Some Stay Alive, Some Don’t in Race for College Football’s Playoff

Marcus Mariota and the Ducks crushed rival Stanford and now may be in line for the top four if the committee so chooses.

Tomorrow evening the 12-person college football playoff committee will unveil its’ latest rankings. What we know for sure is that the top four will have a different look as one of the top four from last week went down. What will also be different are the teams lining up behind the top four so let’s examine those and more from this past weekend’s action.

The Top Four

We already know that the number two team, Florida State, survived a 21-point deficit to defeat Louisville Thursday night 42-31. I believe there’s a strong chance you could see Florida State move to the top spot and I say that because…

Last week’s top team Mississippi State struggled at home to defeat Arkansas 17-10 Saturday night. Despite Dak Prescott’s career high 331 passing yards, the Bulldogs still needed an interception in the end zone to thwart the Razorbacks. While any SEC win is a good one, the Hogs have still not won an SE game under Head Coach Bret Bielema.

That’s a string of 13 straight games. To be fair, this is a much better Arkansas team than last year’s version but I have to wonder if the pressure of being the nation’s top team is getting to Mississippi State.

The other two teams in the initial four-team rankings played each other Saturday in another classic SEC game as Auburn knocked off Ole Miss 35-31 in Oxford. As I suggested earlier in the week, I thought the Tigers would be the first to gain over 20 points against the Rebels’ defense and that they did. What this means for Ole Miss is quite simple.

With two losses, both of which were to SEC West opponents, the Rebels are no longer going to be a factor. Even if everyone else in the division ends up with two losses, I think they’ll be on the outside looking in. They have a road trip to Arkansas and a home date with rival Mississippi State to prove they belong.

For Auburn, they have solidified their position among the top four teams. The Tigers shouldn’t have trouble with Texas A&M this coming weekend at home, but they still have to deal with away games at Georgia and Alabama.

On the outside looking in

Trevone Boykin has the Horned Frogs in prime position for a playoff spot if they can remain unbeaten the rest of the way.

The one-loss teams are a vast array of teams and chief among them to take the place of Ole Miss would have to be Oregon if we are using common sense. They are currently the fifth team and defeated nemesis Stanford  45-16 Saturday night. Common Sense and college football haven’t always gone hand in hand though and that means the team in the sixth spot, idle Alabama, could jump in there as well.

Not to be outdone though are several other teams with just one loss.

Could TCU jump into the top four with a last-second win at West Virginia?

Michigan State was idle but now hosts fellow one-loss team Ohio State on Saturday night in East Lansing.

Notre Dame was thought to be the one-loss team who was shafted the most in the initial rankings but then surrendered a 21-point lead to Navy before winning 49-39. My guess is that their win won’t resonate much with the committee.

We cannot forget about Kansas State either. The Wildcats throttled the fading Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday. K-State faces the toughest gauntlet of any top-ranked team however as they have four games remaining and three are on the road against TCU, West Virginia and Baylor. Should the Wildcats navigate that to win the Big 12 it would be hard not to consider them for the playoff.

Other teams that are out

Georgia who laid a massive egg against Florida… Arizona who dropped a 17-7 game to UCLA.

Possible Long-Shots

Nebraska. If they can get past Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota and get into the Big Ten title game then who knows? Arizona State. They survived against Utah Saturday and can gain serious cred if they knock off Notre Dame this week.