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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, November 08, 2017 1:00 am

Top 4 maintain CFP spots

Miami moves up before taking on Irish on Saturday

RALPH D. RUSSO | Associated Press

With three games matching teams in the selection committee's top 10, the College Football Playoff race could become a lot clearer on Saturday.

Or more muddled.

Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson held their spots in the top four of the selection committee rankings Tuesday night, and unbeaten Miami moved up three spots to No. 7 before its showdown with the Irish.

Oklahoma remained fifth and TCU moved up to sixth. The Sooners and Horned Frogs play a key Big 12 game on Saturday, with the winner taking sole possession of first place in the conference.

Notre Dame visits the Hurricanes on Saturday night, and Georgia is at Auburn, which came in 10th.

After Miami in the rankings, unbeaten Wisconsin was No. 8, the highest-ranked Big Ten team. The Hurricanes jumped over Wisconsin after beating Virginia Tech handily last Saturday. The Badgers pulled away late in a rout of Indiana.

Selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt, Texas Tech's athletic director, said the committee was impressed by the Hurricanes' most convincing win of the season against a “solid” Virginia Tech team.

“That strengthened their résumé more than, I would say, Wisconsin strengthened their résumé with a win over a three-win Indiana team,” Hocutt said.

Washington, the highest-ranked Pac-12 team, is ninth and Auburn is 10th.

No. 14 Penn State and No. 15 Ohio State fell out of the top 10 after losses last week.

UCF was 18th, the highest-ranked team from outside the Power Five conferences. The highest-ranked conference champion from the Group of Five leagues is guaranteed a spot in one of the New Year's Six Bowls, and the American Athletic Conference is in prime position to grab that bid, likely to the Peach or Fiesta bowl.

UCF is unbeaten and leading the American's East Division, and Memphis, ranked 22nd, is in the first in the AAC West. No other Group of Five conferences are represented in the selection committee's rankings this week.

How each of the top four teams get into the semifinals:

Georgia (9-0) and Alabama (9-0) – Win the Southeastern Conference. Both the Bulldogs and Tide can likely afford a loss before getting to Atlanta on Dec. 2 as long they win that day. If both are 12-0 going into the title game, the loser looks like a good bet to get in, too, depending on how that game goes. But it's no guarantee.

Notre Dame (8-1) – The Irish should roll in with no issues if they win out and are probably out if they lose for a second time. Simple.

Clemson (8-1) – The Tigers have to like their chances if they win out, although they could use some help from their fellow Atlantic Coast Conference teams.