Iowa remains well positioned to reach the College Football Playoff. All the the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes have to do is knock off No. 5 Michigan State Saturday in the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis it seems.
The next-to-last CFP rankings were released Tuesday night with Iowa (12-0) holding at No. 4 for a second week in a row. They started at No. 9 before jumping to fifth two weeks ago.
The top three teams also stayed the same as last week. Clemson of the ACC stuck in the top spot followed by the SEC’s Alabama and Oklahoma of the Big 12.
Ohio State (11-1) checked in at No. 6 this week, moving up two spots and giving the Big Ten three teams in the Top 6. Stanford, Notre Dame, Florida State and North Carolina rounded out the Top 10.
Varying degrees of movement is possible depending on the results of this weekend’s conference championship games.
Oklahoma appears locked into the playoff finishing the regular season at 11-1 with the Big 12 not playing a title game. Clemson and Alabama jump in with wins against North Carolina and Florida, respectively. The Iowa-Michigan State survivor expects to reach the Final Four.
Things could get hairy for the committee if Clemson and/or Alabama loses, especially if Stanford beats USC in the PAC-12 title game. The two-loss Cardinal could make a strong case to hop over one-loss Ohio State. And North Carolina would move to 12-1 with a win against the No. 1 team in the nation if it downs Clemson Saturday.
For the Hawkeyes, a loss to Michigan State likely puts them in the Rose, Fiesta or Peach Bowl. The Rose says it will take the highest ranked team not in the playoff. Ohio State could jump Iowa in the poll depending on how the Big Ten title game shakes out.
The Buckeyes lost on a last-second field goal at home to Michigan State. If Iowa loses by three on a neutral field to the Spartans, will it drop behind Ohio State? It’s hard to know how the committee will view it.
If the Hawkeyes were to fall out of Rose Bowl contention, their fate falls into the hands of the committee, which determines the rest of the New Year’s 6 bowls based on, among other things, compelling match-ups and geography. While the Fiesta and Peach are speculated to be the most likely landing spots, it’s difficult to read the minds of 12 people in a room.
The good news is that we’ll know soon. And Iowa still controls its own destiny.
Here’s a look at this week’s complete College Football Playoff Rankings.