With two weekends left before the final ranking, college football’s big playoff loser is Notre Dame.
A poor performance against Boston College at Fenway Park last Saturday cost the Irish two spots in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, announced Tuesday.
This week’s playoff winner is Oklahoma, which moved up four spots to No. 3 after a one-point win over injury-depleted Texas Christian.
Clemson and Alabama remained Nos.1 and 2, followed by Oklahoma and Iowa. Michigan State is fifth, then Notre Dame.
Baylor is No. 7, followed by defending national champion Ohio State, which dropped five spots after a loss to Michigan State. Stanford is ninth, then Michigan.
The committee put Oklahoma in position to earn the spot over Notre Dame if both teams win out. Notre Dame plays at Stanford on Saturday; Oklahoma plays at Oklahoma State.
Games this weekend will narrow the focus as several contenders meet rivals.
The title chase in the Big Ten East is still a three-team race between Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. Michigan State can clinch the division with a home win over Penn State.
Alabama plays at Auburn, Florida State is at Florida, and the Big 12 Conference offers Baylor at TCU as well as Oklahoma at Oklahoma State.
There is even an outside chance for two-loss Stanford, provided it can close with wins against Notre Dame and the Pac-12 South champion.
The Cardinal needs to make up five positions in two weeks, which is not impossible with two formidable games remaining.
Stanford would prefer three-loss UCLA defeat four-loss USC on Saturday because the Bruins are ranked No. 22 this week. UCLA also hasn’t defeated Stanford since 2008.
The final ranking will be announced Dec. 6, although current No. 15 Navy could delay the full release of bowl pairings because it plays Army on Dec. 12.
Navy, a former independent now in the American Athletic Conference, is in the running for a major bowl bid.
In the new system, the selection committee picks the top team from the Group of 5 conferences to play in what is now being called a “New Year’s Day Six” bowl.
Navy plays at once-defeated Houston on Friday.