Ryan Knuppel  |  Wed 21st Nov   | NCAAF

For the second season in a row, an undefeated UCF team is in the conversation for a playoff spot. Elsewhere, one of the top NFL draft prospects is set to return to the field, and the finalists for the ESPN College Football Awards Show have been announced. Here are the latest news and notes in college football.

UCF Jumps to No. 9 in Latest CFP ranking

With last Saturday’s thrashing of Cincinnati, UCF has climbed up two spots and now sits in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings at No. 9. It is the highest ranking that a non-power conference school has ever received in the history of the CFP.

UCF jumped over No. 10 Ohio State, which was a major discussion point for the committee. Committee chair Rob Mullens discussed how it was a major talking point for him and all of the other rankers.

“We spent considerable time talking about UCF and Ohio State,” Mullens told ESPN on Tuesday. “While UCF may not have the depth of talent of Ohio State, the committee felt that right now, today after Week 12, UCF has the more all-around, complete team.”

The top four is the same, with Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Michigan leading the charge. Five through eight also remains unchanged, starting with No. 5 Georgia and followed by Oklahoma, LSU, and Washington State.

Oliver Expected to Play Friday

Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver is expected to suit up and play on Friday when Houston visits Memphis. Oliver has been out since suffering a bruised knee on October 20th against Navy. However, with the report coming from a source close to Oliver, Houston has made no official announcement.

“It’s just the same situation that we’ve had the last few weeks in terms of getting healthier every week, but he’s still day-to-day,” head coach Major Applewhite said.

“There have been practices in the last two to three weeks that he’s been able to participate in. I wouldn’t think that it would be bizarre if he was able to practice this week. Just gonna monitor and look at it day-to-day.”

Oliver, a junior, declared in the spring that he would forego his senior year and enter the 2019 NFL draft. So far this season, he has recorded 51 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss. He is widely-considered to be a top 10 pick.

Tagovailoa, Murray among finalists for awards

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray are each finalists for two different awards at the ESPN College Football Awards Show. The show will take place December 6th at the Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

Tagovailoa and Murray are each nominated for the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s best quarterback, and the Maxwell Award, awarded to the best player. Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew II is the third finalist for the O’Brien Award, while West Virginia quarterback Will Grier is the final nominee for the Maxwell Award.

On the defensive side, Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins were also each nominated for two awards, the Outland Trophy for the best lineman, and the Chuck Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year. Alabama’s Jonah Williams and Kentucky’s Josh Allen are the two other finalists for those awards, respectively.

It’s rivalry week in college football as the regular season is starting to draw to a close. Three of football’s top all-time rivalries take place this weekend, with No. 4 Michigan at No. 10 Ohio State, Auburn at No. 1 Alabama, and No. 3 Notre Dame at USC. Other big games include No. 6 Oklahoma at No. 13 West Virginia, No. 16 Washington at No. 8 Washington State, South Carolina at No. 2 Clemson, and No. 7 LSU at No. 22 Texas A&M.

Ryan Knuppel