The College Football Playoff is finally here, and we're all a little excited. Every media outlet in America short of the Food Network has been putting out its weekly top four since late August. But the actual selection committee - the only group whose opinion actually matters - decided to wait until late October to release its first set of rankings, so we did, too.
With the first set of rankings due out tomorrow, each of us has given our top four teams and our last two out.
I’m normally not a “chalk” type of guy, but for this week I’m in agreement with the AP consensus top four (although not in the same order).
No. 1: A clear No. 1 seed in my opinion. Have been dominant at times and have withstood all of the challenges against excellent competition.
No. 2: FSU is undefeated. Hasn’t always been pretty, but they are undefeated. Remain that way and they are in the playoff. One loss though, and I think they will be on the outside looking in.
No.3: Auburn’s record, in my opinion, is the strongest of the one loss teams. Auburn’s wins at Kansas State (6-1, 4-0 in the Big 12), vs. LSU (41-7), and their only loss coming at Mississippi State stacks up better than the rest…at this point. Auburn will have to prove their ranking from here out as they still have to go to Ole Miss, have A&M at home, at Georgia and at Alabama. If Gus’ crew can win out, there is no question they are in.
No.4: Alabama is 7-1, with their only loss at Ole Miss in a very tight ballgame. Alabama has wins over West Virginia (6-2, 4-1 in the Big 12), Florida, at Arkansas, a 59-0 skunking of A&M and at Tennessee, but the schedule gets tougher from here. Nick brings his guys to LSU, then has Mississippi State and Auburn at home. Again, win’em all and you’re in. Won’t be easy, though.
Last two out: and
Notre Dame’s only loss coming at Florida State is stronger than Oregon’s loss coming at home against Arizona. Michigan State has only played one bad half of football this season (2H at Oregon). Ole Miss’ only loss came at night in Death Valley. If the Rebels pull it together and win out, they are a lock for the playoff. With 11 minutes to play, TCU was up 21 on Baylor…and lost. That’s unfortunate. The Horned Frogs are at West Virginia this weekend and they have Kansas State back home. Two wins there and they have a strong chance of finishing 11-1.
No. 1: Two teams have held a double-digit lead in every game this season, Mississippi State and Marshall. The have overcome a lackluster non-conference schedule (Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama) by making Auburn look average, earning a win at LSU that has aged like Apple stock, pummeling Texas A&M, and earning a nice road win at Kentucky on Saturday.
No. 2: The discussion of how 2014 Florida State isn't 2013 Florida State has overshadowed the fact that this year's bunch has a pretty darn good resume: a neutral site win over Oklahoma State (though the value of this win is falling, a win over a really good Clemson team without Jameis Winston, and last week's defeat of previously undefeated Notre Dame.
No. 3: If Oregon's 46-27 win over Michigan Stae isn't the best non-conference win of the season, then it's definitely the second best. The Ducks are the only one-loss contender to suffer its setback at home, but it was to a top 15 team that needed some help from the zebras to get there. And they followed that up by demolishing UCLA and Washington, and pulling away from Cal on the road on Friday night.
No. 4: Oregon may have the best overall non-conference win, but Auburn's 20-14 win at Kansas State is definitely the best road non-conference win in college football. Auburn's only loss is to the No. 1 team in the country, and they beat LSU in a way that not even Mississippi State did. I gave Oregon the nod over Auburn because the Ducks break the hypothetical tie with a hypothetical conference championship.
Last two out: and
Ole Miss is a clear No. 5 in my opinion by virtue of their head-to-head win over Alabama. My biggest struggle was who to place at No. 6. Kansas State is the de facto Big 12 champion at this point. Michigan State is the de facto Big Ten champ, suffered its only loss on the road to the No. 3 team in the country. TCU has looked every bit like a top five four team except for one 11-minute stretch against Baylor. In the end, I flip-flopped from last night to this morning and chose K-State over the other two because I believe winning at Oklahoma is more impressive than anything the Frogs or Spartans have accomplished to this point.
No. 1: I think that it's going to be hard for anyone to debate that Mississippi belongs here in the top spot. Their win over Kentucky on Saturday shows that they can win even when playing ugly, and bearing the weight and distractions of being the #1 team in the country. They still have Arkansas, Alabama and the Egg Bowl match up, but the toughest part of the schedule is arguably behind them.
No. 2: The most impressive thing for me about Florida State so far this season has been how they've been able to block out the Jameis Winston distractions and just play high quality football. Even if it hasn't always been for four quarters, the Seminoles always find a way to win. You may be able to debate that they aren't the top team in the country, but they're definitely playoff material...then we'll see how good these guys really are.
No. 3: Granted, this isn't the same Auburn team as last year, but the SEC West also looks a WHOLE lot different. At this point, their only loss is to the #1 team in the country but they also have Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama still on the schedule so it's going to be tough for them to stay here come week 15. But if the playoffs started today, they're in.
No. 4: As much as I want to put Sparty here, Oregon deserves the number 4 spot at this point in time. But with their next two games against Utah and Stanford, that could change in a hurry.
Last two out: and
I'm prepared to catch some heat for this one, but I think Sparty will end up proving me right by the end of the season. Michigan State's loss to Oregon is their only blemish, and if they can take care of business next weekend against Ohio State, and win the Big Ten title, they'll have a solid argument to be in the top 4 at the end of the year.
As for 'Bama, they stumbled against Ole Miss, but they always seem to raise their level of play after a midseason loss. They'll continue to mesh and play better and better as the year goes on.