The top four are what will matter for the inaugural College Football Playoff. Alabama was number one, Oregon second, TCU up to third, and Florida State – last year’s national champion – dropping from third to fourth.
The big news in the poll was expected to be at number 4, where Mississippi State had rested last week. But the news was expected to be which of three one-loss teams – TCU, Baylor, or Ohio State would move in at four. The Bulldogs fell out after losing to Ole Miss in the regular season final Saturday.
Jeff Long, director of athletics at Arkansas and chairman of the committee, said that Florida State was “very close” to third and said the Seminoles’ struggles with unranked teams was the reason for the drop from third to fourth.
The final poll – the one that matters – will be announced at 11:30 a.m. CST Sunday following the end of the regular seasons, including conference championship games. Alabama will be playing Missouri Saturday in the Southeastern Conference title game, kickoff at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central) from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
In what has been termed “the polls that don’t matter,” the Associated Press poll of sportswriters and broadcasters and the Coaches Poll conducted by USA Today, as well as in the Scout.com Top 30, Alabama is ranked number one.
Ole Miss made the biggest jump in the poll, from 19th to 12th, while Mississippi State fell to 10th. UCLA had the biggest drop, eighth to 15th.
Ohio State, which will play No. 13 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, is fifth, but the Buckeyes will be playing with their third team quarterback after Ohio State lost J.T. Barrett to injury. The Buckeyes had lost all-star Braxton Miller before the start of the season.
Baylor, which handed TCU its only loss, is sixth and Arizona, which will play Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, is seventh.