College football rankings: Texas proves it belongs in top 4

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By Samantha Rose

Texas is one of the four best teams in college football. 

But that’s not the only reason that this Longhorns team should be selected to participate in the College Football Playoff for the first time in school history.

Texas won the Big 12 championship — its first conference title since 2009. But that’s also not the end of the Longhorns’ case to be selected for the CFP.

Texas is a one-loss Power 5 champion in a season where only one other team can make that claim. That team is Alabama, which knocked off two-time defending national champion Georgia to win the SEC title.

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And while that is the best single win of any team this season, the Tide also played the Longhorns in Tuscaloosa in Week 2 — and lost by 10 points.

That is the biggest reason Texas should be a CFP team, especially at the expense of Alabama.

The criteria the CFP committee is supposed to follow states that head-to-head competition is one of the four major points to consider in defining the four-team field. The others are championships won, strength of schedule and comparative outcomes of common opponents.

That’s why Texas is included in my top four, joining three undefeated conference champions — Michigan, Washington and Florida State.

Alabama, Texas & Florida State: Who will make the CFP?

Alabama, Texas & Florida State: Who will make the CFP?

Here’s how I think the CFP selection committee’s Top 25 should line up on Sunday.

1. Michigan (13-0)

Defeated Iowa, 26-0

The Wolverines have suffocated opponents all season, so it’s no surprise that they shut out the offensively challenged Hawkeyes, holding them to 149 yards of total offense along the way. Now, we’ll see if they’re destined for the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl in the CFP.

Michigan wins third straight Big Ten title

Michigan wins third straight Big Ten title

2. Washington (13-0)

Defeated Oregon, 34-31

The Huskies finished the regular season 13-0 for the first time in school history.

In their win, quarterback Michael Penix Jr. completed 27 of 39 passes for 319 yards with a TD and an INT — a lasting bullet point on a Heisman-caliber résumé.

Washington’s offense is too much for Oregon

Washington's offense is too much for Oregon

3. Florida State (13-0) 

Defeated Louisville, 16-6

Without injured quarterback Jordan Travis, the Noles relied on stifling defense, holding Louisville to 188 yards in winning the ACC crown.

4. Texas (12-1)

Defeated Oklahoma State, 49-21

Quinn Ewers passed for 452 yards and four touchdowns as the Longhorns made the statement they needed to make to the selection committee.

Will the Texas Longhorns make the playoff?

Will the Texas Longhorns make the playoff?

5. Alabama (12-1)

Defeated Georgia, 27-24

Jalen Milroe kept the chains moving just enough with his arms and legs, and let Bama’s defense do the rest in a stunning SEC title game, ending Georgia’s 29-game winning streak.

Does Alabama deserve a CFP spot?

Does Alabama deserve a CFP spot?

6. Georgia (12-1)

Lost to Alabama, 27-24

For all of Georgia’s dominance, the Bulldogs are 0-4 against Alabama in SEC title game matchups, and Kirby Smart is 1-5 against Nick Saban.

7. Ohio State (11-1)

Idle

8. Oregon (11-2)

Lost to Washington, 34-31

The Ducks were blowing everybody out on the way to becoming 9.5-point favorites entering the Pac-12 title game. Kalen DeBoer’s Huskies are the only team to beat them this season.

9. Penn State (10-2)

Idle

10. Missouri (10-2)

Idle

11. Ole Miss (10-2) 

Idle

12. Oklahoma (10-2)

Idle

13. SMU (11-2)

Defeated Tulane, 26-14

Kevin Jennings passed for 203 yards and rushed for another 63 as the Mustangs pulled off the stunner to win the AAC title.

14. Louisville (10-3)

Lost to Florida State, 16-6

The Cardinals battled the Noles step for step, but couldn’t notch more than a pair of field goals, falling short in their bid to play spoiler.

15. Arizona (9-3)

Idle

16. LSU (9-3)

Idle

17. Iowa (10-3)

Lost to Michigan, 26-0

With one of the worst offenses in the nation, simply reaching the Big Ten title game was a massive accomplishment for the Hawkeyes.

Referees rule that Iowa’s Deacon Hill fumbles and Michigan recovers

Referees rule that Iowa's Deacon Hill fumbles and Michigan recovers

18. Tulane (11-2)

Lost to SMU, 26-14

The Green Wave suffered their first loss since falling to Ole Miss on Sept. 9.

19. Miami (Ohio) (11-2)

Defeated Toledo, 23-14

The Redhawks scored 10 unanswered in the fourth quarter to win their first MAC title since 2019.

20. Notre Dame (8-3)

Idle

21. Oklahoma State (9-4)

Lost to Texas, 49-21

The Cowboys were never in this one, falling behind 21-7 early and giving up 35 points in the first half.

22. Liberty (13-0)

Defeated New Mexico State, 49-35

The Flames beat a nine-win New Mexico State team — which beat SEC West foe Auburn on the road by three TDs — to win the C-USA Championship and make a sound argument for a New Year’s Six bowl berth.

23. James Madison (11-1)

Idle

24. Clemson (8-4)

Idle

25. Troy (11-2)

Defeated Appalachian State, 49-23

Kimani Vidal rushed for 233 yards and five touchdowns as Troy won its second straight Sun Belt title.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The Number One College Football Show.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.

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