Nothing changed in the top five of this week’s College Football Playoff rankings. Tennessee football is still at No. 5, and after beating the Texas Longhorns, the TCU Horned Frogs are even more firmly at No. 4. However, even with TCU as a greater hurdle, the Vols are in a better spot.
It turns out that the Oregon Ducks losing did have a huge impact on UT. The major fear was that the USC Trojans, the one remaining Pac-12 team with a loss, would be able to overtake them if they won out. At this point, though, that doesn’t seem likely.
USC came in at No. 7 despite that one loss, behind the LSU Tigers, who were No. 6. Tennessee football beat LSU 40-13 in Death Valley. Meanwhile, the Alabama Crimson Tide remain a top 10 team, so the Vols have two wins better than USC’s best win.
Now, the fear was that USC would beef up its resume if it won out. That does make sense, as they have three straight games against ranked teams in the UCLA Bruins, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Pac-12 Championship game.
However, UCLA is No. 16, and Notre Dame is No. 18. Nether compares to Alabama and Georgia. The Utah Utes are in the top 10, and USC could play them or No. 12 Oregon in the Pac-12 title, overall giving themselves more top 25 wins overall.
If they did that, though, they’d have no top 10 wins, and the Vols blew out a team the committee has over USC right now. Utah, by the way, is also USC’s only loss, and that’s a much worse loss than the one Tennessee football suffered to the No. 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs on the road.
Look, all this was close, and it created the possibility that with USC playing three ranked teams to close out the year if they win out, they could maybe jump the Vols with the edge of the Pac-12 title. However, that was if they were one spot behind UT.
Being two spots behind the Vols with a team the Vols blew out one spot ahead of them makes it a heck of a lot more difficult for USC to leapfrog Rocky Top no matter what happens the rest of the way. Josh Heupel’s team isn’t completely clear of them if they win out, but they’re close.
On the other hand, TCU is an issue now, as they are firmly and No. 4, and there will still be controversy between UT and the loser of the matchup between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes. That team will likely only have one loss, and if Michigan loses a close one on the road, they’ll have a case.
That’s because Tennessee football was effectively blown out by Georgia even if the 27-13 score didn’t indicate it. As we mentioned earlier in the week, the best case for the Vols is for either Ohio State to win in a blowout or Michigan to win outright.