Nov 25, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws during the second half of the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State lost 30-24.

Georgia, Michigan, Washington, Florida State lead CFP rankings

Georgia remained No. 1 and Michigan, Washington and Florida State moved up to the second through fourth spots in the College Football Playoff selection committee’s penultimate rankings on Tuesday night.

Michigan, last week’s No. 3 team, defeated then-No. 2 Ohio State 30-24 in their annual rivalry game last Saturday. The Buckeyes dropped four spots to No. 6, now beneath No. 5 Oregon.

After conference championship games conclude this Saturday, the committee will gather on Sunday to determine the four playoff teams and their semifinal matchups.

One crucial game is Friday’s Pac-12 championship game, a rematch between Washington and Oregon. The Huskies won 36-33 at home in the teams’ regular-season meeting, the only loss on the Ducks’ record. Heisman Trophy favorite Bo Nix and the Ducks will try to avenge that loss on a neutral field in Las Vegas.

Texas and Alabama remained at Nos. 7 and 8 and have an outside chance of breaking into the field of four this weekend. Texas faces No. 18 Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship game, and Alabama takes on Georgia for the SEC title once again.

The full rankings are as follows:

1. Georgia (12-0)
2. Michigan (12-0)
3. Washington (12-0)
4. Florida State (12-0)
5. Oregon (11-1)
6. Ohio State (11-1)
7. Texas (11-1)
8. Alabama (11-1)
9. Missouri (10-2)
10. Penn State (10-2)
11. Ole Miss (10-2)
12. Oklahoma (10-2)
13. LSU (9-3)
14. Louisville (10-2)
15. Arizona (9-3)
16. Iowa (10-2)
17. Notre Dame (9-3)
18. Oklahoma State (9-3)
19. NC State (9-3)
20. Oregon State (8-4)
21. Tennessee (8-4)
22. Tulane (11-1)
23. Clemson (8-4)
24. Liberty (12-0)
25. Kansas State (8-4)

–Field Level Media

Duck fans show their support for Oregon quarterback Bo Nix and coach Dan Lanning during the game against Oregon State.

AP Top 25: Oregon hits No. 5, Ohio State falls to No. 6

Ohio State’s loss to Michigan sent the Buckeyes plummeting four spots to No. 6, making room for Oregon to move into the first five of the Associated Press Top 25 poll, released Sunday.

Georgia held the No. 1 spot for the 24th straight week, gaining 52 of 62 first-place votes. The other 10 votes went to Michigan, who defeated Ohio State 30-24 and rose one place to No. 2.

Washington moved to No. 3, with Florida State also climbing one rung to No. 4.

The top four teams all are 12-0.

Georgia, Michigan, Florida State and Washington all have cemented berths in their respective conference championship games. The Huskies will meet No. 5 Oregon (11-1) in the Pac-12 title game Friday at Las Vegas.

This is the first time the Pac-12, which is set to disband after this season as 10 teams defect to other leagues, had two teams in the top five since the last ranking of the 2016 season.

The College Football Playoff committee ultimately determines the four teams that will compete for the national championship, and its latest rankings will be unveiled on Tuesday.

Following No. 6 Ohio State are two other 11-1 teams — No. 7 Texas and No. 8 Alabama.

No. 9 Missouri and No. 10 Penn State, both 10-2, round out the top 10.

With a loss to Kentucky, Louisville fell out of the top 10 and dropped six places to No. 15. That allowed No. 11 Ole Miss to move up one place, followed by Oklahoma, LSU and Arizona.

Also dropping six spots was No. 21 Oregon State, which lost 31-7 to Oregon.

Out of the Top 25 this week are Kansas State and Tennessee. They were replaced by No. 21 North Carolina State and No. 25 SMU.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies place kicker Grady Gross (95) celebrates after making a game-winning field goal against the Washington State Cougars during the fourth quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Washington K Grady Gross earns scholarship with winning FG

Saturday was going pretty good for Grady Gross after he kicked a game-winning 42-yard field goal as time expired to give Washington a 24-21 victory over Washington State in the Apple Cup.

But the day got even better afterward for the sophomore from Scottsdale, Ariz., as Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer placed him on scholarship.

The team was in the locker room when DeBoer began by talking about Thanksgiving.

“I’m thankful for Grady Gross,” said DeBoer, who called for Gross to join him in the center of the locker room.

“And you know what Grady Gross is thankful for — the scholarship he’s earned,” DeBoer said.

That caused an eruption from the players, who surrounded Gross and hugged him or threw water on him.

Gross’ clutch kick kept the Huskies (12-0) undefeated and likely keeps them in the top four of the College Football Playoff ranking with one week to go.

Earlier in the game, Gross missed a 43-yard field-goal attempt.

Gross has scored 87 points this season. He is 11-for-15 on field goals and has made all 54 extra-point attempts.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) throws the ball during the first half against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 Washington insists focus is solely on Wazzu

After clinching a spot in the Pacific-12 Conference championship game with a 22-20 victory at then-No. 11 Oregon State last week, Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was asked whether the Huskies might overlook this week’s Apple Cup to focus on the title game.

Penix was incredulous.

“It’s the Apple Cup. What you mean? We can’t lose that,” Penix said. “That’s one of the biggest games for Husky Nation, with the whole tradition and everything. We’re not looking over that. We’re going to be ready for it.

“Yeah, man, it’s exciting to know we’ll be in the (Pac-12) championship. But there’s still work to be done. Like I said, man, if you’re not excited for the Apple Cup, then you’re in the wrong spot.”

While the Saturday game in Seattle will be the last meeting between the rivals as members of the Pac-12 — No. 4 Washington is among four conference schools leaving for the Big Ten next season — it was announced earlier in the week that the Apple Cup will continue, as the schools agreed to a five-year deal to continue playing.

“We should never have to get to this point where we have to schedule out-of-conference games (against Washington),” Washington State coach Jake Dickert said. “I understand both sides of the reaction. I do. But when I step back, and I look at a 360-degree view, we’ve been playing for over 100 years, and that needs to continue.

“I think any time you have an issue that people have an emotional reaction to, that means they’re bought into it, whatever side of the coin you’re on, right? I see it both ways. I do. But at the end of the day, we’re playing for the Apple Cup. That means something to every person that wears the Coug, every man that has been in our locker room, it’s very important to him. So everyone tunes in to watch the game.”

The Huskies (11-0, 8-0 Pac-12), who moved up to No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings this week, are paced by Heisman hopeful Penix, who leads the nation with 3,695 passing yards. Rome Odunze ranks fifth nationally with 1,206 receiving yards, and Dillon Johnson, who is hopeful to play after sustaining a foot injury last week, has rushed for 879 yards and scored 11 TDs.

The Cougars (5-6, 2-6) snapped a six-game losing streak with a 56-14 victory against visiting Colorado last week. Washington State would become bowl eligible with a victory against Washington.

Cameron Ward threw for 288 yards and accounted for four touchdowns vs. the Buffaloes, and Brennan Jackson returned fumbles 48 and 78 yards for scores. Nakia Watson ran for a season-high 47 yards on eight carries.

“He was (almost) an 800-yard running back last season and we haven’t been able to get him to that point for a variety of different reasons,” Dickert said of Watson. “To see him go out on Senior Night and perform the way we always felt like he was capable of playing is important. You would love to see that more, and I want to see that again this week because we’re going to need it.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day walks into Ohio Stadium behind Brutus Buckeye prior to the NCAA football game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

AP Top 25: Georgia stays at No. 1; Ohio State, Michigan trade places

Ohio State overtook Michigan to capture the No. 2 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, released Sunday, as the bitter rivals prepare to meet next weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Wolverines, without suspended coach Jim Harbaugh, earned their 1,000th program victory on Saturday against Maryland but dropped one spot to No. 3.

Georgia, which has sat atop the poll all season, remained No. 1 and earned 61 of 62 first-place votes, with the remaining vote going to the Buckeyes.

Washington, after a 22-20 win over then-No. 10 Oregon State, rose a spot to No. 4, trading places with No. 5 Florida State. The Seminoles defeated North Alabama on Saturday but lost their starting quarterback, Jordan Travis, to an apparently serious left leg injury.

Each of the teams in the top five is 11-0. The College Football Playoff committee, which ultimately determines the four teams that will contest for the national championship, will issue its updated rankings on Tuesday.

This week, the CFP had Georgia at No. 1, followed by Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State and Washington.

The AP Top 25 ranking for the No. 6 through 9 teams remained unchanged Sunday, with No. 6 Oregon followed by Texas, Alabama and Louisville — a quartet of 10-1 teams.

Oregon State (8-3) plummeted five spots to No. 15.

Moving up one spot to No. 10 was Missouri, followed by Penn State, Ole Miss and Oklahoma, all 8-2. LSU (9-3) stands at No. 14.

With losses Saturday, James Madison (10-1) plunged six spots to No. 24, with Tennessee falling four positions to No. 25.

The biggest riser was No. 19 Kansas State (8-3), which climbed four places after defeating Kansas.

Falling out of the Top 25 for the first time this season is Utah, which was ranked No. 16 before its 42-18 loss at Arizona. The Wildcats (8-3) assumed the No. 16 position.

Also out is North Carolina following a loss to Clemson.

No. 20 Iowa rejoined the Top 25 with a win over Illinois that clinched the Big Ten west division title. Entering the poll for the first time was Toledo (10-1) at No. 23.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver Jalen McMillan (11) goes up for a pass during the second half against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 Washington outlasts No. 11 Oregon St., 22-20

Michael Penix Jr. threw two touchdown passes and Dillon Johnson rushed for 89 yards as No. 5 Washington survived a scare and edged No. 11 Oregon State 22-20 on Saturday night in Pac-12 play at Corvallis, Ore.

Rome Odunze caught seven passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns for the Huskies (11-0, 8-0 Pac-12), who clinched a spot in next month’s Pac-12 championship game. Penix was just 13-of-28 passing for a season-low 162 yards.

Though high-powered Washington won its 18th consecutive game, it had just 69 yards and three first downs in the second half. Overall, the Huskies had 272 yards, well below their average of 503.9 yards.

Damien Martinez rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns for Oregon State (8-3, 5-3). DJ Uiagalelei completed 15 of 31 passes for 166 yards and two interceptions for the Beavers, who gained 319 yards.

Oregon State trailed by 12 at halftime and cut into Washington’s lead with a punishing 16-play, 78-yard drive that chewed up 9:56. Martinez capped it by scoring from the 5 to pull the Beavers within 22-17 with 1:29 left in the third quarter.

Atticus Sappington booted a 35-yard field goal with 10:40 remaining to bring Oregon State within two.

The Beavers forced a punt and took over at their own 5-yard line with 7:55 remaining. Though Oregon State possessed the ball for 5:47, the Beavers didn’t reach midfield and Uiagalelei’s fourth-and-5 pass was incomplete and the Huskies took over with 2:08 left.

Washington soon faced third-and-3 from the Oregon State 40 and Penix completed a 19-yard pass to Odunze with 1:52 left to wrap up the contest. Oregon State suffered just its second home loss in 18 games since the start of the 2021 season.

Penix and Odunze teamed up twice in the first half as Washington held a 22-10 lead at the break.

They combined for the game’s first points on a 12-yard scoring play with 9:55 left in the first quarter. Oregon State knotted the score on Martinez’s 3-yard run with 5:09 remaining.

The Huskies took a 9-7 lead late in the first quarter on a safety. Oregon State was punting from its own 40-yard line and the snap from Dylan Black sailed over the head of Josh Green. Once Green caught up to the ball in the end zone, he kicked it through the back to give Washington the two points.

Penix scored on a 5-yard run to give the Huskies a nine-point lead with 9:33 left in the first half. The Beavers cut their deficit to 16-10 on Sappington’s 38-yard field goal with 4:57 remaining.

Penix connected with Odunze again, this time from 32 yards out, with 54 seconds to go in the half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Stanford, California, USA; A view of the Pac-12 logo on the field as Stanford Cardinal wide receiver David Kasemervisz (80) warms up before the game against the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Washington court issues stay regarding control of Pac-12

The court ruling putting Washington State and Oregon State in control of the Pac-12 Conference was blocked Thursday when the Washington State Supreme Court issued a temporary stay.

The latest decision came after the University of Washington, representing the 10 universities that will exit the conference at the start of the next school year, sought to block the Tuesday ruling made by Whitman County (Wash.) Superior Court Judge Gary Libey.

The emergency stay blocks the two remaining schools from having the only votes on league matters.

According to ESPN, the sides were asked to submit briefs on the case by Nov. 28 and replies by Dec. 8.

Representatives for Oregon State and Washington State wrote in a joint statement, “The departing schools are only delaying the inevitable because the superior court clearly got it right: Under the bylaws, the Conference’s future must be decided by the schools that stay, not those that are leaving.”

After the Superior Court ruling on Tuesday, CBS Sports reported that Oregon State and Washington State intend to compete as a two-team football league next year, though the schools were in contact with representatives of the Mountain West Conference, Sun Belt Conference, American Athletic Conference, Conference USA and Mid-American Conference in the search for games in 2024.

Southern California, UCLA, Washington and Oregon are set to join the Big Ten next season, while Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah will head to the Big 12. Cal and Stanford will move to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

–Field Level Media

The Bulldog cheerleaders run out on the field ahead of the team before the start of the annual Florida vs Georgia football game at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, FL, Saturday, October 27, 2023. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]

Georgia holds No. 1 spot in Top 25 poll for 22nd straight week

Georgia is No. 1 — again — in the Associated Top 25 poll released Sunday, a spot the Bulldogs now have held for 22 straight weeks.

It is the second-longest stretch at No. 1 for any team, trailing Southern California, which topped the poll 33 straight weeks from 2003-05.

Georgia captured 54 of 62 first-place tallies from poll voters, who disagree with the College Football Playoff committee. For the second straight week, the committee put Ohio State at No. 1, followed by Georgia and Michigan in its standings.

The next CFP standings come out Tuesday.

The top eight in the AP poll remained unchanged this week. Michigan, with seven first-place votes, was No. 2, followed by Ohio State (one first-place vote), Florida State and Washington. Each team in the top five owns a 10-0 record.

No. 6 Oregon led a quartet of 9-1 teams and was followed by Texas, Alabama, Louisville and No. 10 Oregon State (8-2).

Louisville and Oregon State moved into the top 10 for the first time this season. Louisville last reached the top 10 in November 2016. The Beavers haven’t climbed that high since October 2012.

Moving out of the top 10 was Penn State, which fell three spots to No. 12, after its loss to Michigan on Saturday. Ole Miss also dropped three ticks to No. 13 after being beaten by Georgia.

Big losses on Saturday led Tennessee and Oklahoma State, both 7-3, to plummet in the poll.

The Volunteers fell seven spots to No. 21 after Missouri defeated them 36-7. The Cowboys dropped nine places to No. 24 after being manhandled by UCF 45-3.

Missouri’s win sent the Tigers up five notches to No. 11.

A trio of teams from non-power conferences — No. 17 Tulane (9-1), No. 18 James Madison (10-0) and No. 25 Liberty (10-0) — remained in the rankings.

Falling out was Kansas after being upset by Texas Tech. Kansas State (7-3) replaced them and landed at No. 23.

The two Kansas teams meet next Saturday on the Jayhawks’ home field in Lawrence.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Washington Huskies running back Dillon Johnson (7), Washington Huskies offensive lineman Nate Kalepo (71) and other teammates celebrate against the USC Trojans during the second quarter at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 Washington, No. 18 Utah ready for key Pac-12 matchup

It was supposed to have been a showdown between the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Southern California’s Caleb Williams, and this year’s favorite, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.

Until Dillon Johnson stole the show.

Johnson rushed for 256 yards — the same number that Penix threw for — and four touchdowns as the Huskies won 52-42 last week in Los Angeles.

That will give No. 18 Utah (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) one more thing to worry about when it travels to Seattle to meet No. 5 Washington (9-0, 6-0) on Saturday afternoon in a key Pacific-12 Conference game.

Penix threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another vs. the Trojans, but it was Johnson who made the difference and earned the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Week award.

“It takes the heat off of Mike,” Washington coach Kalen DeBoer said of Johnson’s big game. “It allows other guys to get touches. DJ had a hot hand, and he was doing what we thought he could do when he came into our program, when we saw the film from a year ago (at Mississippi State).

“It’s just fun seeing the work he’s put in to get himself in the condition and the speed he’s at now, the physicality he’s playing with. We needed every bit of it. So I’m proud of him, proud of the offensive line, too.”

Johnson has come up big in the Huskies’ most important games of the season. He had what was then a career-high 100 yards and a touchdown on Oct. 14 in a 36-33 victory against visiting Oregon.

Against USC, Johnson had 129 of his yards before contact, according to Pro Football Focus.

“The O-line did a great job of making holes for me, so my day was really kind of easy,” Johnson said. “I just hit whatever hole was open.”

It will most likely be tougher going against a Utah defense that is ranked first in the Pac-12 in both points allowed (15.9) and yards allowed (282.3) per game.

After taking a 35-6 loss to then-No. 8 Oregon at home two weeks ago, the Utes bounced back with a 55-3 blowout of Arizona State.

Bryson Barnes threw a career-high four touchdown passes and Ja’Quinden Jackson ran 13 times for 111 yards and a touchdown for the Utes.

“You don’t want to let a team beat you twice,” said Barnes, referring to any potential letdown after the Oregon game. “We had to regain our energy and get over that loss, no matter how bad it was.”

Utah held the Sun Devils to just 83 total yards — 43 rushing and 40 passing. Arizona State converted just 1 of 15 third-down attempts.

“When the defense is clicking and in sync and not on our heels like we were (against the Ducks), we’re really good,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “The front seven was outstanding. Back end was good, too … We just played a complete game at all three levels.”

The Utes won’t shy away from a national television audience for the Saturday game. They’re 4-1 in those appearances this season.

“Anytime you can get national exposure and build your brand … our recruits have certainly taken note of that and are excited about the exposure we’ve gotten,” Whittingham said. “Now, it’s a two-edged sword. You got to be on national TV and play well, you don’t want to go ahead and just underperform every week. But we’ve performed pretty darn good this year in most weeks, and that has caught the attention of our recruits and that’s been a plus.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Washington Huskies running back Tybo Rogers (20) carries the ball against USC Trojans safety Calen Bullock (7) during the second quarter at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

Dillon Johnson powers No. 5 Washington past No. 20 USC

Dillon Johnson rushed for career highs of 256 yards and four touchdowns, Michael Penix Jr. passed for two scores and No. 5 Washington remained undefeated with a 52-42 defeat of No. 20 Southern California on Saturday in Los Angeles.

Johnson’s standout performance concluded when he scored his fourth touchdown with 2:20 remaining, giving Washington the first and only two-score advantage either team held in the shootout.

The Huskies (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12) broke the back-and-forth stalemate when, after a 43-yard Grady Gross field goal put Washington ahead 45-42, the defense forced USC to punt for the first time since late in the first quarter.

Voi Tunuufi sacked Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams for a 12-yard loss that pushed USC out of field-goal range, setting the scene for Washington to deliver the decisive blow with its eighth scoring drive of the night.

Johnson broke a 53-yard run on the next offensive play, later carried for another 11 yards down to the goal line, then punched in the touchdown.

Johnson also scored on a 52-yard carry in the second quarter and a pair of short rushes in the first half — the second of which gave Washington its first lead of the game.

Zion Tupuola-Fetui’s strip of Williams deep in USC territory with 67 seconds remaining in the first half led to a Johnson goal-line touchdown carry.

With Washington taking possession to start the second half, the Huskies had an opportunity to open up a two-score lead. They drove to the USC 21-yard line before Eric Gentry’s deflection of a Penix pass turned into a Christian Roland-Wallace interception in the end zone.

USC (7-3, 5-2) forced ties in the second half on Williams touchdown passes of 25 yards to Brenden Rice and 20 yards to Mario Williams.

Caleb Williams also threw a 41-yard touchdown to Tahj Washington in the first half. Caleb Williams finished 27-of-35 passing for 312 yards with the three scores and a fourth touchdown rushing. Darwin Barlow and Raleek Brown each ran for a score for the Trojans.

Penix ended the night 22-of-30 passing for 256 yards, with his touchdown throws going 4 yards to Ja’Lynn Polk and 22 yards to Devin Culp. Penix also rushed for a TD.

Rome Odunze led Washington with 82 yards on five receptions.

Washington paced USC with 122 yards on eight catches. Austin Jones rushed for 127 yards on 11 carries in the loss.

–Field Level Media