Five biggest questions for Week 14 in college football

Note: This story was updated when Coastal Carolina’s schedule was changed to add BYU.

College Football Playoff rankings 2.0: Will Ohio State hang on to final spot?

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There is drama in college football even when the weekend lacks major showdowns. Teams near the top of the rankings have to guard against overconfidence and handle the pressure of games that could determine if they make the playoff or have an opportunity to play for a conference championship. 



a group of people watching a football ball on a field: Auburn defensive back Christian Tutt tackles Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond during the second quarter at Kyle Field.


© John Glaser, USA TODAY Sports
Auburn defensive back Christian Tutt tackles Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond during the second quarter at Kyle Field.

Week 14 offers this scenario. Three teams in the top four are road favorites of more than three touchdowns. Notre Dame, the lone team playing at home, is favored by almost five touchdowns against Syracuse. 

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That doesn’t mean there is no mystery to what will happen Saturday. Could one of the favorites get tested?

What about below the top of the poll? Texas A&M and Indiana face challenging trips that could shape the outlook of their seasons. A matchup of unlikely unbeatens will take place at Coastal Carolina. And Texas coach Tom Herman faces possibly the largest game of his tenure.

A look at the five biggest questions for Week 14:

Does Clemson get tested by Virginia Tech?

Ha. How about: Does Clemson play starters in the fourth quarter? That’s a better question than if the Tigers will be tested by an opponent that has lost three in a row, four of five and five of seven since starting 2-0. While the Hokies limp to the end of the regular season, the Tigers will be looking to put an exclamation point on every win from here on out in order to secure a spot in the playoff. Given how Clemson has historically fared late in the season under Dabo Swinney, especially after already having suffered a loss, look for the Tigers to take a big lead at halftime and breeze to the final whistle.

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Can Texas A&M impress playoff committee?

Reaching the SEC championship game is likely off the table, but there’s still much for the Aggies to play for in the final two weeks. An at-large berth in the College Football Playoff isn’t out of the question if Clemson loses to Notre Dame given A&M holds a win against Florida. But part of that calculation is that the Aggies have to earn some style points. They looked listless against LSU and now head to Auburn. It’s a dangerous trip as the Tigers can show moments of brilliance among their frustrating inconsistency. This is a crossroads game for Texas A&M that will define if this season was the

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College football Week 14 questions include Clemson, Texas A&M, Texas

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SportsPulse: Dan Wolken reacts to the second College Football Playoff rankings and believes Ohio State can get into the playoff without qualifying for the Big Ten championship game given the committee’s track record.

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There is drama in college football even when the weekend lacks major showdowns. Teams near the top of the rankings have to guard against overconfidence and handle the pressure of games that could determine if they make the playoff or have an opportunity to play for a conference championship. 

Week 14 offers this scenario. Three teams in the top four are road favorites of more than three touchdowns. Notre Dame, the lone team playing at home, is favored by almost five touchdowns against Syracuse. 

That doesn’t mean there is no mystery to what will happen Saturday. Could one of the favorites get tested?

What about below the top of the poll? Texas A&M and Indiana face challenging trips that could shape the outlook of their seasons. A matchup of unlikely unbeatens will take place at Coastal Carolina. And Texas coach Tom Herman faces possibly the largest game of his tenure.

A look at the five biggest questions for Week 14:

Does Clemson get tested by Virginia Tech?

Ha. How about: Does Clemson play starters in the fourth quarter? That’s a better question than if the Tigers will be tested by an opponent that has lost three in a row, four of five and five of seven since starting 2-0. While the Hokies limp to the end of the regular season, the Tigers will be looking to put an exclamation point on every win from here on out in order to secure a spot in the playoff. Given how Clemson has historically fared late in the season under Dabo Swinney, especially after already having suffered a loss, look for the Tigers to take a big lead at halftime and breeze to the final whistle.

QB RANKINGS: Clemson’s Lawrence makes major move after COVIDreturn

ANALYSIS: Winners and losers from the College Football Playoff ranking

SAYING SORRY: ESPN’s Herbstreit apologies for saying teams are quitting

Can Texas A&M impress playoff committee?

Reaching the SEC championship game is likely off the table, but there’s still much for the Aggies to play for in the final two weeks. An at-large berth in the College Football Playoff isn’t out of the question if Clemson loses to Notre Dame given A&M holds a win against Florida. But part of that calculation is that the Aggies have to earn some style points. They looked listless against LSU and now head to Auburn. It’s a dangerous trip as the Tigers can show moments of brilliance among their frustrating inconsistency. This is a crossroads game for Texas A&M that will define if this season was the breakthrough it has sought under coach Jimbo Fisher or another frustrating one.

Auburn defensive back Christian Tutt tackles Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond during the second quarter at Kyle Field. (Photo: John Glaser, USA TODAY Sports)

Is this

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5 burning questions as college football coaching carousel speeds up

With a pair of Power Five jobs open already at South Carolina and Vanderbilt and more to come as the college football season winds down, the coaching carousel promises to be more robust than most people within the industry expected a few months ago. 

College Football Playoff rankings 2.0: Will Ohio State hang on to final spot?

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How much more? That’s still an open question, as COVID-19 hasn’t halted frustration among fans and administrators at underachieving programs such as Michigan, Tennessee, Auburn, Texas and Virginia Tech to name a few. 

But the financial ramifications and optics of making expensive coaching moves this year, as athletic departments and universities generally are cutting budgets, are very real for schools that have had to absorb a significant revenue hit. On the other hand, optimism about regaining some sense of normalcy by mid-2021 with the arrival of vaccines could prove to be all the rationalization needed for athletics directors to revert back to the familiar cycle of big buyouts and irresponsible contracts. 



a man wearing sunglasses and a hat: Tom Herman's overall record at Texas is 30-18, which may not be enough to buy him another year as head coach.


© Jay Janner, USA TODAY Sports
Tom Herman’s overall record at Texas is 30-18, which may not be enough to buy him another year as head coach.

From NFL plays to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day.

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BOWL PROJECTIONS: Ohio State has uneasy hold on final playoff spot

Here are five questions and answers about the current state of play in college football, with information culled from eight people close to the coaching industry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic. And, as always, much of what happens behind the scenes on the coaching carousel is fluid. 

1. How many more big programs could make a change? 

The entire industry right now has its eyes on Texas, as last Friday’s loss to Iowa State felt like something of a turning point in the school’s ability to tolerate another year of Tom Herman. Four years in, Texas is better than when Herman got there but at just 21-13 in the Big 12, he’s failed to elevate the Longhorns above a group of programs who simply should not be as good as Texas. 

The issue is whether athletics director Chris Del Conte, whose relationship with Herman is said to be pretty frosty, will throw around $20 million-plus in buyouts for that coaching staff without having a slam dunk candidate in his back pocket. And that slam dunk, of course, would be Urban Meyer.

Very few people are actually in position to know whether Meyer wants to come back to coaching. He had very real health concerns leaving both Florida and Ohio State, and it doesn’t seem like Meyer can do the job unless he’s pushing himself to literal sickness. If he signals he wants to give it a shot at Texas, they’ll have to pull the trigger. But even if he doesn’t, Texas

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5 burning questions as moves start

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SportsPulse: Dan Wolken reacts to the second College Football Playoff rankings and believes Ohio State can get into the playoff without qualifying for the Big Ten championship game given the committee’s track record.

USA TODAY

With a pair of Power Five jobs open already at South Carolina and Vanderbilt and more to come as the college football season winds down, the coaching carousel promises to be more robust than most people within the industry expected a few months ago. 

How much more? That’s still an open question, as COVID-19 hasn’t halted frustration among fans and administrators at underachieving programs such as Michigan, Tennessee, Auburn, Texas and Virginia Tech to name a few. 

But the financial ramifications and optics of making expensive coaching moves this year, as athletic departments and universities generally are cutting budgets, are very real for schools that have had to absorb a significant revenue hit. On the other hand, optimism about regaining some sense of normalcy by mid-2021 with the arrival of vaccines could prove to be all the rationalization needed for athletics directors to revert back to the familiar cycle of big buyouts and irresponsible contracts. 

BOWL PROJECTIONS: Ohio State has uneasy hold on final College Football Playoff spot

Here are five questions and answers about the current state of play in college football, with information culled from eight people close to the coaching industry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic. And, as always, much of what happens behind the scenes on the coaching carousel is fluid. 

1. How many more big programs could make a change? 

The entire industry right now has its eyes on Texas, as last Friday’s loss to Iowa State felt like something of a turning point in the school’s ability to tolerate another year of Tom Herman. Four years in, Texas is better than when Herman got there but at just 21-13 in the Big 12, he’s failed to elevate the Longhorns above a group of programs who simply should not be as good as Texas. 

The issue is whether athletics director Chris Del Conte, whose relationship with Herman is said to be pretty frosty, will throw around $20 million-plus in buyouts for that coaching staff without having a slam dunk candidate in his back pocket. And that slam dunk, of course, would be Urban Meyer.

Tom Herman’s overall record at Texas is 30-18, which may not be enough to buy him another year as head coach. (Photo: Jay Janner, USA TODAY Sports)

Very few people are actually in position to know whether Meyer wants to come back to coaching. He had very real health concerns leaving both Florida and Ohio State, and it doesn’t seem like Meyer can do the job unless he’s pushing himself to literal sickness. If he signals he wants to give it a shot at Texas, they’ll have to pull the trigger. But even if he doesn’t, Texas may be in a position where it’s just

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Are We Real? And Other Questions of Physics

Do we live in a higher being’s computer? Advanced research may tell us

Credit: Scientific American Space & Physics December 2020
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What if this life is just a computer simulation running on some intellectually superior alien’s console? Something about this idea is tantalizing to people (evidenced by the success of The Matrix films) and has special appeal for our readers. It’s hooked physicists, philosophers, computer scientists and engineers, too, as author Anil Ananthaswamy writes in this edition’s cover feature [“Do We Live in a Simulation? Chances Are about 50–50”]. What is it, exactly, that is so enticing about this possibility? The fear that we are mere puppets of a more advanced species? Or perhaps it’s the calm that comes from the idea that none of this is real anyway. Examining the nature of our own reality, indeed whether we have a reality, is the most “meta” branch of physics.

In more satisfying endeavors, journalist Daniel Garisto reviews the long history of the search for black holes, whose champions were awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics [“Nobel Prize Work Took Black Holes from Fantasy to Fact”]. One recipient, physicist Andrea Ghez, pushed her fellow astronomers and technicians tirelessly, despite doubt from the field, as her colleague Hilton Lewis describes in this issue’s opinion section [“How Andrea Ghez Won the Nobel for an Experiment Nobody Thought Would Work”]. Sometimes we have to fight for the realities we believe in.

This article was originally published with the title “Are We Real? And Other Questions of Physics” in SA Space & Physics 3, 6, (December 2020)

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Former MPC member Danny Blanchflower to weigh Scottish independence currency and central bank questions as he joins University of Glasgow

ECONOMIST and former Monetary Policy Committee member Danny Blanchflower has highlighted his intention to examine key issues in the Scottish independence debate, such as currency options, as he takes up a role at the University of Glasgow.

Mr Blanchflower, who will continue in his post at Dartmouth College in the US and visit Scotland regularly in his new role, said he was “excited” at the prospect of working with University of Glasgow principal Sir Anton Muscatelli.

The economist, formerly a visiting professor at the University of Stirling, said he would be looking at issues around independence such as what would be involved in creating a central bank and currency options. He cited options of joining the euro, retaining the pound, or forming a currency area union with the likes of Sweden and Iceland. Mr Blanchflower, who has three grandchildren in Scotland, said: “Whichever side you are on, you have to have an answer to that.”

READ MORE: Ian McConnell: Brexit-obsessed Tories must wake to US breath of fresh air, think of the young, and listen to Antony Blinken : Opinion

He also flagged the need to “make economics understandable and adaptable”. Mr Blanchflower, who is joining the economics department at the university’s Adam Smith Business School, said: “I am literally going to come to think about Scotland.”

Noting the Scottish Government’s relatively high popularity with the electorate and its decisions to make period products free and offer free university tuition for Scots, while also touching on the nation’s support for European Union membership, he added: “I think suddenly the attractiveness of Scotland has really jumped.”

Sir Anton said: “Danny comes with an unparalleled reputation and track record, and will be a fantastic addition. As we look to the post-Covid economic recovery, it has never been more important to have well-informed economic commentary and I’m very pleased that we will benefit from Professor Blanchflower’s expertise.”

READ MORE: Ian McConnell on Brexit: Tories will accept any price for hard departure – others will be paying: Opinion

Sara Carter, vice-principal and head of the university’s college of social sciences, said: “The Adam Smith Business School is delighted to welcome Professor Danny Blanchflower as a visiting professor. Danny is internationally renowned for his expertise in economic policy and will bring that experience to the University of Glasgow.”

READ MORE: Ian McConnell on Brexit: Hectoring Tories should get own house in order on Brexit: Opinion

The University of Glasgow said Mr Blanchflower is “renowned for his expertise in labour economics where he has made long lasting contributions in the understanding of unemployment, wages, jobs, health and happiness and pushing the boundaries of several disciplines”.

It noted that Mr Blanchflower, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, had been made a Commander of the British Empire in the Queen’s birthday honours list in June 2009, for “services to the Monetary Policy Committee and economics”.

Mr Blanchflower said: “I am very much looking forward to joining the economics department at the Adam Smith Business

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B/R Experts Answer Biggest College Football Questions for Week 13 | Bleacher Report

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    Alabama WR DeVonta Smith

    Alabama WR DeVonta SmithL.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    It’s the first weekend after the first unveiling of College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings, which means it’s time to begin the sprint to the finish line.

    Only three weeks remain until conference championship weekend, so time is running out to dethrone Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State as the presumed CFP quartet. But both Alabama and Notre Dame face a ranked opponent this week. A major shakeup could be on its way.

    Who will win the Iron Bowl and the big Notre Dame-North Carolina game?

    Could Clemson be in some trouble in a rematch from four years ago?

    How will the Heisman front-runners look this weekend?

    Bleacher Report’s college football expertsDavid Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller, Joel Reuter and Brad Shepardhave predictions for each of those questions and more in advance of what should be another stellar weekend of collegiate pigskin.

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    Auburn QB Bo Nix

    Auburn QB Bo NixButch Dill/Associated Press

    Adam Kramer

    The wrinkle, of course, is that Alabama will be without head coach Nick Saban after a positive COVID-19 test. (Before we dive into football #analysis, we here at Bleacher Report hope that Saban is healthy and back on the sideline soon.)

    It’s hard to know what kind of impact this will have. It seems reasonable to believe the absence of the best coach in the history of the sport would be sizable. And yet, when it comes to how this team operates—and specifically the way this offense operates—it seems likely that Alabama should be its usual dominant self.

    It is a luxury to have offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian as a fill-in. Beyond being able to power one of the nation’s most potent attacks, Sarkisian is not new to the job. (In fact, we’re probably an offseason or two away from him being a head coach in a good situation once again.)

    I just don’t think Auburn has the players or the talent to counter what Alabama is about to throw at it. To be clear, not many do. And while the Tigers have rebounded since early struggles, Alabama is a different beast entirely.

    Alabama wins big.

            

    Kerry Miller

    Six weeks ago, the possibility of Nick Saban not coaching against Georgia because of a positive COVID-19 test was a legitimate game-changer. With all due respect to Steve Sarkisian, the thought of anyone other than Saban making halftime/in-game adjustments isn’t as intimidating. And I can’t imagine Alabama would have finished that game on a 24-0 run without Saban.

    This time around, it wasn’t a false positive. Saban is definitely out for this game. But halftime adjustments won’t be as crucial because Auburn isn’t as good as Georgia.

    I’m not saying the Tigers are a bad team, and there’s no denying they have improved considerably since that 27-6 loss to Georgia on Oct. 3. However, while they have improved from OK to “might get an invite to a New Year’s Six bowl” good, Alabama

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Covid-19 vaccine: UK asks regulator to assess AstraZeneca and Oxford University vaccine amid questions

The British government on Friday said it has formally asked the country’s medicines regulator to assess whether a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University should be authorised for use.

The step comes amid questions about preliminary results from AstraZeneca and Oxford University trials of the jab, after the company and the university acknowledged that the most encouraging part of their findings stemmed from a dosing error.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he had asked the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to determine whether the vaccine “meets rigorous safety standards.”

It’s the second vaccine candidate to reach the formal assessment stage in Britain, following a shot developed by Pfizer and its  German partner BioNTech. A third vaccine from US firm Moderna is not far behind.

The British government has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and plans to start distributing it in December if it gains approval.

The regulator said it could not give a time frame for possible approval of the vaccines.

MHRA Chief Executive June Raine said, “No vaccine would be authorised for supply in the UK unless the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met.”

Oxford and AstraZeneca reported on Monday that their vaccine appeared to be 62 per cent effective in people who received two doses, and 90 per cent effective when volunteers were given a half dose followed by a full dose.

They did not mention at the time, but later acknowledged, that a manufacturing issue had resulted in “a half dose of the vaccine being administered as the first dose” to some participants.

The drugmakers informed the UK regulator of the issue when it was discovered, and it was agreed to complete the late-stage trial with two groups.

AstraZeneca has said it plans to conduct a new global clinical trial to assess the vaccine’s efficacy but does not expect that to delay regulatory approval in Britain or the European Union — though the US Food and Drug Administration may take longer.

Some scientists have expressed concerns about gaps in the data and the way the results were reported. Only 2,741 people received the half dose, making it hard to know if the effectiveness seen in the group is real or a statistical quirk. A total of 8,895 people received two full doses.

Eleanor Riley, professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the University of Edinburgh, said Oxford and AstraZeneca needed to answer questions about their results “clearly and completely.”

“Trust is at a premium when it comes to vaccines and we must not do anything that might in any way undermine that trust,” she said.

Full results are due to be published in medical journal The Lancet, though no date has been given.

Pfizer and BioNTech said earlier this month that their vaccine is 95 per cent effective, and Moderna said its product appears to be 94.5 per cent effective, according to preliminary data.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab does not need

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Five Questions Boston College has to Answer Against Louisville

Boston College takes on Louisville this Saturday in the home finale of the football season. The Eagles (5-4), look to get back into the win column after losing two of the last three to Notre Dame and Clemson. While Louisville (3-6) will try to add on to their win total by defeating the Eagles. Here are five questions heading into this game. 

1. How does Boston College handle the speed of UL? Louisville has talent up and down the offensive side of the roster. Quarterback Micale Cunningham, and wide receivers Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitpatrick are a talented trio, and there is speed up and down this roster. Boston College has struggled at times with fast teams (UNC, VT), can they contain the explosiveness of UL?

2. Can the Eagles force turnovers? The Cardinals achilles heel are the turnovers, in which they have 21 and are near the bottom in the country in giveaways. Boston College’s defense has been opportunistic this season, if they can force turnovers and give BC’s offense the short field it could be smooth sailing for the Eagles.

3. Which Phil Jurkovec will we get on Saturday? The big news coming out of the Notre Dame game was the revelation of a shoulder separation to quarterback Phil Jurkovec suffered against Clemson. It clearly impacted him as he lost some of his accuracy and arm strength. He gritted through it, but was not the same quarterback BC has had all year. He had a whole week to rest it according to Jeff Hafley, if he is back to 100% he could be a difference maker. 

4. Can BC find yards against UL’s pass defense? Going into this game the Cardinals have the 9th ranked pass defense. But looking deeper they really haven’t faced many strong offenses. They did however hold Notre Dame to just twelve points, and we saw how effective that offense can be. Which UL defense will we see?

5. How will the break impact the Eagles? This game has been moved twice, which according to Jeff Hafley shouldn’t impact the preparation for this game. Boston College played nine consecutive games before this and Hafley mentioned how worn down the entire program was. The break was much needed. Will the break invigorate the Eagles?

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Five College Football Playoff questions that need answers after first set of rankings

The College Football Playoff committee unveiled the first set of rankings Tuesday, and there were no questions whatsoever.

Just kidding. The committee left some interesting debates, starting with the top four. Alabama (7-0) and Notre Dame (8-0) hold the top two spots, but Clemson (7-1) is ranked ahead of Ohio State (4-0).

MORE: Complete Week 13 CFP rankings

Why? That’s just one of our five big questions from the first set of rankings:

College Football Playoff rankings questions

Why is Clemson ranked ahead of Ohio State?

There’s a bit of TV trolling at work here. The Tigers have a victory against No. 10 Miami. The Buckeyes have a victory against No. 12 Indiana. Clemson has a larger sample size, but also has a loss to No. 2 Notre Dame.

The committee might have unnecessarily boxed themselves in here, even if the Tigers beat the Irish in the rematch. Ohio State could go undefeated, but the best win left on the schedule is No. 8 Northwestern (5-0) — a team that controls its own destiny for a Playoff spot. The stakes will be higher between the Buckeyes and Wildcats than they were in the 2018 Big Ten championship game.

The seeding will work itself out, but at this juncture the Buckeyes should be ranked higher. Expect the committee to fall back on the “each week is a blank slate” mantra that gets used so often if the teams end up switching spots.

Can two SEC teams make the Playoff?

Based on the precedent set with Clemson and Notre Dame — and knowing four SEC teams are ranked in the top 10 — it’s possible.

Assuming both the Tigers and Irish win out in the regular season, No. 5 Florida could beat Alabama in the SEC championship game. If the game is an instant classic between Heisman contenders Mac Jones and Kyle Trask, then it’s possible that both the Gators and Crimson Tide both snag a spot (though Alabama would need help, with teams such as Ohio State, Oregon and Cincinnati losing).

No. 6 Texas A&M also is ranked high enough, but likely won’t have the benefit of a SEC championship game appearance. The Aggies need to be over-the-top-impressive down the stretch against LSU, No. 22 Auburn and Tennessee. Texas A&M needs either Clemson or Notre Dame to lose twice, and it’s better if Florida loses to Alabama in Atlanta.

Why is Cincinnati so far ahead of BYU?

That’s a good question. The teams are separated by one spot in the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll, with the Bearcats at No. 7 and the Cougars at No. 8.

Cincinnati held the same spot in the CFP rankings, and their path to the Playoff is open with the help we outlined last weekend. The Bearcats must win out, need Clemson or Notre Dame to lose twice and hope Alabama and Ohio State take the first two spots. That would create a compelling argument with Texas A&M for the last spot, and the

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