In Tuesday’s release of the second College Football Playoff rankings, the Texas Longhorns remain at No. 7 following Saturday’s 33-30 overtime win over the then-No. 23 Kansas State Wildcats at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
With the top eight teams all winning this week, those rankings remained the same, in the following order — Ohio State, Georgia, Michigan, Florida State, Washington, Oregon, Texas, and Alabama. But with Oklahoma losing to Oklahoma State in the final Bedlam matchup, the Sooners dropped from No. 9 to No. 17, behind the Cowboys at No. 15 and the Jayhawks at No. 16. The Wildcats dropped to No. 25.
There could be movement ahead of Texas without having to wait for the conference championship games. No. 5 Washington hosts No. 18 Utah in Seattle on Saturday before traveling to Corvallis to face No. 12 Oregon State and the No. 6 Ducks also play the Beavers this month. For No. 8 Alabama, the hopes of hopping Texas prior to the SEC title game look slim with a remaining schedule of Kentucky, Chattanooga, and Auburn. No. 2 Georgia, on the other hand, has a difficult finish with a home game against No. 9 Ole Miss and a road game against No. 14 Tennessee.
Since the Pac-12 doesn’t have divisions, even if Washington and Oregon finish the regular-season undefeated, a matchup in the conference championship game would ensure that one program has at least one loss.
Similarly, the Nov. 25 game at the Big House between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan has huge playoff ramifications as a de facto play-in game because the Big Ten still has divisions for one final season.
For the Longhorns, the concern is that the loss to the Sooners looks worse with Oklahoma losing two in a row, increasing the possibility that some combination of the Buckeyes, Wolverines, Huskies, and Ducks with one loss could remain ahead of Texas in the rankings. Presuming a potential loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship game, it’s possible that the committee would rank Georgia more highly than Texas while vaulting the Crimson Tide above the Longhorns, too.
So while Texas does have some semblance of control to the extent that winning out in the regular season and then winning the Big 12 Championship game would put head coach Steve Sarkisian’s program in contention for a spot in the playoffs, it’s far from a guarantee.
In fact, here’s a stark look at where the Longhorns are positioned:
30 of 36 teams to make @CFBPlayoff at this point of season ranked in top 5 w/3 regular season games left. Lowest ranked teams at this point of year to make playoff— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) November 8, 2023
No. 13 Mich St (2015)
No. 12 OU (2015)
No. 10 OU (2019)
No. 8 Ohio St (2014)
No. 6 OU (2018)
No. 6 Michigan (2021)
Not good, Bob.