College Football Playoff Rankings: Penn State tops Florida, putting major bowl at risk

By Adam Silverstein
November 26, 2019
College Football Playoff Rankings: Penn State tops Florida, putting major bowl at risk

Image Credit: Twitter / GatorsFB

The fourth edition of the College Football Playoff Rankings were released on Tuesday night, and it was not good news for the Florida Gators. After weeks of being the top-ranked two-loss team in the nation, Florida remained at No. 11 in the rankings topped by the Penn State Nittany Lions at No. 10. As such — and considering the position of teams ahead of them — a potential New Year’s Six bowl berth is now at risk of falling through for a team that has only lost to the best the nation has to offer.

Florida and Penn State are basically battling for a berth in the Cotton Bowl. With LSU or Georgia a sure-fire bet to be in the CFP, the loser of the SEC Championship Game headed to the Sugar Bowl and Alabama basically guaranteed a New Year’s Six berth (the CFP Rankings are set up for either Big 12 champion Oklahoma or Pac-12 champion Utah to jump Bama, assuming either or both win their respective title games), that leaves an one additional at-large bid for one of the two teams.

It looked like the Gators were a shoe-in for that spot due to the quality and circumstance of their losses, but the Nittany Lions’ resume is certainly comparable.

In the current rankings, Florida’s losses are to No. 2 LSU (on the road) and No. 4 Georgia (at a neutral site). Penn State’s losses are to No. 1 Ohio State (on the road) and No. 8 Minnesota (on the road).

What it may come down to is victories. The Gators have one win over a current CFP-ranked team (No. 15 Auburn), while the Nittany Lions have two (No. 13 Michigan, No. 17 Iowa). Of course, PSU has losses in two of the last three weeks, while UF has won consecutive games by a score of 79-6 and has not allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters of football.

Barring a Penn State loss, which is highly unlikely considering it plays Rutgers on Saturday, Florida may have a difficult time making it into a New Year’s Six bowl game. A victory for UF over in-state rival Florida State is unlikely to be enough to boost it ahead of PSU, though you never know.

Most of the New Year’s Six bowls have conference tie-ins. With some combination of Alabama and Georgia taking up the SEC’s spot in the Sugar Bowl and a likely spot in the Orange Bowl, that leaves one at-large bid for a Power Five team (Cotton Bowl).

Assuming the higher-rated teams win their respective games and Oklahoma is vaulted into the CFP, current projections call for Georgia vs. Baylor in the Sugar Bowl (SEC vs. Big 12), Minnesota or Penn State vs. Oregon or Utah in the Rose Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-12), the ACC Championship Game loser vs. Alabama in the Orange Bowl (ACC vs. SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame) and the top-ranked Group of Five team vs. the next-highest rated at large team (Utah or Penn State, as of now) in the Cotton Bowl. A Utah CFP berth would not change much for UF as Oklahoma and Baylor would filter down.

Should Utah fall to Oregon, which is only three spots below Florida, the Ducks could also potentially jump the Gators and keep the Utes ahead of them as well. Same with Oklahoma falling to Baylor as it is unlikely the Bears would jump into the CFP. The key is that UF will not have a game to give it a chance to move up during championship week. Losses by Ohio State or Clemson would only push Florida further back.

In other words, the Gators definitely need help to make it to a New Year’s Six bowl now, but given the committee’s decision on Tuesday night, the exact help they will need is far from clear. Perhaps Rivalry Week will clarify the picture, but Florida may simply be sitting around on Selection Sunday hoping the right teams have lost to allow it to sneak into the final spot. That’s not necessarily

Let’s take a look at the updated CFP Rankings.

1. Ohio State (11-0)
2. LSU (11-0)
3. Clemson (11-0)
4. Georgia (10-1)
5. Alabama (10-1)
6. Utah (10-1)
7. Oklahoma (10-1)
8. Minnesota (10-1)
9. Baylor (10-1)
10. Penn State (9-2)
11. Florida (9-2)
12. Wisconsin (9-2)
13. Michigan (9-2)
14. Oregon (9-2)
15. Auburn (8-3)
16. Notre Dame (9-2)
17. Iowa (8-3)
18. Memphis (10-1)
19. Cincinnati (10-1)
20. Boise State (10-1)
21. Oklahoma State (8-3)
22. USC (8-4)
23. Iowa State (7-4)
24. Virginia Tech (8-3)
25. Appalachian State (10-1)

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