Penultimate college playoff rankings leave questions to be answered

The selection committee for the College Football Playoff took its final practice run on Tuesday, issuing the last top 25 rankings before selection day next Sunday.

No surprise to see Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson as the top three, in that order.

The real intrigue rests in the next four or five slots, where — barring an upset in the coming days — teams could very well be jockeying for the last spot in the playoffs.

Washington rose to No. 4 and Michigan fell to No. 5 after losing to the Buckeyes in double-overtime. Wisconsin stands at No. 6, Penn State at No. 7 and upstart Colorado at No. 8.

The biggest question continues to revolve around the Big Ten, where Ohio State and Michigan failed to qualify for their conference title game but remain in the committee’s high regard.

“We’ve analyzed, we’ve gone inside this data in detail and we’ve looked at teams side-by-side,” committee Chairman Kirby Hocutt told ESPN.

So it remains unclear if the winner of the Big Ten title game between Wisconsin and Penn State will make the playoffs.

Elsewhere down the list, the Big 12 cannot be happy to see Oklahoma drop a slot to No. 9. The Sooners play No. 10 Oklahoma State in a de facto championship with neither team looking like it can make the big jump.

Also, USC failed to crack the top 10, landing at No. 11.

It all sets up for a tense weekend with top conferences across the nation holding their title games on Friday and Saturday.

david.wharton@latimes.com

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