As promised, the College Football Playoff chase has nearly been decided on the field.
With just one weekend left before the end of the regular season, the selection committee will be able to write in an obvious top four in Tuesday's rankings. Michigan's win against Ohio State opened up a spot for Southern California, which can secure an unexpected playoff bid by beating Utah for the Pac-12 championship.
There is a surprisingly small amount of debate at the top of the rankings, matching the small number of games remaining on the schedule.
As one example, Ohio State is likely to land at No. 5 due to the Buckeyes' status as one of just five Bowl Subdivision teams with one or zero losses. There's no reason to think Alabama won't land at No. 6, moving up one to replace LSU.
And so on down the line. Even if the committee might decide to try something different outside the top six or seven, the top grouping of teams speaks to the refreshingly obvious playoff race with one Saturday left before the postseason.
In advance of Tuesday night's rankings, here's how the top 10 should look:
1. Georgia (12-0)
Beating LSU would make Kirby Smart the fourth coach in program history to win multiple SEC championships, joining Mark Richt, Vince Dooley and Wally Butts. Smart is 1-3 in the title game, beating Auburn in 2017 but losing to Alabama in 2018, LSU in 2019 and Alabama again last season.
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2. Michigan (12-0)
If not quite as certain as Georgia's chances, the Wolverines could very likely lose to Purdue in the Big Ten championship game and still make the top four. Is there a result that could change that? Maybe getting blown out by the Boilermakers could sway the committee's thinking. Even then, though, that could mean leaving out 12-1 Michigan in favor of 11-1 Ohio State just a week after the Wolverines' convincing win. In other words, Michigan should feel very safe.
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3. TCU (12-0)
Beating Kansas State for the conference championship would make TCU the first Big 12 team other than Oklahoma to reach the playoff. Clemson's second loss also increases the odds the Horned Frogs could lose to the Wildcats and still finish in the top four, but failing to win the Big 12 could open a door for Ohio State or Alabama.
4. Southern California (11-1)
Utah quarterback Cam Rising carried Utah to this year's 43-42 win against USC with 475 yards of total offense and five touchdowns, three on the ground. He's had a hit-or-miss run in the weeks since, missing the Washington State game with an injury and then tossing four touchdowns and four interceptions in games against Arizona, Stanford and Oregon. Rising did rebound with a strong performance Saturday against Colorado — he went 17 of 19 for 234 yards and three scores — and seems ready for the head-to-head matchup with Caleb Williams to decide if the Pac-12 gets back into the playoff.
5. Ohio State (11-1)
Putting OSU here despite another disheartening loss to the Wolverines reflects the Buckeyes' record and the committee's admiration for a team that has spent almost two months right behind the Bulldogs in the playoff rankings and USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll. Yes, Alabama might land at No. 5, but what would be the committee's rationale?
6. Alabama (10-2)
Whichever team does come in at No. 5 will have the inside track to replacing USC should the Trojans lose to Utah. Alabama's argument rests on quality wins against Mississippi and Texas along with narrow losses to Tennessee and LSU. The Tigers' loss to Texas A&M dents that case, unfortunately.
7. Tennessee (10-2)
Again, why wouldn't Tennessee be ahead of Alabama thanks to this year's 52-49 win? Three spots behind in last week's rankings after losing to South Carolina, the Volunteers will climb several rungs but won't move ahead of the Crimson Tide. Rebounding to beat Vanderbilt does get Tennessee into the New Year's Six, though.
8. Penn State (10-2)
Penn State doesn't have the wins to move ahead of the two-loss teams from the SEC. There are some solid victories: Purdue won the Big Ten West, Ohio is playing for the MAC championship, and Minnesota and Maryland won eight and seven games, respectively. This is still a nice year for the Nittany Lions after struggling through 2020 and 2021.
9. Kansas State (9-3)
After winning the rivalry game against Kansas, Kansas State will continue to climb up the rankings and will be the top three-loss team heading into the rematch with TCU. The Wildcats lost to the Horned Frogs earlier this season despite holding an 18-point lead and could easily take home the program's first conference championship since 2003.
10. Washington (10-2)
There's an argument for moving Washington ahead of the Wildcats due to the better overall record and stronger top-end wins: Oregon State and Oregon are much more impressive than Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. But while an Apple Cup win against Washington State might carry more weight than beating Kansas, there's not enough there for the committee to make the swap.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College Football Playoff ranking prediction: Ohio State, Alabama at 5?