Championship blowout win to make the field.

In 2015, Oklahoma was the team that overcame the longest odds to make the Playoff, jumping up from No. 15, but it was already No. 3 at this point. Michigan State had fallen to No. 13, but had made it back up to No. 5.

So if you’re not in the top 10 at this point, history (and common sense) say you’re playing for New Year’s Six bowls, not the Playoff.

This also affects more than just the Playoff.

The committee also matches up the rest of the New Year’s Six bowls. This year, that means the Cotton, Orange, Rose, and Sugar.

The Rose is simple: its first choice of a non-Playoff Big Ten team and a non-Playoff Pac-12 team. Same for the Sugar with the Big 12 and SEC.

The Orange pairs the top non-Playoff ACC team against the top Big Ten or SEC team not in any of the above games. (Notre Dame also has a tie to this game, but the Irish might not be making any bowls this year, period.)

The Cotton is left to take the top mid-major conference champion and the highest-ranking at-large from any conference.

Here's how I think it'll all turn out (I'll update that shortly, now that rankings are out).

Here's how it'd look if the season ended right now.

Peach Bowl semifinal: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Clemson

Fiesta Bowl semifinal: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Michigan

Rose Bowl: No. 5 Washington vs. No. 6 Wisconsin

Sugar Bowl: No. 8 Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Auburn

Orange Bowl: No. 7 Penn State vs. No. 11 Louisville

Cotton Bowl No. 9 Colorado vs. No. 21 Western Michigan*

* Houston isn't eligible for the mid-major bid, since it'll finish behind Navy in the AAC standings, and Boise State needs Wyoming to lose to New Mexico. Therefore, WMU is still the mid-major leader.