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Ohio State’s Shaun Wade celebrates his interception and touchdown against Indiana during the second half of a game on Nov. 21. The Buckeyes had their last game postponed by COVID-19, but still held onto the fourth spot in the College Football Playoff Rankings on Tuesday.

Ohio State held on to the fourth spot in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night after having its previous game canceled, landing behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Clemson for a second straight week.

The selection committee’s top seven teams were unchanged from last week’s rankings after the playoff contenders either won comfortably or didn’t play because of COVID-19 issues.

Texas A&M (6-1) was in fifth and Florida (7-1) sixth.

Ohio State (4-0) had to cancel its game at Illinois last week because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the program. It was the second game of the season the Buckeyes have missed out on. One more cancellation would leave them ineligible for the Big Ten championship game and unable to play more than six regular-season games.

No. 7 Cincinnati (8-0) also had its last game canceled. The Bearcats are next scheduled to play Dec. 12 at Tulsa.

The College Football Playoff has set no minimum number of games played to be eligible for the playoff. It’s just going to be up to the selection committee to figure out how many is too few.

“There is a discrepancy sometimes between a team that plays eight or nine games and a team that’s played three or four games and frankly that’s a problem (in ranking teams),” said selection committee chairman Gary Barta, who is Iowa’s athletic director.

Barta said the committee discussed ranking Texas A&M ahead of Ohio State, but for now the Buckeyes and their potent offense led by quarterback Justin Fields are holding down the final playoff spot.

“When those two teams were put side-by-side this morning and last night, there just wasn’t enough there to put Texas A&M ahead of Ohio State,” Barta said.

Texas A&M is coming off a 20-7 victory against LSU that was played in a rainy and windy conditions.

Georgia was eighth and Iowa State and Miami rounded out the top 10. Oklahoma was 11th, followed by Indiana and BYU.

The Cougars, who are hoping for a New Year’s Six bowl, edged up one spot.

OHIO STATE is resuming full football practices again in preparation for Saturday’s game at Michigan State.

Ohio State said in a one-sentence statement that the team would “resume organized team activities” on Tuesday afternoon.

The Buckeyes will do so while managing COVID-19 issues, and will be without Coach Ryan Day, who tested positive last week. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson is assuming head coaching duties for the week and for Saturday’s game in East Lansing.

SOUTHERN CAL: No. 17 USC (3-0) resumed conditioning workouts Tuesday as Coach Clay Helton expressed cautious optimism they will be able to play Washington State (1-1) on Sunday.

“By moving the game from Friday to Sunday, it allows us to garner the adequate number of players that we need at a certain position to be able to play this game,” Helton said.

Four players tested positive last week and another seven are in quarantine because of contact tracing. Those absences put USC under the minimum number of scholarship players established by the Pac-12, leading to its first cancellation of the abbreviated season. All available players tested negative Tuesday, which allowed USC to resume team activities. Another round of negative tests Wednesday will lead to a return to practice in full pads, Helton said.

As long as there are no further positive tests Helton expects to have enough players available to host the Cougars, who have not played since Nov. 14 because of their own issues with player availability caused by the coronavirus.

IOWA STATE will allow about 15,000 fans at Jack Trice Stadium for the Cyclones’ football game against West Virginia on Saturday.

Iowa State running back Breece Hall celebrates the team’s win over Texas on Nov. 27 in Austin, Texas. Iowa State will allow 15,000 fans for Saturday’s home game against West Virginia. Eric Gay/Associated Press

Athletic director Jamie Pollard also announced about 1,400 fans will be allowed at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday for a women’s basketball game against No. 1 South Carolina and a men’s game against DePaul.

Pollard said the decision was made after a discussion with university leaders following reviews of state and local COVID-19 positivity trends and hospitalization rates. Only families and guests of athletes and staff could attend the Nov. 21 football game against Kansas State and the first three basketball games at Hilton.

OKLAHOMA: Former football coach Bob Stoops is helping coach the Sooners again – at least for now – because of coronavirus issues.

The Sooners had to postpone last Saturday’s game against West Virginia and temporarily paused organized team activities due to recent positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing throughout the program. The situation affected the assistant coaches, leading Oklahoma Coach Lincoln Riley ask Stoops for help. Riley said Stoops was on the field helping coach on Tuesday.

“It was great,” Riley said. “It’s nice. It’s been kind of in our hip pocket this whole time. If we had any staff member that fell off, we’ve got a Hall of Famer sitting on the bench. So that’s a pretty good bench when you can call that guy up.”

Stoops, 60, led the Sooners to 10 conference championships and a national title in 18 seasons and had a career record of 190-48 at Oklahoma. Stoops was able to jump in immediately because he has remained an institutional staff member since 2017, when he retired as head coach and Riley moved up from offensive coordinator to replace him.

Riley said the two still talk regularly.

“I always want to lean on him for any observations he has or experience going through different situations,” Riley said.

ARKANSAS: Running back Rakeem Boyd has opted out of the rest of this season to focus on preparing for the NFL draft.

Boyd, a senior, rushed for 2,176 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 52 passes for 358 yards in his career for the Razorbacks. Last season was his best – he ran for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns.

He was named to this year’s preseason All-SEC second team, but health issues limited his action, and he finished with 309 yards rushing and three scores.


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