The top-ranked conference champion from the Group of 5 leagues automatically earns a spot in one of the access bowl games.
The Panthers (7-4) are one of the keys that could help UCFpick the lock on the playoff.
Here are those final eight: No. 1 Alabama (11-0), No. 2 Clemson (11-0), No. 3 Notre Dame (11-0), No. 4 MI (10-1), No. 5 Georgia (10-1), No. 6 Oklahoma (10-1), No. 7 Washington State (10-1) and No. 10 Ohio State (10-1). The Buckeyes just barely held on for an overtime win against Maryland, opening the door for UCF. UCF 10. Ohio State 11.
The SEC has seven teams represented in the rankings, including Alabama, Georgia, LSU, No. 11 Florida, No. 15 Kentucky, No. 18 Mississippi State and No. 22 Texas A&M. That depends on what happens elsewhere this weekend and whether any unexpected teams earn automatic spots by winning their conference championship games next week.
Committee chairman Rob Mullens, the OR athletic director, said the group spend "considerable time" discussing Ohio State, which beat Maryland 52-51 in overtime on Saturday, and UCF, coming off a 38-13 victory against CIncinnati. The Big 12 could have a team move past UF.
Also that night, Washington State hosts No. 16 Washington (8-3) in the 112th Apple Cup.
As expected, there was no movement at the top of the rankings.
Alabama remained No. 1 atop the rankings, followed by No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 MI. Georgia, Oklahoma and LSU would be the first three teams out of the playoff bracket. Last week, the selection committee and the AP voters ranked two-loss Louisiana State above Ohio State, and it seems likely that this week, the committee will join the AP in slotting Central Florida above them.