Ohio State moves into CFP position; Cincinnati 5th in rankings

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No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Cincinnati all moved up one spot behind No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama in the second College Football Playoff rankings, which were released Tuesday night.

Two Southeastern Conference teams sat atop the ranking for a second straight week, but after Michigan State lost last weekend, at least one spot in the top four was certain to change.

The CFP selection committee simply bumped up the Ducks, Buckeyes and Bearcats and dropped Michigan State to No. 7 behind No. 6 Michigan.

“It’s worth noting that teams ranked two through six all won, but the committee just didn’t see a separation,” committee chairman and Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said.

The Spartans beat the Wolverines 37-33 just two weeks ago, but the head-to-head result didn’t carry the debate with the committee.

“The Michigan-Michigan State discussion started last week,” Barta said. “The committee went back and forth. Michigan, statistically, is probably a more complete team.”

For the second straight week, Cincinnati set a new mark for best ranking for a team outside the Power Five conferences. The Bearcats were sixth in the first rankings.

Unbeaten Oklahoma remained at No. 8 and Notre Dame and Oklahoma State rounded out the top 10.

There are three more regular-season rankings before the CFP selection committee sets the semifinal matchups and other New Year’s Six bowls with its final Top 25 on Dec. 5.

The College Football Playoff semifinals will be played at the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31.

The national championship game is scheduled for Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.

TAKEAWAYS

BOOMER

The Sooners and the Big 12 have quite a bit of ground to make up, but will have plenty of fuel left on the schedule to get a boost.

Oklahoma’s next three are against Baylor, the committee’s No. 13 team, Iowa State (unranked but 6-3), and Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have already split games with Baylor and Iowa State.

“The committee noted, as probably anybody who has been watching Oklahoma, the quarterback change to Caleb Williams has changed that team,” Barta said.

The freshman Williams took over for Spencer Rattler four games ago an Oklahoma’s offense has taken off since.

No unbeaten Power Five conference champion has ever been left out of the playoff and it is doubtful the Sooners would be the first.

The Sooners have also taken this path to the playoff. In 2015, they were 12th in the rankings at this point and made the field. In 2019, they were 10th at this point and got in.

Though it should be noted that in both those season, Oklahoma had already lost a game at this point.

EYES ON THE IRISH

So far Notre Dame’s impact on the rankings has mostly been felt in how beating the Fighting Irish (8-1) has boosted Cincinnati.

Don’t count the Irish out yet.

Assuming they win out, and they will be favored on all of their remaining games (at Virginia, vs. Georgia Tech, at Stanford), the Irish at 11-1 could become an interesting team if the Big Ten and Big 12 teams cannibalize each other and Georgia clears out the rest of the SEC.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.