Hold steady: Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, TCU remain CFP top 4

Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and TCU held on to the top four spots in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night, with Tennessee at No. 5 and LSU at No. 6.

With three of the top six teams and only three weeks left until Selection Sunday, the Southeastern Conference appears well positioned to put two teams in the CFP for the second straight season and third time overall.

Georgia (10-0) and LSU (8-2) have already clinched spots in the SEC title game. Tennessee (9-1) can do no better than 11-1.

“The committee believes there’s been separation with Georgia,” said selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan, who is also the North Carolina State athletic director.

Ohio State (10-0) and Michigan (10-0) will finish the regular season against each other the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

No. 7 USC (9-1), the Pac-12’s best and probably last hope to make the final four, is seventh. USC faces UCLA (8-2), the committee’s 16th-ranked team, on Saturday.

In another key Pac-12 game on Saturday, No. 10 Utah (8-2) visits No. 12 Oregon (8-2).

Alabama (8-2) is eighth, but the Crimson Tide has been eliminated from SEC championship contention and with two losses virtually eliminated from the CFP race.

Clemson (9-1) moved up to ninth, the highest-ranked Atlantic Coast Conference team.

ANALYSIS

The selection committee not only chooses the four teams that play for the national championship, it fills any at-large spot available in the four other New Year’s Six bowls.

That job won’t be too tough this season. With the semifinals being played in the Fiesta and Peach bowls, that leaves only a couple bids that have not already been spoken for because of conferences’ contracts with bowls.

The Rose Bowl gets either the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions or the next-highest-ranked team if that champion makes it into the semifinals.

If the Big Ten can get both Ohio State and Michigan into the CFP, it could open up a spot in Pasadena for No. 11 Penn State (8-2).

The Sugar Bowl similarly gets the SEC and Big 12 champions unless they are in the playoff and then it’s the next teams up in those conferences. For Georgia, Tennessee or LSU, the Sugar could be a consolation prize.

The next highest-ranked Big 12 team after TCU is Kansas State (7-3) at 15. TCU has locked up a spot in the conference title game, but its opponent is TBD.

TCU is the Big 12’s only CFP contender, so the Horned Frogs making it into the semifinals would pave the way for one of its conference rivals to land in New Orleans.

The Orange Bowl gets the ACC champion or the next highest-ranked team from that conference if the champ is in the playoff. Clemson and No. 13 North Carolina (9-1) are already set for the conference title game.

The Orange Bowl also gets the highest-ranked Big Ten or SEC team available, which puts Alabama in play depending on how many SEC teams make the CFP. Penn State will be in that mix if it wins out.

The Cotton Bowl has two at-large spots, but one of those is already reserved for the highest-ranked champion from a Group of Five conference.

No. 20 UCF (8-2) from the American Athletic Conference is currently the best-ranked non-Power Five team. No. 21 Tulane (8-2) and No. 25 Cincinnati (8-2) are also ranked from the AAC, setting up that conference to likely nab one spot in the Cotton Bowl.

The other Cotton Bowl bid is the one true at-large that can be filled by the highest-ranked team available regardless of conference.

The likely candidates: TCU if it were to fail to win the Big 12, Alabama or Penn State. Dark horses: A Pac-12 runner-up, North Carolina and No. 14 Mississippi (8-2).

Texas State hires Incarnate Word coach Kinne to lead Bobcats

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Texas State hired Incarnate Word coach G.J. Kinne on Friday to lead a Sun Belt program that has had only one winning season since moving up to the Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

The 34-year-old former Tulsa quarterback has made a fast rise in coaching since ending his professional career in 2017.

After three years as an offensive analyst at SMU, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles, Kinne became offensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2020. He held the same role for UCF in 2021 before landing the head coaching job at FCS Incarnate Word this season.

Incarnate Word is 10-1 and averaging 53 points and 8.3 yards per play, both FCS highs, heading into its playoff game Saturday against Furman. Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word through their playoff run.

“It’s with great honor that I’m accepting the call to be next head football coach of the Texas State Bobcats,” Kinne said. “We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas. Eat ‘Em Up!”

Texas State fired Jake Spavital last week after the Bobcats won just 13 games in his four seasons.

Kinne signed a five-year contract, the school said. Terms were not immediately released.

“My goal was to hire someone with demonstrated leadership experience, success as a head coach, established relationships with Texas football coaches, and success with recruiting and developing players,” said Texas State President Kelly Damphousse. “I sought a leader with a plan to capitalize on our location in the heart of the best high school football in the country.”

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”