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Tennessee usurps Alabama in playoff


Usually it’s one game on a weekend that shakes up the College Football Playoff picture. What about when it is four games?

That was the case Saturday when a quartet of top 10 teams that entered the day unbeaten ended the weekend with a loss. Alabama, Southern California, Oklahoma State and Penn State – No. 1, 6, 7 and 10, respectively – all now have major ground to make up.

The biggest loser of the group was the Crimson Tide, who have occupied a playoff spot since the preseason. They’ve been replaced in the semifinals by Tennessee, the team that took them down Saturday.  

One of the stories of the first half, the Volunteers are on a collision course with Georgia in less than three weeks. Even with a loss in that game, Tennessee would have a strong playoff case at 11-1 if the Bulldogs win the SEC title, especially with their defeat of Alabama on its résumé. 

The best challenges would be from a champion in the Big 12 or Pac-12, however the balance of both leagues make even a one-loss champion unlikely. Also possibly in the mix would be the loser of the Michigan-Ohio State clash, but neither would have the quality wins of Tennessee.

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The shuffling of the New Year’s Six saw three teams of those aforementioned unbeatens move out after losses – Southern California, Penn State and Oklahoma State. Alabama slides down to the Orange Bowl, while UCLA, Oregon and Texas move in. 

Those positions are set for a week but with another Saturday full of showdowns, expect more adjustments next time.

Note: An asterisk indicates a school that has replaced a conference pick.


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