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article imageOp-Ed: FSU near-upset shows uncertain College Football Playoff rankings

By Nate Smith     Oct 31, 2014 in Sports
Second-ranked Florida State remained unbeaten and situated on the inside of the College Football Playoff with a double-digit come-from-behind victory Thursday against the Louisville Cardinals.
The Seminoles overcame a 21-point deficit at 25th-ranked Louisville to avoid a loss that quite likely would've knocked them on the outside of the four-team tournament field.
The inaugural 25-team College Football Playoff ranking was introduced Tuesday by a committee of 12 individuals: 11 men, and Condaleeza Rice former United States Secretary of State and U.S. National Security Advisor.
Former NFL quarterback Archie Manning also was to have served on the committee, but stepped down recently because of some health complications.
A top 25 is selected, but only the top four spots really matter in the end as those are the squads that ultimately will square off in a pair semifinal matchups to help determine a National Champion.
Naturally, the lone two undefeated teams, aforementioned FSU and top-ranked Mississippi State headline the first week's playoff rankings. They are joined this week by the universities of Auburn and Mississippi, each with one loss.
Trailing that quartet is a hodgepodge of mostly one-loss teams each with its own case to make for a crack at the crystal football.
And either Auburn or Ole Miss will endure a second defeat this weekend, as those teams play each other Saturday night in Oxford, Miss.
Updated playoff rankings will be released each Tuesday through the remainder of the season, until the bowl game and playoff matchups are determined, and it's quite likely the four teams participating in major college football's first ever playoff will not be the same four that were announced last Tuesday.
For example, Auburn, which fell narrowly to FSU in last year's championship, was ranked ninth this time last year after beginning the season unranked entirely.
Winner of Saturday's Auburn-Ole Miss tussle maintains an inside track to one of those top-four spots. For either, a win over another top-five team would be a major resume builder.
The loser, though, likely is dismissed from playoff consideration with a second loss.
As it stands, the Southeastern Conference has three teams in the tournament. That number may not change, even if the individual representatives do.
Currently on the outside looking in is sixth-ranked Alabama, and 11th ranked Georgia, each with only one loss.
Alabama, in particular, is in a position to probably get selected for a playoff spot should it win out. The Crimson Tide in November face showdowns with Mississippi State and Auburn, as well as a primetime game against two-loss, #19 LSU on the road.
Georgia will get a crack at Auburn, and also has rivalry games with Florida and Georgia Tech remaining on its schedule.
Regional loyalties aside, this Midwesterner takes no issue with three SEC teams in the College Football Playoff.
Sure, those squads are afforded an extra bye week in the form of a late season scrimmage against an NCAA sub-division also-ran, but games like Saturday's Ole Miss-Auburn matchup; and Nov. 15 when Mississippi State-Alabama and Auburn-Georgia will be playing at the same time are tournament semifinals games unto themselves.
Any guesses as to 10th ranked Notre Dame's opponent that day? The University of Northwestern, which has amassed a 3-4 record competing in the dead and decaying skeleton once known as the Big 10 Conference.
Of particular interest, I think, is how the committee will weigh two-loss SEC teams against teams with only a single loss such as Oregon, TCU, Michigan State, Kansas State, Arizona or Baylor.
Two one-loss Pac 12 teams unmentioned above Arizona State and Utah compete Saturday night, and Utah also has a game remaining against Oregon.
The Pac 12, like the SEC and Big 10, will have conference championship games. For quality teams in talent-lean conferences like Michigan State, that's one more opportunity to demonstrate dominance, and credibility as one of the four best teams in college football.
The Big 12 no longer stages a formal championship game, and so the Nov. 8 game between TCU and Kansas State could go a long way to determining if one of those teams squeezes into the top four, or whether or not the Big 12 will have a representative at all.
In addition to Thursday night's scare, Florida State has also survived narrow wins over Clemson and Notre Dame. The Seminoles will also have to endure an ACC Conference final game, but they do not play a ranked opponent over the last four regular season games.
Unless those squads navigating the SEC gauntlet beat themselves entirely into a horrible, bloody two-less mess, I believe that conference gets three teams into the playoffs, alongside Florida State.
Which three make the playoffs?
If a history of November college football upsets are any indication, it probably won't be all three of the teams that are currently in.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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