Cincinnati in position for Playoff; Ohio State jumps Alabama

Cara Owsley/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Cincinnati moved into position to make the College Football Playoff on Tuesday night, climbing a spot to fourth behind Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama.

A team from outside the Power Five conferences has never been selected for the semifinals in the previous seven years of the College Football Playoff.

Heading into the final full weekend of games, one loaded with playoff and conference championship implications, Cincinnati (11-0) seems to have a realistic path to a playoff spot no matter what happens around the Bearcats.

Cincinnati plays at East Carolina on Friday and then meets Houston (10-1), ranked 24th by the committee, in the American Athletic Conference championship game on Dec. 4.

Before this season, no team from a so-called Group of Five conference had ever been ranked better than seventh by the CFP selection committee.

Michigan is fifth heading into its game against Ohio State that should produce the Big Ten’s best shot to make the playoff.

Notre Dame (10-1) is sixth. The Fighting Irish’s only loss is to Cincinnati.

Oklahoma State (10-1) at seventh is the highest ranked Big 12 team.

Big 12 rivals Baylor (eighth) and Oklahoma (10th) round out the top 10 with Mississippi in between.

The Sooners play at Oklahoma State on Saturday in a game that will help determine who plays in the Big 12 title game.

The final CFP rankings will be revealed Dec. 5 and the top four teams will play in the semifinals on Dec. 31 in the Orange and Cotton bowls. The national championship game is scheduled for Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.