We released our first brackets last Monday, the College Football Playoff selection committee did the same on Tuesday and, despite all four of our brackets having the same teams at Nos. 1 and 2, none of us matched on teams three and four. Maybe it's a sign that we just need to increase the sample size and let things play out, or it's a harbinger of chaos coming on Selection Sunday.
In advance of Tuesday's second bracket reveal, here's how each of us see things stacking up.
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 (6-3, 4-2 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). 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: Mississippi State grinded its way to a win when things weren't running on all cylinders, which was good. But then, I'm not sure things will run on all cylinders again, at least not the way they were against the LSU-Texas A&M-Auburn triumvirate. Getting from 8-0 to 13-0 will be a mighty struggle but, then again, it's supposed to be.
No. 2: Florida State once again only played its best when it absolutely had to, but the 'Noles hadn't looked this good all season. They blew away a top five defense and a Bobby Petrino offense to the tune of 42-10 over the last 30 minutes and change.
No. 3: I'm moving Auburn up on the strength of that win in Oxford, which moved the Tigers' count of top-10 road wins to two - matching the rest of the nation combined.
No. 4: The Stanford win was a nice symbolic gesture, but this week's trip to Salt Lake City is much more challenging in the 2014 landscape. Oregon needs to be be Arizona State and Michigan State fans on Saturday, as both host big toss up games against Notre Dame and Ohio State, respectively, that could send the Ducks' resume trending one direction or the other.
Last two out: and
Last week's rankings told us the committee isn't taking conference championships into account until they've actually been won, but I'm projecting ahead a little bit here, which is why you don't see Alabama in this space. On top of that, Alabama's best win (vs. West Virginia) is inferior both the Wildcats' (at Oklahoma) and the Spartans' (vs. otherwise undefeated Nebraska) best wins.
No. 1: Dan Mullen's group showed on Saturday that they are human, and have heard all the chatter surrounding them being the #1 team. They also dealt with those distractions and won without their best effort, which is always a good thing. Remember though, they still have Arkansas, Alabama and Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl match up, but the toughest part of their schedule is in the rear view mirror
No. 2: Florida State is last year's Auburn to a degree. They can play mediocre football for a quarter or two, and still manage to find a way to win. That keeps them in my #2 spot for now, but a single loss might drop them completely out for me. We'll see how good these guys really if they make it in one of the four playoff slots at the year's end.
No. 3: Really, really good (or lucky) win on Saturday for Auburn against a solid Ole Miss team. I had them in this spot last week, and if it weren't for two undefeated teams ahead of them, they'd likely be higher. The Tigers still have to travel to Georgia and Alabama before it's all said and done, and have a hot/cold Texas A&M squad this weekend.
No. 4: Oregon was reluctantly in the #4 spot for me last week, but they really proved their worthiness this weekend with a dominating win over Stanford. It would be scary to think of how highly everyone would view these Ducks without that loss to Arizona.
Last two out: and
If Mark Dantonio's Spartans can take care of Ohio State this weekend with College GameDay in East Lansing, and go on to win the Big Ten title, they'll be waiting in the shadows for any of those top 4 teams to slip up and earn their way into the playoff picture. I'll be there for a firsthand account of the action Saturday.
TCU impressed the crap out of me this weekend with a gutty win against WVU. Their resume with quality wins over WVU (who beat Baylor when they were #4), Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, not to mention the 82 point explosion against Texas Tech and shootout loss to Baylor is impressive, and they just squeak by Alabama this week because the Tide had a bye, and I couldn't possibly keep them here in good conscious with TCU playing so well.