The first ever college football playoff rankings were released last week and they were totally meaningless. I don't mean that they weren't well meaning and probably pretty accurate. I just mean that since three of the top four teams are in the same division of their conference, there is no way for the current top four to survive all the way to the playoffs. There are just so many one-loss teams that can make it in by running the table. It's impossible for Ole Miss, Auburn and Alabama to win out since they have yet to play each other. Even top-ranked Mississippi State still has Alabama and Ole Miss left on their schedule, not to mention a potential match-up with one-loss Georgia in the SEC Championship game. And that's just the SEC West. I could go on and on if I go down the list of the rest of the Big Five conferences. So you can have your weekly rankings, I'll tune in on Dec. 7 for the final announcement.
Overall: 147 - 60
Thursday night (from an earlier blog):
(2) Florida State (7 - 0) 27 @ (25) Louisville (6 - 2) 24: It's popular to think that this is the game that will disrupt the Seminoles' run to the playoffs. I disagree, but it will probably be close. Until Jameis Winston leaves Florida State or is benched for one of his many indiscretions, I think he is good enough to lead his team to an undefeated season. If so, they will most likely be the only one without a loss, given the tough schedule that Mississippi State faces the rest of the way. Look for Florida State to find a way to keep their streak alive on the road against a team that will be very dangerous in the ACC in seasons to come.
Arkansas (4 - 4) 24 @ (1) Mississippi State (7 - 0) 31: The Razorbacks have forced Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama to give it their all, yet still lack an SEC victory. With their running game, Arkansas should be able to stay with anyone, as long as they stay with it. Against Georgia, the Hogs inexplicably abandoned the ground game on first down. I doubt that happens in Starkville, but I don't see Arkansas stopping the Bulldogs.
(3) Auburn (6 1) 20 @ (4) Ole Miss (7 - 1) 17: This is one BIG football game. Of course, there are a lot of BIG games this week, but this is definitely a playoff elimination contest. Auburn has been in a lot of important game the last couple of years and has only failed to win a couple of them. Ole Miss hasn't been in many and has really only prevailed in a single game of this caliber, coming from behind to upend Alabama.
Stanford (5 - 3) 23 @ (5) Oregon (7 - 1) 28: The Ducks are one of my picks to be in the final four. Their loss to Arizona at home was a bit of fluke. Stanford doesn't have the same team as the past few years, so I don't see them being able to outscore Oregon.
(7) TCU (6 - 1) 37 @ (20) West Virginia (6 - 2) 40: TCU put up 82 points, yes, that number is correct, last week. Now they head to a top ten team's nightmare of a venue in Morgantown. West Virginia is on a roll and are playing a lot better than when they lost to Oklahoma earlier in the season. I'm still not convinced TCU can outscore everyone they play. I'll stick with the Mountaineers is a big upset.
Oklahoma State (5 - 3) 16 @ (9) Kansas State (6 - 1) 28: Kansas State's lone loss to this point was a close one to Auburn. If Auburn and the Wildcats continue to win, it could set up a semifinal matchup in the playoffs. I don't count either one out at this point. But if K-State is going to run the table, their defense is going to have to step up big against Baylor, TCU and West Virginia, all on the road. They should be able to get by the Cowboys this week to set up the murderous finish to their schedule.
(10) Notre Dame (6 - 1) 30 vs. Navy (4 - 4) 21 in Landover, Md.: The Irish lost a heartbreaker to Florida State and then got shuffled down to tenth in the playoff committee rankings. This could go one of two ways in my opinion. Notre Dame could come out on fire and overwhelm the Middies, or they could come out flat and let Navy squeak out an upset victory. I think the Irish have too much for a pretty good Navy team that is a cut below their recent teams, so I'll go with the former.
Florida (3 -3) 20 vs. (11) Georgia (6 -1) 34 in Jacksonville, FL: This is one of the classic college football rivalries played in a neutral site every year. The Bulldogs seem to have caught fire since the Todd Gurley suspension, which will end after Saturday's game. Florida is probably preparing for a coaching change, as a bowl game would be a huge accomplishment, requiring at least one win against Georgia, South Carolina or Florida State, while assuming they take care of business against Vanderbilt.
(12) Arizona (6 - 1) 37 @ (22) UCLA (6 - 2) 34: The Pac 12 is as wide open as any Big Five conference, with a lot of depth and unpredictable finishes. UCLA needs a win to stay in the race for the division crown, while Arizona can stay on pace for a regular season showdown with Arizona State to get to the conference championship game. I'd like to lean toward UCLA at home, but they just haven't been consistent enough on defense for me to back the Bruins.
Kansas (2 - 5) 13 @ (13) Baylor (6 - 1) 41: This one could get a little ugly. The Bears have to be a bit motivated by dropping to 13th in the playoff committee's ranking.
(17) Utah (6 - 1) 20 @ (14) Arizona State (6 - 1) 37: This is when we'll find out just how good Utah is. I think they'll get rolled in Tempe. But that's just me.
Purdue (3 - 5) 17 @ (15) Nebraska (7 - 1) 35: The Cornhuskers only have one loss, a close one at Michigan State. They just keep chugging along, staying in contention for the Big Ten title and maybe more.
Illinois (4 - 4) 24 @ (16) Ohio State (6 - 1) 34: Right now, the Buckeyes are being held down by their loss to a Virginia Tech team that can't seem to find any momentum while struggling to a 4 - 4 record. Illinois isn't in the same class with Ohio State, but they could catch the Buckeyes looking ahead to what is definitely a playoff elimination game at Michigan State. I think Ohio State will prevail, but it may be a bit tougher than they think.
(18) Oklahoma (5 - 2) 34 @ Iowa State (2 - 5) 23: The Sooners are out of the playoff picture, but that doesn't mean they're not a pretty good team .Iowas State has been able to fashion an occasional upset at home, but not this time.
(23) East Carolina (6 - 1) 30 @ Temple 21: The Pirates should feel good that Marshall is nowhere to be found in the playoff rankings, which is the way it should be. But they better focus on Temple, which is a dangerous team that's coming off two road losses. ECU is the better team, but that doesn't always translate into a win.
(24) Duke (6 - 1) 28 @ Pittsburgh (4 - 4) 17: Other than a loss to Miami, Duke has played solidly on both sides of the ball and has won because of a quick defense and efficient offense. Now they head to Pittsburgh, losers of four of their last five games, but still dangerous at home.
Boston College (5 - 3) 20 @ Virginia Tech (4 - 4) 24: The Hokies appeared to quit on coach Frank Beamer last week after repeatedly turning the ball over in a 30 - 6 loss to Miami. I think we'll see a different Hokie club today against the Eagles. We better, or the whispers about nudging Beamer toward retirement will get a little louder.
Virginia (4 - 4) 20 @ Georgia Tech (6 - 2) 27: The Yellow Jackets have been a bit inconsistent and Virginia is coming off consecutive close losses. I don't think the Cavs will be able to stop Georgia Tech's running game enough times to pull out the win.
Texas (3 - 5) 37 @ Texas Tech (3 - 5) 34: The only thing that's sure about this game is that a lot of points will be scored. even by Texas, which is ranked 110th in scoring offense. Of course, Texas Tech is dead last in the FBS in points allowed per game, due mostly to last week's embarrassing 82 points given up to TCU. This is tough pick, but I'm going to guess the Longhorns will make some key stops to get the win.
California (4 - 4) 34 @ Oregon St. (4 - 3) 40: Cal has lost their last three while the Beavers have dropped three of their last four. Not exactly a lot of momentum being brought into this game. When in doubt, I take the home team.
Maryland (5 - 3) 19 @ Penn St. (4 - 3) 24: The Nittany Lions can really play defense, and I think they'll stop their three game skid with a victory over Maryland today if they can carry the momentum from last week's unsuccessful comeback against Ohio State.