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New College Football Playoff rankings, with only 5 days to go

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New top 25 below. Conference title games inbound. Then it's Selection Sunday. Hey, we're almost done!

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We're only one weekend of conference championships away from the last College Football Playoff rankings of 2016. So here are the second-to-last ones!

Some of the paths are simple. Alabama and Clemson only need to win one more game each. And Bama's already won 12, something no other Power 5 team has done, so it might not even need to beat Florida; don't tell Nick Saban that. Washington's probably also win-and-in, though the committee hasn't been too impressed with UW's schedule.

Nobody really knows yet how to handle the Big Ten's representative. Either Penn State or Wisconsin will win the conference, but Ohio State's one of the country's best teams.

Two Big Ten teams in? Only Ohio State in? Champ in the Playoff, which would mean OSU falling from No. 2 to No. 5* one week after reaching 11-1 by beating Michigan? The committee explicitly values conference titles, but also explicitly reserves the right to include non-champs. We're about to learn a lot.

Here's the updated College Football Playoff top 25.

Rank Team Conference Prev week Week 13 result
1 Alabama, 12-0 SEC 1 W vs. Auburn, 30-12
2 Ohio State, 11-1 Big Ten 2 W vs. Michigan, 30-27
3 Clemson, 11-1 ACC 4 W vs. South Carolina, 56-7
4 Washington, 11-1 Pac-12 5 W at WSU, 45-17
5 Michigan, 10-2 Big Ten 3 L at Ohio State, 30-27
6 Wisconsin, 10-2 Big Ten 6 W vs. Minnesota, 31-17
7 Penn State, 10-2 Big Ten 7 W vs. Michigan State, 45-12
8 Colorado, 10-2 Pac-12 9 W vs. Utah, 27-22
9 Oklahoma, 9-2 Big 12 8 Bye
10 Oklahoma State, 9-2 Big 12 10 Bye
11 USC, 9-3 Pac-12 12 W vs. Notre Dame, 45-27
12 Florida State, 9-3 ACC 14 W vs. Florida, 31-13
13 Louisville, 9-3 ACC 11 L vs. Kentucky, 41-38
14 Auburn, 8-4 SEC 13 L at Alabama, 30-12
15 Florida, 8-3 SEC 15 L at FSU, 31-13
16 West Virginia, 9-2 Big 12 18 W at Iowa State, 49-19
17 Western Michigan, 12-0 MAC 21 W vs. Toledo, 55-35
18 Stanford, 9-3 Pac-12 24 W vs. Rice, 41-17
19 Navy, 9-2 AAC 25 W at SMU, 75-31
20 Utah, 8-4 Pac-12 22 L at Colorado, 27-22
21 LSU, 7-4 SEC NR W at Texas A&M, 54-39
22 Tennessee, 8-4 SEC 17 L at Vanderbilt, 45-34
23 Virginia Tech, 9-3 ACC NR W vs. Virginia, 52-10
24 Houston, 9-3 AAC 20 L at Memphis, 48-44
25 Pitt, 8-4 ACC NR W vs. Syracuse, 76-61

Could Colorado sneak into the Playoff with a win over Washington and some help elsewhere? Sure, maybe.

Could Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, with a Big 12 championship but without a win in a 13th game? OU has ranked curiously high at times this year, but I don't see it happening.

It's likely the Playoff race is now down to six teams, with three of them in the Big Ten.

* Everyone remembers TCU falling from No. 3 to No. 6 in 2014, but the Frogs had been No. 5 the previous two weeks anyway, whereas 2016 OSU has been No. 2 for three weeks now and just beat the previous No. 3. This would be a bigger tumble in multiple ways.

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There's also other business still to sort out.

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: the top non-Playoff Big Ten team (Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, or Wisconsin) vs. the top non-Playoff Pac-12 team (Colorado, USC, or Washington).

Same for the Sugar with the Big 12 (Oklahoma State-Oklahoma winner) and SEC (Auburn, unless Florida beats Bama).

The Orange pairs the top non-Playoff ACC team (Florida State or Louisville) against the next-highest from among the Big Ten, SEC, and Notre Dame (this year, that basically means another Big Ten team).

The Cotton is left to take the top mid-major conference champion (Western Michigan or the winner of Navy-Temple) and the highest-ranking at-large from any conference (could be yet another Big Ten team).

Here's how it'd go if the season ended before conference title weekend.

College Football Playoff
Fiesta
Dec. 31, Glendale, AZ
Ohio State Clemson Playoff rankings top 4
Peach
Dec. 31, Atlanta
Alabama Washington Playoff rankings top 4
National Championship
Jan. 9, Tampa

Fiesta winner vs. Peach winner
New Year's Six bowls
Cotton
Jan. 2, Arlington, TX
Western Michigan Penn State At-large
Rose
Jan. 2, Pasadena, CA
Michigan Colorado Big Ten 1 vs. Pac-12 1
Sugar
Jan. 2, New Orleans
Oklahoma Auburn Big 12 1 vs. SEC 1
Orange
Dec. 30, Miami
Florida State Wisconsin ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND

Here's how I think it'll turn out.

From this week's bowl projections:

College Football Playoff
Fiesta
Dec. 31, Glendale, AZ
Clemson Washington Playoff rankings top 4
Peach
Dec. 31, Atlanta
Alabama Ohio State Playoff rankings top 4
National Championship
Jan. 9, Tampa
Alabama Clemson Fiesta winner vs. Peach winner
New Year's Six bowls
Cotton
Jan. 2, Arlington, TX
Western Michigan Penn State At-large
Rose
Jan. 2, Pasadena, CA
Wisconsin USC Big Ten 1 vs. Pac-12 1
Sugar
Jan. 2, New Orleans
Oklahoma Auburn Big 12 1 vs. SEC 1
Orange
Dec. 30, Miami
Louisville Michigan ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND

I have Wisconsin winning the Big Ten, Ohio State falling due to its lack of a conference title but staying within the top four, Louisville overtaking Florida State due to Alabama's (presumed) win over Florida devaluing one of FSU's best wins, and so forth.