Ralph D. Russo

Oklahoma moved into third and Iowa was fourth in the new College Football Playoff rankings as Notre Dame slipped to No. 6.

Clemson and Alabama remained the top two teams in the third-to-last committee rankings.

The Sooners (10-1) seem to be in solid shape with only one game left in their season. Oklahoma will play at Oklahoma State on Saturday with a chance to win the Big 12. The Cowboys dropped to 11th after losing its first game of the season

Notre Dame (10-1) also plays its last game of the season Saturday, a possible resume-builder against Stanford, which is ninth in the rankings.

“In our view, Oklahoma is better than Iowa,” committee chairman Jeff Long said. “We felt Iowa and Michigan State were extremely close.”

Unbeaten Iowa (11-0) and No. 5 Michigan State (10-1) can set up a possible playoff play-in game in the Big Ten championship if both win this weekend.

Big Ten vs. Notre Dame

When Ohio State was unbeaten, it looked as if the final spot would come down to Notre Dame or the Big 12 champion.

Now it looks as if the Irish’s path to the playoff goes through the Big Ten. The Irish could be blocked without an upset or two in the Big Ten over the next couple of weeks.

Michigan State plays Penn State on Saturday and Iowa is at Nebraska. If both win, that sets up a Big Ten championship game with unbeaten Iowa against Michigan State at 11-1. Again, unless Notre Dame posts some type of monstrous blowout of Stanford, jumping ahead of the Big Ten champ looks very difficult.

Different situation

Last season, TCU was third in the second-to-last playoff rankings and slipped to sixth in the final rankings, behind Ohio State and Baylor.

That has Big 12 fans understandably wondering if the league is setup for another fall from No. 3 even if the Sooners take care of business on Saturday.

It is not the same situation. Oklahoma is in better position. Here’s why:

Last season the committee liked TCU more than Baylor all season, despite the Bears beating the Horned Frogs in October. In the last rankings, when Baylor’s and TCU’s schedule were almost identical, the committee finally honored the head-to-head result and placed Baylor ahead of TCU.

That can’t happen this season.

The Sooners loss was to Texas and with the Big 12 now using head-to-head tiebreakers, they would be the conference’s one true champion.