North Carolina made its move into the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings as it prepares for No. 1 Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, and potentially make a playoff case, on Saturday.
There was no movement in the race for the four-team playoff format at the top of the rankings: No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 4 Iowa.
However, UNC moved up four spots to No. 10. The Tar Heels lost to South Carolina to open the season and haven't lost since, and can make the biggest final impression of on the CFP selection committee of any playoff contender in Saturday's conference title games. The question is whether or not UNC, if it beats Clemson for an ACC title, would take a playoff berth over, for instance, Ohio State.
"They do have a loss that's near the bottom of the SEC (South Carolina). The factors of playing FCS (opponents), having a bad loss against a team that's not considered very high out of the SEC, is holding them back certainly," CFP selection committee chairman Jeff Long said.
Oklahoma is the champion of the Big 12 and is expected to be in the four-team field even without a conference title game to play in. The winner of the Big Ten title game between Iowa and No. 5 Michigan State figures to occupy another playoff spot, while Alabama can secure one with an SEC Championship Game win over Florida. That leaves Clemson to take the fourth spot if it beats the Tar Heels, or some controversy if it doesn't.
The CFP selection committee will release its final rankings Sunday to determine the four-team playoff field. The Capital One Orange Bowl and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl will host the semifinals at 4 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. ET, respectively, on Dec. 31. The College Football Playoff championship game will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. on Jan. 11, 2016.
The selection committee is operating with 12 members instead of its intended 13 after USC athletic director Pat Haden resigned from the committee earlier this year.
The entire order of the College Football Playoff selection committee rankings: