The College Football Playoff top four teams remained the same in the latest rankings revealed on Tuesday. Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Mississippi State stayed in the four coveted spots with one week remaining in the regular season. The next three teams stayed unchanged as well with TCU, Ohio State, and Baylor at 5-7.
The biggest drop was Mississippi, who fell 11 spots from No. 8 to 19 following their 38-0 loss to unranked Arkansas. UCLA jumped to eighth in Ole Miss spots. Michigan State and Georgia round out the top 10. The top four teams are far from being locks for the College Football Playoff. All four teams have big games ahead of them before the final rankings are revealed in two weeks.
Non-Power five members Boise State and Marshall made their debuts in the top 25 at No. 23 and 24, respectively. They become the first teams not associated with the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC to make the top 25 of College Football Playoff rankings. Marshall is one of two undefeated teams remaining in the Football Bowl Subdivision – Florida State is the other. Where those two teams rank is significant. The highest ranked team of what is called the “Group of Five” receives an automatic bid in one of the six major college football bowl games.
As for the top four teams, it is fitting the holiday shopping season is approaching because this week may be referred to as “Black Saturday.” It may be daunting task to keep the College Football Playoff top four teams the same after this week’s slate, starting with Alabama, who will look to clinch the SEC West and a spot in the SEC Championship Game when it hosts Auburn.
Alabama knows too well how it feels to have Auburn rip away their chances at a national championship. It was just last year when the Tigers clipped the Crimson Tide on Chris Davis’ 109-yard touchdown return off an Alabama missed field goal. Besides, this rivalry needs no more added motivation.
Oregon, who has already clinched the Pac-12 North and a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game, will travel to Corvallis, to face Oregon State in the latest chapter of the Civil War. Oregon has won six straight in the series, but the each game has been far from decisive.
The Ducks needed a Marcus Mariota touchdown pass with 29 seconds remaining in the game to clip the Beavers 36-35 last year in Eugene. Oregon State has added motivation. A win makes them bowl eligible. They have played tough much of the season, including taking a strong Utah team to double overtime before succumbing to the Utes. It was just two weeks ago the Beavers stunned an Arizona State team that was ranked No. 6 at the time of the game.
On paper, Florida does not seem like a challenge for Florida State. But considering the way Seminoles have played the past five weeks, nothing is impossible. The Gators are playing for their ousted head coach Will Muschamp for presumably the last time. To beat their hated rivals and ruin their undefeated season and a chance to repeat as national champions would be an added incentive.
Ironically, Mississippi State sits arguably in the best position of the four teams with a playoff spot. The Bulldogs are second in the SEC West thanks to a 25-20 loss to Alabama. If Alabama wins Saturday over Auburn, they clinch the division, leaving the Bulldogs out of a chance to play for the SEC Championship. That may be a good thing. All the Bulldogs need to do is handle their business at Oxford and sit pretty while they hear their name be announced as a participant of the College Football Playoff.
There is a lot riding on Saturday before anyone can assume the College Football Playoff top four teams will be the same by the time the final rankings are announced. TCU, Ohio State, and Baylor still have plenty of wiggle room to get in, considering they will take care of business as the season comes to a close.
Commentary by King Motley
Photo by Zennie Abraham – Flickr License