No. 5 Texas A&M still outside top four in latest rankings, but creating real buzz for potential jump

While Texas A&M remained No. 5 in the second College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday, the Aggies are creating plenty of discussion in Grapevine.

Selection committee chairman Gary Barta, the athletic director at Iowa, said on ESPN’s playoff reveal and later in a conference call with reporters that the committee debated No. 4 Ohio State (4-0) and the Aggies (6-1) at length.

“It was talked about a lot and specifically talked about in the room whether or not Ohio State goes to four or if Texas A&M flips and goes to four and Ohio State goes five,” Barta said. “A lot of discussion about that. At the end of the day, the offensive firepower of Ohio State, all the weapons they have, the win over Indiana.”

Making the comparison more difficult is the fact than Ohio State has only played four games because of COVID-19 restrictions to seven for A&M. Ohio State’s game at Illinois was canceled last week because of a positive COVID-19 tests with the Buckeyes. Another cancellation would make Ohio State ineligible for the Big Ten championship game with a maximum of six regular-season games.

A&M has three games remaining on its schedule, at Auburn and Tennessee and home to Mississippi.

The final CFP rankings are scheduled to be released Dec. 20 with the top four teams comprising the playoff semifinals.

There is not a minimum number of games that teams have to meet to be eligible for the playoff.

Barta admitted the difference in games represents a major challenge for the 13-member committee.

“Frankly, it’s a problem,” Barta said. “It’s a problem that is nobody’s fault. It was created by the pandemic. But the bottom line is the greater body of work that a team brings to the committee, the more the committee has to evaluate.”

Barta singled out the A&M defense on the conference call.

A&M has only allowed 10 points in its last two games, including a 20-7 win over LSU. The Aggies lead the SEC, allowing only 328 yards a game.

“Defense is what the committee sees and is most impressed with when it watches Texas A&M,” Barta said. “They have a heck of a defense. They beat No. 6 Florida. They only lost to Alabama.”

But Barta acknowledged concerns with the Aggies’ offense, which just produced one offensive touchdown against LSU after a 21-day layoff on a rainy evening.

“The committee does continue to keep an eye on Texas A&M’s offense … that game against LSU, 20-7,” Barta said. “When those two teams are put side-by-side this [Tuesday] morning and last [Monday] night, there just wasn’t enough there to put Texas A&M ahead of Ohio State. Great discussion, but Ohio State came in at No. 4 and Texas A&M at No. 5.”

Here are other takeaways from the second week of rankings:

— The Big 12 got a boost, although a CFP berth is a long shot. Iowa State jumped four spots to No. 9 after rallying from 10 points down to beat

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First Solar surges 13% after the solar-panel manufacturer posts a massive jump in 3rd-quarter sales



a sign on the side of a building: First Solar


© First Solar
First Solar

  • First Solar’s strong third-quarter earnings sent its stock price as high as 13% in pre-market trading on Wednesday.
  • The solar-panel maker posted a rise of nearly 70% in sales during the quarter, allowing it to reinstate full-year guidance that it previously withdrew because of uncertainty related to the severity and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • For 2020, the company said it expects to earn between $2.6 billion to $2.9 billion, as its productive capacity has been averaging over 100% at all of its factories.
  • First Solar shares have gained about 54% this year.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

First Solar shares surged as much as 13% in pre-market trading on Wednesday after posting a massive jump in third-quarter sales.

The solar-panel manufacturer said its sales rose 70% year-on-year in the quarter, and brought back its full-year guidance that was previously withdrawn to account for coronavirus-related uncertainty.

“The dedication we continue to witness from our associates enabled us to expand module segment gross margin, close the sales of our Ishikawa, Miyagi, and Anamizu projects in Japan, and increase earnings per share quarter-over-quarter,” Mark Widmar, First Solar’s CEO, said in a statement.

Video: Atos: Second quarter of next year will see ‘clear growth’ (CNBC)

Atos: Second quarter of next year will see ‘clear growth’

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The Arizona-based company earned a revenue of $928 million, or $1.45 a share, in the third-quarter, up from $546.8 million, or 29 cents a share, in the same period last year. 

For 2020, First Solar expects to deliver net sales in the range of $2.6 billion to $2.9 billion owing to a “strong fleet-wide production” with productive capacity averaging over 100% at all of its factories. 

Shares in the company are up 54% this year, compared to the S&P 500’s 7% gain this year, and was trading around $82 at Tuesday’s close.

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Tomorrow’s Top 25 Today: Michigan makes big jump as Big Ten impacts new college football rankings

The AP Top 25 voters have been put in an unenviable position in 2020 as it pertains to the teams and conferences that have waffled on their decision to play football in the fall. The Big Ten and Pac-12 teams were included in the preseason edition of the college football rankings, then removed from consideration for the first full update when ballots were submitted after the first weekend of ACC and Big 12 play on Sept. 12.

Meanwhile, the SEC was still two weeks from the start of competition, but those teams remained in the rankings while the Big Ten and Pac-12 teams lost their spots in the pecking order. Then once the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced their return and schedules for an amended 2020 season, AP voters were once again allowed to consider those schools (along with the Mountain West and MAC) for spots in the rankings. 

But something happened during that layoff and the availability of results for teams in the rankings and absence of results for the teams sidelined resulted in an unintentional penalty for Big Ten. Ohio State was No. 2 in the preseason rankings with 21 first-place votes to Clemson’s 38, but when the Buckeyes were back in the mix, they landed at No. 6 — behind a 2-0 Notre Dame squad and ahead of a 1-0 Auburn — with just four first-place votes. Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan all saw similar drops from their preseason position when they were returned to the rankings despite just two teams, Miami and Pittsburgh, having played more than two games. 

So now that the Big Ten has a full week of results, we’re predicting a course correction in the rankings with some noticeable jumps for the big winners of the weekend. Ohio State won’t be back in its preseason position of No. 2, but it should jump ahead of Georgia and close the gap with Notre Dame for No. 3. Michigan should see a big leap in the rankings after not only winning on the road against Minnesota but answering some of the big questions regarding its new quarterback. And speaking of new quarterback, the 2020 debut for Graham Mertz and Wisconsin was impressive enough to warrant a bump up to the edge of the top 10 after dominating Wisconsin. 

Indiana should crash the rankings after its first top-10 win since 1987, and the Hoosiers’ rise should provide some padding for Penn State’s fall from the top 10. As long as Minnesota doesn’t depart from the rankings, which would be a surprise given the absence of several key players from the lineup, the Big Ten is in a position to have nearly half of its conference ranked when the new AP Top 25 is released on Sunday.

Here’s how we think the updated version of the AP Top 25 will look on Sunday with Week 8 in the books. Last week’s ranking can be found in parenthesis below.

1. Clemson (1): Trevor Lawrence correctly assessed the Tigers’

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