If the season ended today, the Iowa Hawkeyes would be competing for a national championship.
Iowa came in at No. 4 when the latest College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, putting the Hawkeyes in line for a spot in the sport's final four. They moved up one spot from the No. 5 ranking they held a week ago.
Michigan State was elevated from No. 9 to No. 5 following its win over Ohio State, both the Hawkeyes and Spartans jumping over Notre Dame.
If both Iowa and Michigan State win in their regular-season finales, it could set up a potential Playoff play-in game in the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Buckeyes dropped to No. 8 after their first loss of the season. Michigan and Northwestern were also ranked in the top 20, the Wolverines moving up from No. 12 to No. 10 and the Wildcats moving up from No. 20 to No. 16.
Iowa closes its regular-season schedule with Nebraska this weekend before playing in the Big Ten title game. Wins in both would almost certainly earn the Hawkeyes a spot in the Playoff as an undefeated conference champ. Oklahoma State, the last remaining undefeated team in the Big 12, also lost this weekend, bettering Iowa's chances at a spot in the Playoff, as just the Hawkeyes and the Clemson Tigers have undefeated records.
The Spartans can clinch a spot in the Big Ten title game with a win over Penn State this weekend. Knock off Iowa for the conference championship, and Michigan State could be looking at a berth in the Playoff. The remaining high rankings of Ohio State and Michigan give a boost to the Spartans' Playoff resume, as does a new No. 17 ranking for Oregon, which Michigan State beat in the second game of the season.
The Buckeyes and Wolverines still remain slightly alive for a spot in the Playoff, too. If Michigan State loses to Penn State this weekend, the winner of the annual rivalry game between Ohio State and Michigan would take on Iowa in the Big Ten title game, where a win could also earn a spot in the Playoff, though that's far less likely.
Northwestern's win over Wisconsin, which fell out of the Playoff rankings this week, sets the Cats up for a double-digit-win season should they beat Illinois in the regular-season finale.
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Here are the complete top-25 rankings:
5. Michigan State
6. Notre Dame
8. Ohio State
13. Florida State
14. North Carolina
18. Ole Miss
20. Washington State
21. Mississippi State