Oklahoma and the Big Ten move closer to NCAA playoff berths

Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire

Oklahoma was the big winner when the new college-football playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and it appears the Big Ten will get a spot despite Ohio State’s loss on Saturday.

Oklahoma jumped from seventh to third by holding off a late charge from banged-up TCU. If the Sooners can win at Oklahoma State on Saturday, they will nearly lock up a berth.

The news was also good for the Big Ten. In the new rankings, Iowa was up to  No. 4, and Michigan State had jumped to No. 5 after their win over the Buckeyes. The Hawkeyes and Spartans each have a tough regular-season finale ahead – Michigan State against Penn State and Iowa vs. Nebraska – but if they both win, they will face each other in the Big Ten championship with an almost guaranteed spot in the playoff.

That doesn’t mean Ohio State is dead, though. If the Nittany Lions upset the Spartans and the Buckeyes win at the Big House, they will face Iowa in the Big Ten championship game. A win would mean they were 12-1 with back-to-back wins over Top 10 teams – tough to leave out.

Clemson and Alabama retained the top two spots with easy wins on Saturday, and Alabama will be favored to win the Iron Bowl while Clemson needs to avoid an upset by South Carolina.

The big loser in this week’s rankings was Notre Dame, who dropped to No. 6 after an umimpressive win over Boston College. The Fighting Irish have a chance at a big win Saturday at Stanford, but with the Big Ten probably locking up the fourth spot, Notre Dame needs someone to upset Clemson, Alabama or Oklahoma.

Baylor needs as much help as Notre Dame plus a Fighting Irish loss, while Stanford and Michigan both need upset wins on Saturday and chaos in the top five.

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