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Playoff tracker: B1G chaos, Bama still the 1 and UW’s chances

Rivalry Week is here. It's also the final week of the regular season and the top five teams in the College Football Playoff rankings face challenges from their biggest rivals.

With a week to go until the final rankings, keep up to date with the latest for the playoff contenders.

Dinich projects the committee's top six

In today's latest snapshot, here's a projection of the committee's top six after Ohio State's epic win over Michigan. The fact that the Wolverines lost such a close game, in double overtime on the road to the nation's No. 2 team, keeps them in the top four … for now.

  1. Alabama

  2. Ohio State

  3. Clemson

  4. Michigan

  5. Washington

  6. Wisconsin

Ohio State, Penn State wins wreak havoc on CFP

Penn State clinched the Big Ten's East division with its win over Michigan State and Michigan's loss to Ohio State, pitting the Nittany Lions against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. At 11-1, Ohio State still makes a great case to finish in the top four because it has four wins against ranked opponents, but it's still going to need some help because it lost the head-to-head result to Penn State. If the Nittany Lions win the Big Ten, they would have the edge over Ohio State in two of the committee's tiebreakers they consult when resumes are comparable. PSU doesn't have the league title yet, though, so a gap will likely remain between it and OSU on Tuesday. Michigan's playoff hopes took a huge hit with the loss, but because it was a double overtime loss on the road to the No. 2 team in the country, it's possible the Wolverines don't drop out of the top four entirely this week because their resume still has three wins against top 10 teams and that might still trump Washington's strength of schedule. Because a two-loss Big Ten champion is now guaranteed, though, it further strengthens Washington's case if the Huskies can finish as a one-loss Pac-12 champ.

Bama still the 1

Alabama avoided any scare from Auburn in the Iron Bowl and is the only undefeated Power 5 team remaining heading into championship week. The Tide should remain the selection committee's clear-cut No. 1 — about the only thing that's certain heading into Tuesday's top four. Alabama will face Florida in the SEC title game.

How Saturday affects the Big 12's chances

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are off this week, but they got a little bit of a boost from the outcomes in the Big Ten, which is now guaranteed to have a two-loss conference champion in either Penn State or Wisconsin. It's good news for the Big 12 because its champion will then be compared against a two-loss Big Ten champ instead of a one-loss Ohio State or Michigan champ. It would also help, though, if Washington or Clemson lost again.

UW kicks off Rivalry Week with CFP statement

No. 5 Washington made a strong statement with a 45-17 win over No. 23 Washington State in the Apple Cup, and the Huskies will get another excellent opportunity to impress the College Football Playoff selection committee in the Pac-12 title game on Friday against either Colorado or USC, either of which will be highly ranked.

If the Huskies win the Pac-12 at 12-1 with a strong finish, it's difficult to imagine the committee would bypass them in favor of a two-loss team or a team that didn't win its conference title. Further, there is the PR issue that the committee wants to avoid: Leaving the Pac-12 out of the CFP two consecutive years.. — Ted Miller

Click here for more on Washington's big Apple Cup win.

Is Western Michigan in?

The highest-ranked Group of 5 champion is guaranteed a spot in a New Year's Six bowl, and after No. 19 Boise State's loss to Air Force, undefeated and No. 21-ranked Western Michigan should be the committee's top-ranked Group of 5 team this week after its 55-35 win over Toledo. No. 20 Houston also lost on Friday, to Memphis. Western Michigan will play Ohio for the first time this season in the MAC championship game at Ford Field in Detroit. If the Broncos win, they should be headed to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

Playoff impact games

Friday, Nov. 25

Saturday, Nov. 26

PickCenter

Rooting guide

If you're a fan of one of these teams on the outside of the playoff picture, looking in, here's who you should be rooting for the rest of the day.

Oklahoma: South Carolina, Penn State

The two-loss Big 12 teams didn't get any help from Washington State, which was routed by Washington. A South Carolina upset over one-loss Clemson would be nice, but what the Sooners could really use is Penn State winning the Big Ten, so they would be compared with a fellow two-loss conference champ.

Oklahoma State: South Carolina, Penn State

The Cowboys are looking at the same scenarios as the Sooners, even if coach Mike Gundy thinks his team's record should be 10-1 considering the controversial finish to the Central Michigan game.

USC: Utah, then pure chaos

Before anything else, USC needs Utah to beat Colorado, so the Trojans have a chance to win the Pac-12 title. They needed things to go really crazy, and so far, it hasn't. Washington handled Washington State, so USC waits to watch if South Carolina can knock off Clemson and hope for a ton of Big Ten upsets. Even that might not be enough, but with a second win over the Huskies in the Pac-12 title game, it could get interesting.

Brewing Big Ten controversy

There appears to be a caveat in the College Football Playoff selection committee's protocol that could keep Ohio State in the top four even if Penn State — which beat the Buckeyes — goes on to win the Big Ten.

According to the protocol, "strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and championships won must be specifically applied as tie-breakers between teams that look similar."

Here's the catch: As of right now, the committee doesn't think No. 2 Ohio State and No. 7 Penn State "look similar."

"Does the selection committee see a small margin of separation this week between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 7 Penn State? We do not," selection committee chair Kirby Hocutt told reporters on Tuesday evening.

For more, click here.

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