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College Football Playoff Rankings: Championship Weekend

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The Conference Championship games this weekend will set the stage for next week's final CFB Playoff rankings and bowl matchups.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

With only one week of college football left in 2015 (excluding bowl games), the playoff picture is finally starting to take shape.

Current Standings

Ranking

Week 13

Week 9

Change

1

Clemson

1

-

2

Alabama

4

+2

3

Oklahoma

15

+12

4

Iowa

9

+5

5

Michigan State

7

-2

6

Ohio State

3

-3

7

Stanford

11

+4

8

Notre Dame

5

-3

9

Florida State

16

+7

10

North Carolina

N/R

> +15

Championship Games and Times

SEC - #18 Florida Gators (10-2) vs #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) Saturday, December 5th @ 3:00 PM on CBS

B1G - #5 Michigan State Spartans (11-1) vs #4 Iowa Hawkeyes (12-0) Saturday, December 5th @ 7:00 PM on Fox

Pac 12 - #20 USC Trojans (8-4)  vs #7 Stanford Cardinal (10-2), Saturday, December 5th @ 6:45 PM on ESPN

ACC - #10 North Carolina Tar Heels (11-1) vs #1 Clemson Tigers (12-0), Saturday, December 5th @ 7:00 PM on ABC

Big 12 - Already in the Clubhouse

Win and You're In

#1 Clemson Tigers

Clemson takes on #10 North Carolina in the ACC Championship. Clearly, if the Tigers are able to secure the victory then they should maintain the #1 seed and be on the road to play for their first National Championship since the 1981 season.

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide

Even with a down year in the SEC (5 Top 25 teams), and one loss, the committee deems Nick Saban's team the second best in all of college football. The Crimson Tide will meet Florida, a team coming off a 27-2 beat down by instate rival, Florida State, in the SEC Championship game.

#3 Oklahoma Sooners

With the conferences' toughest opponents positioned at the end of their schedule, Oklahoma rose over 12 places in the CFB Rankings since the initial ballot was released on November 3rd, likely securing a spot in the Final Four. The Sooners have faced, and beaten, four teams in the Top 25 -- three of them on the road and all but Tennessee convincingly. Why they sit behind 11-1 Alabama, who has beaten only one team listed in the current rankings, #21 LSU, is surprising to me, but southern thinking has always confounded me.

The lack of a conference championship game likely helps the Big 12 this year, as Oklahoma does not need to worry about an upset in the final week of the season and are sole possessors of the title One True Champion. The only questions that remain for Oklahoma are who they play and where.

#4 Iowa Hawkeyes

Okay, I get it. Iowa is 12-0 for the first time in program history and play in the B1G conference. I will not take cheap shots at their program here, as being undefeated gets you in regardless of the path you took to get there. However, their toughest test lies in front of them in the B1G Championship Game (Saturday, December 5th @ 7:00 PM on FOX) where they will face off against #5 Michigan State in a winner-take-all showdown.

#5 Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State's path to the Championship has been a little more challenging than their undefeated opponent in this weekend's championship game. The Spartans had to beat both Michigan and Ohio State during conference play and played Oregon early in the season to earn the privilege to play in Indianapolis. A head scratching loss to Nebraska is the only reason they aren't already in Iowa's seat for the playoff picture.

Go Sparty!

Need Help

#6 Ohio State Buckeyes

What they need: Clemson and Alabama and Stanford to lose

It is highly unlikely that the B1G gets two teams into the playoffs, but isn't inconceivable. If Clemson and Alabama lose, then it wouldn't be that big of a stretch for the committee to slide last year's champion into the fourth slot. North Carolina would probably jump them to take the 4th chair if they beat Clemson but Florida fails to beat Alabama.

Stanford would be the Pac 12 Champion and would likely be looked upon more favorably than a Buckeye team that didn't even make the Championship game.

#7 Stanford Cardinal

What they need: a Pac 12 Championship and Alabama to lose

I would like to think that North Carolina would be impressive enough with a win over the #1 team in the nation to jump Stanford regardless of the outcome of their Pac 12 Championship matchup with Southern California (Saturday, December 5th @ 6:45 PM on ESPN), so the Cardinal must rely on an Alabama upset to punch their ticket to the playoffs. Assuming they can beat the Trojans, of course.

#8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Fighting Irish have no games left, and no hope for a national title.

#9 Florida State Seminoles

See Notre Dame.

#10 North Carolina Tar Heels

I'm  not 100% convinced the committee will move North Carolina up six spots in one week, but they would certainly be worthy of such a move if they somehow crack the Clemson code this weekend.