Bama leads regular prime 5; Iowa State will get enhance

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The top five teams in the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings, released Tuesday, remained unchanged, while Iowa State’s playoff hopes received a boost and Cincinnati’s absorbed another blow.

Alabama continues to lead off the rankings at No. 1, followed by No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Texas A&M. Notre Dame and Clemson are scheduled to meet for the second time this season in Saturday’s ACC championship game.

Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide (10-0) head into the SEC championship game to face No. 7 Florida, which dropped only one spot after a 37-34 home loss to 3-5 LSU. Ohio State, which most recently played Dec. 5 and has logged only five games this season, takes on No. 14 Northwestern for the Big Ten championship.

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Iowa State, which was idle this past weekend, moves up a spot to No. 6 entering the Big 12 championship game against No. 10 Oklahoma. The Cyclones, Gators and No. 8 Georgia all have two losses, but sit ahead of undefeated No. 9 Cincinnati (8-0), which has dropped one spot in each of the past two rankings despite not playing since Nov. 21 at UCF.

The Bearcats finally get a chance to impress the committee in the American Athletic Conference title game against No. 23 Tulsa, which moves up a spot. But even a victory could keep them behind the Big 12 champion and possibly Texas A&M, which is scheduled to face unranked Tennessee this week. Georgia is idle after its game against Vanderbilt was canceled because of COVID-19 and other roster availability issues with the Commodores.

Neither Notre Dame nor Clemson played last weekend, but Notre Dame’s CFP chances improved after North Carolina thrashed Miami 62-26 on the road. The Tar Heels move up two spots to No. 15, while Miami falls eight spots to No. 18. Notre Dame beat North Carolina 31-17 on Nov. 27 in Chapel Hill. Even if the Fighting Irish lose to Clemson, their profile appears strong enough to remain in the top four.

College Football Playoff rankings — Dec. 15

1. Alabama (10-0)2. Notre Dame (10-0)3. Clemson (9-1)4. Ohio State (5-0)5. Texas A&M (7-1)6. Iowa State (8-2)7. Florida (8-2)8. Georgia (7-2)9. Cincinnati (8-0)10. Oklahoma (7-2)11. Indiana (6-1)12. Coastal Carolina (11-0)13. USC (5-0)14. Northwestern (6-1)15. North Carolina (8-3)16. Iowa (6-2)17. BYU (10-1)18. Miami (8-2)19. Louisiana (9-1)20. Texas (6-3)21. Oklahoma State (7-3)22. NC State (8-3)23. Tulsa (6-1)24. San Jose State (6-0)25. Colorado (4-1)

Coastal Carolina (11-0) needed a late touchdown at Troy to become the first FBS team to 11 wins. The Chanticleers move up a spot to No. 12 entering the Sun Belt title game against No. 19 Louisiana.

USC (5-0) remains the highest-rated Pac-12 team at No. 13, moving up two spots, but the Trojans lack a signature win after having to cancel a game with Colorado, which dropped to No. 25 following its first loss of the season. Clay Helton’s team plays unranked Oregon on Friday in the Pac-12 championship game.

San Jose State makes its CFP rankings debut at No. 24 after a 6-0 start, the team’s best since 1939. The Spartans will face unranked Boise State in the Mountain West championship game Saturday in Las Vegas.

BYU and NC State are among nine teams that move up a single spot in this week’s rankings, checking in at No. 17 and No. 22, respectively.

The CFP selection committee reveals its final rankings, including the four semifinal teams, on Sunday.