In the end, it was status quo in college football during Conference Championship Weekend.
No. 4 Washington boat-raced eighth-ranked Colorado 41-10, pulling away in the second half because of 3 interceptions by hobbled Buffaloes quarterback Sefo Liufau.
No. 3 Clemson hung on late to beat Virginia Tech 42-35, despite being up by as many as 21 points in the second half of the game.
No. 2 Ohio State — well, the Buckeyes rested. They were the only one of the previous College Football Playoff top-4 teams not to play in their conference championship. Instead, they got to watch Wisconsin run out to a 28-7 first-half lead before Penn State came storming back to upset the sixth-ranked Badgers, 38-31.
And No. 1 Alabama was No. 1 Alabama. The Crimson Tide gave up a touchdown to 15th-ranked Florida on the Gators’ first drive, and then outscored them 54-9 the rest of the way. It was the quintessential Alabama game, too. The Crimson Tide picked off Austin Appleby 3 times, with Minkah Fitzpatrick returning one for a touchdown. They had a special teams touchdown, when Joshua Jacobs returned a block punt 27 yards for a score. Their smothering front seven sacked Appleby 4 times; it held the Gators to zero rushing yards on 30 attempts. They ran for 234 yards and 4 touchdowns, and didn’t turn the ball over.
What can we expect when the College Football Playoff committee opens their doors and announces the top four teams that will make up the 2016 College Football Playoff?
Probably not much suspense, that’s what. But with Michigan still lurking at No. 5, and with Ohio State’s quiet Saturday opening the door for Clemson or Washington to re-arrange that top 4, there’s still story lines to watch.
What time is the 2016 College Football Playoff selection show?
The College Football Playoff show begins at 12 p.m. ET Sunday. The four-team field will be released around 12:30 p.m. ET.
What TV channel is showing the 2016 College Football Playoff selection show?
ESPN will broadcast the College Football Playoff selection show on Sunday.
How to watch the College Football Playoff selection show online
WatchESPN will stream the College Football Playoff selection show online.
College Football Playoff rankings: Projected Top 25, Week 15
- Alabama (13-0, beat Florida 54-16 in SEC Championship)
- Ohio State (11-1)
- Washington (12-1, beat Colorado 41-10 in Pac-12 Championship)
- Clemson (12-1, beat Virginia Tech 42-35 in ACC Championship)
- Michigan (10-2)
- Penn State (11-2, beat Wisconsin 38-31 in Big Ten Championship)
- Oklahoma (10-2, beat Oklahoma State 38-20)
- USC (10-2)
- Wisconsin (10-3, lost to Penn State 38-31 in Big Ten Championship)
- Florida State (9-3)
- Colorado (10-3, lost to Washington 41-10 in Pac-12 Championship)
- Oklahoma State (9-3, lost to Oklahoma 38-20)
- Louisville (9-3)
- West Virginia (10-2, beat Baylor 24-21)
- Auburn (8-4)
- Western Michigan (13-0, beat Ohio 29-23 in MAC Championship)
- Stanford (9-3)
- Florida (8-4, lost to Alabama 54-16 in SEC Championship)
- Utah (8-4)
- LSU (7-4)
- Tennessee (8-4)
- Houston (9-3)
- Virginia Tech (9-4, lost to Clemson 42-35 in ACC Championship)
- Temple (10-3, beat Navy in AAC Championship)
- Pittsburgh (8-4)
Dropped out: Navy
Here are the most recent rankings from the College Football Playoff committee, which were released last Tuesday.
Burning questions for the College Football Playoff committee
No one can jump Washington … right?
It certainly seems unlikely on paper. Washington, which has been a steady No. 4 team since it jumped Michigan three weeks ago, beat Colorado 41-10 in the Pac-12 Championship. Michigan, ranked fifth last week, was idle this week. Penn State beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship, overcoming a 21-point first-half deficit before hanging on in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma ran away from Oklahoma State in the second half to clinch the Big 12 Championship, but the Sooners would have to jump a slew of teams to get into the top 4.
So, Washington is likely safe, and all the posturing and pandering the last week about Michigan or the Big Ten champion jumping in, or even Colorado after a possible upset — all those scenarios seem to be hot air.
Will there be a shake-up inside the top 4?
This is really the only drama left. The committee already has precedent for one team jumping an idle team in the top 10; most recently, Colorado jumped idle Oklahoma after Week 12. In this case, Ohio State is the idle team, and the teams below the Buckeyes — Clemson and Washington — won conference championships. Washington won in a blowout; Clemson had to hang on late against Virginia Tech. Ohio State didn’t even win its own conference.
But the most logical shake-up would be Washington, who won with ease against No. 8 Colorado, jumping Clemson, which struggled against 23rd-ranked Virginia Tech. That would mean a rematch of last year’s national championship in this year’s semifinal in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta: Alabama vs. Clemson.
Who’s in and who’s out?
There was only one upset during conference championship game weekend, as No. 19 Navy lost the AAC Championship to Temple. Expect Navy to drop out, and Temple to jump in. The other conference championship losers — Florida, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Colorado and Oklahoma State — will drop, but won’t drop out.