Northwestern has risen once again in Tuesday's College Football Playoff rankings, but remains behind Notre Dame, Baylor and Florida State. The Wildcats were also jumped by TCU and Ole Miss despite winning.
The Wildcats rose two spots to No. 14 after a 24-14 win over Illinois at Soldier Field, jumping ahead of Michigan, Oklahoma State, Navy and Florida, but still are likely to be left out of the New Year's Six bowls.
For Northwestern to reach a New Year's Six bowl, it would likely have to finish ahead of all but one of the following teams:
Notre Dame, Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina, the third-highest ranked Big 12 team (assuming Oklahoma makes the Playoff), the third-highest ranked SEC team (assuming Alabama makes the Playoff), and the loser of the Pac 12 Championship game.
It could jump North Carolina if the Tar Heels lose to Clemson in the ACC Championship game, but would need the committee to reconsider its reasoning to surpass Florida State, Notre Dame, and either TCU or Baylor. But for all intents and purposes, Northwestern's chances at a New Year's Six bowl have ended.
Notre Dame and Florida State both have identical records to Northwestern's, and the Wildcats possess a better win (over No. 6 Stanford) than either the Fighting Irish or the Seminoles do. In fact, NU might have one of the top 10 résumés in the country if the only considerations are wins, losses and strength of schedule. But it has been hurt by the eye test and "game control."
Here is the complete top 25:
The rankings, released Tuesday night, are the last of the season before the selection committee makes its final decisions on Sunday (11 a.m. EST, ESPN).