College Football Playoff rankings: LSU moves up to No. 5, USC to No. 6

LSU and USC crept closer to the top four in the post-Week 12 edition of the College Football Playoff rankings.

Tennessee dropped from No. 5 to No. 10 after it was blown out by South Carolina and LSU moved up to No. 5 and USC moved up to No. 6 as a result.

The top four stayed Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and TCU in that order.

Michigan visits Ohio State on Saturday in what’s a win-and-in game for the Big Ten championship game and could also be a playoff elimination game. The loser of Saturday’s massive rivalry game could end up outside the top four on the first weekend of December.

USC has Notre Dame on Saturday and the Irish moved up to No. 15 in the rankings after beating Boston College. It’s increasingly feasible that USC could move into the top four if it beats Notre Dame and wins the Pac-12 title over either No. 9 Oregon, No. 13 Washington or No. 14 Utah.

LSU also could become the first two-loss team to make the playoff if it beats Texas A&M in the final week of the regular season and beats Georgia in the SEC title game. It’s reasonable to believe that LSU at 11-2 would move ahead of an 11-1 Michigan or Ohio State given how close the Tigers are to the top four.

USC is at No. 6 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings and could keep moving up with two more wins. (Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
USC is at No. 6 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings and could keep moving up with two more wins. (Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Clemson’s chances of making the playoff look worse than LSU and USC’s. The Tigers need losses from the Trojans and the Tigers from Louisiana to have a chance at the top four after appearing at No. 8 in Tuesday night’s rankings. With North Carolina’s loss to Georgia Tech in Week 12, the Tar Heels fell to No. 17 and won’t be as big of a win for Clemson in the ACC title game as they could have been.

The SEC is also now positioned to have four teams in New Year’s Six bowl games. Alabama moved up a spot to No. 7 and could go to the Sugar Bowl or Orange Bowl. Tennessee could also end up in the Cotton Bowl since it could stay in the top 10 with a win over Vanderbilt.

The rankings also gave us a glimpse of how the AAC title race will unfold. Tulane is at No. 19 and hosts No. 24 Cincinnati on Friday. The winner of that game will host the AAC title game. No. 22 UCF, meanwhile, will be in the title game with a win over South Florida. UCF beat both Tulane and Cincinnati this season, but the playoff rankings matter because Houston is tied for third in the conference standings and didn’t play either Cincy or UCF.

College Football Playoff rankings

1. Georgia (11-0)

2. Ohio State (11-0)

3. Michigan (11-0)

4. TCU (11-0)

5. LSU (9-2)

6. USC (10-1)

7. Alabama (9-2)

8. Clemson (10-1)

9. Oregon (9-2)

10. Tennessee (9-2)

11. Penn State (9-2)

12. Kansas State (8-3)

13. Washington (9-2)

14. Utah (8-3)

15. Notre Dame (8-3)

16. Florida State (8-3)

17. North Carolina

18. UCLA (8-3)

19. Tulane (9-2)

20. Ole Miss (8-3)

21. Oregon State (8-3)

22. UCF (8-3)

23. Texas (7-4)

24. Cincinnati (9-2)

25. Louisville (7-4)