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Texas A&M jumps into top five of Amway Coaches Poll
USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg breaks down the latest Amway Coaches Poll.
There are two paths one-loss Texas A&M can take into the College Football Playoff.
One involves Ohio State losing before the end of the regular season, which would eliminate the Buckeyes’ chances due to the Big Ten’s abbreviated schedule. While a lock for the top four at 7-0, one-loss Ohio State would not be a contender for the national semifinals and would instead land in a New Year’s Six bowl.
Ohio State’s case is weaker at 6-0, and playing seven games isn’t guaranteed given the state of affairs at Michigan. Whether the two rivals can play Saturday remains uncertain as the Wolverines attempt to manage the COVID-19 outbreak responsible for canceling last weekend’s game against Maryland.
Still, the Buckeyes have so far been given the benefit of the doubt by the selection committee — they’ve been fourth in each of the first two playoff rankings — and would still reach the semifinals at 6-0, if with a harrumph from those contenders just outside the top four.
Another door for the Aggies comes via Notre Dame’s second win this year against Clemson, which would claim the ACC championship and knock the Tigers out of contention. This would be a shocker: Clemson has reached the playoff in each of the past five years, winning two national championships.
But Clemson would be 9-2, and even if both losses were to the same team and by small margins — the Irish won the first 47-40 in overtime — there would be no justification for keeping the Tigers ahead of one-loss Texas A&M.
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The scenario doesn’t work in the other direction. Clemson beating Notre Dame would drop the Irish behind the Tigers in the playoff rankings but would not drop them entirely out of the top four.
Here’s how the top four would look today, followed by the four teams just on the outside:
1. Alabama: Due to the one-year-only schedules created in this pandemic year, Alabama is the first team in SEC history to win nine conference games during the regular season.
2. Notre Dame: The 45-21 win Saturday against Syracuse was Ian Book’s 30th as the Notre Dame starter, setting a new program record for career wins by a starting quarterback. Book is 30-3 in games he has started for the Irish.
3. Clemson: The Tigers’ 8.8 yards per play in Saturday’s win against Virginia Tech was the program’s highest mark in a regular-season ACC game since averaging 11.6 against Louisville on Nov. 3, 2018.
4. Ohio State: OSU has scored at least 40 points in 28 of 47 games, 59.5% of the time, since coach Ryan Day’s arrival as an assistant under Urban Meyer in 2017.
5. Texas A&M: The Aggies’ offense ranks third nationally in converting 54.7% of third-down attempts. The number leaps to 62.2% if you remove a sloppy 20-7 win against LSU, when A&M converted went just 2 of 16 on third down.
6. Florida: Senior quarterback Kyle Trask ranks sixth in program history with 64 touchdown passes and could pass Rex Grossman (77 touchdowns) in fourth before the end of the 2020 season. While Tim Tebow (88), Chris Leak (88) and Danny Wuerffel (114) are safe, it’s notable that Trask’s total has come in 698 career attempts. Every other Florida quarterback with at least 40 touchdown throws has made at least 900 pass attempts.
7. Cincinnati: The Bearcats are set to face Tulsa two weeks in a row, first to end the regular season and again on Dec. 19 for the American championship. Cincinnati did the same last year, facing Memphis on Nov. 29 and for the conference title on Dec. 7 and losing both times.
8. Iowa State: ISU has already secured four straight winning seasons for the first time in the modern era. The Cyclones will play for the program’s first conference title since 1912. Winning one more game would tie the program record for wins in a season. Winning two would give ISU double-digit wins for the first time.