How the CFB Playoff Will Look in December

Our weekly look at how the CFB Playoff will look in December based on the newest Top 25...

Ah yes. NOW we have the gnashing of teeth, the meltdowns, the cries of ignorance and bias.

The first two weeks of the College Football Playoff Rankings were a relative walk in the park, and no real surprises came from them.

Then the third set were released, and the cries from Tallahassee to Tuscaloosa to Waco were heard, loud and clear. One new team was in the final four, one old team was out, a one-loss team jumped an unbeaten and another team moved in to the No. 6 spot.

The top six:

1. Mississippi State
2. Oregon
3. Florida State
4. TCU
5. Alabama
6. Arizona State

For the complete rankings, Click Here.

Auburn dropped from No. 3 to No. 9, not quite the drop they sent Ole Miss on a week ago, but putting them in a very tough position, in need of a lot of help, to win the SEC West and more.

The lone newcomer to the Top Six this week was Arizona State, who moved from No. 9 to No. 6 after thumping Notre Dame.

Alabama stayed pat at No. 5 despite beating LSU in Baton Rouge.

TCU trounced Kansas State, at home, and moved up from No. 6 to No. 4.

That was the first big jump, the Horned Frogs not only moving up into the final four after a home win over a ranked team, but moving past a similar one-loss team who won a road game over a ranked team (Alabama) and staying ahead of another one-loss team who won a road game over a ranked team (Baylor), a team that TCU lost to earlier in the year.

But Alabama, should they beat Mississippi State this weekend in Tuscaloosa, will without question, move in to the top four next week. In fact, a convincing win could move them past everybody to the top.

Meanwhile, Baylor has to look at their remaining schedule and know they have to win convincingly, since their win over TCU is apparantly not enough to keep them in front of the Horned Frogs (but their loss to West Virginia is clearly worse for them than TCU's loss to the Bears).

The defending national champs, Florida State, continue to win ugly, and this week, from the looks of it, it bit them, with Oregon, despite a home loss to a ranked team, jumped the Noles after a convincing road win over another ranked team, while the Noles couldn't entirely put away a mediocre Virginia team.

But with Miami on the schedule this week, and Oregon with a bye, the Noles could move back ahead next week.

As it stands, the top six have four teams that lead their conference or division standings (Mississippi State, Oregon, Florida State, TCU and Arizona State) and one more that is in the mix for their division title despite a loss (Alabama).

So how will the final rankings look in December, and who will be in?

None of our projected final four from a week ago lost (in fact, our projected final four the past two weeks have been unblemished). Alabama clearly was tested against LSU, going to overtime, and Virginia gave Florida somewhat of a game as did Utah against Oregon, but Mississippi State, TCU and Arizona State all rolled.

Here is how things will play out, given last weekend's games and the schedule left to be played. One thing we know is that one of our final four teams will lose this weekend (since they play each other), but the committee is watching very, very closely, what is being done.

No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Mississippi State in New Orleans in the Sugar Bowl:

Like we've said the past two weeks, the Noles won't lose a game the rest of the year. They ultimately put Virginia away. Now, they were jumped in the rankings by Oregon, so we think they'll smell blood and rip a a rapidly improving Miami team on the road. Next up is a win over Boston College then they wrap up the regular season with a home game against Florida. While Florida might be playing for Will Muschamp's job at that point, the Noles are much better than the Gators. The Noles will win that game then beat Dukein the ACC Championship, again, and move on to the Sugar Bowl.

Mississippi State didn't have any problems with UT-Martin (which everyone would have had a problem with if they had). Now comes perhaps the biggest game in Mississippi State history, a road game to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. An Alabama team that has been here before many, many times, while Mississippi State is still relatively new to this whole big game thing. Ultimately, we think Alabama narrowly beats Mississippi State to take over the lead in the SEC West, but the loss won't derail the Bulldogs. They'll turn around and knock off Vanderbilt the following week then outlast Ole Miss in Oxford, but the loss to Alabama will keep them out of the SEC Championship Game, yet preserve their season at 11-1, which we think keeps them in the top four. And because there is going to be such an outcry from the Baylor-TCU controversy (since we think both teams win out), the committee will choose Mississippi State instead of picking one of TCU and Baylor.

No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Oregon in Pasadena in the Rose Bowl:

Alabama won't leave Tuscaloosa again the rest of the regular season. They host Mississippi State on Saturday, and being at home, we like the Tide to win this game and take control of the SEC West. Then comes an easy game against Western Carolina. Then comes their next toughest game of the season when they wrap up the regular season with Auburn at home in an Iron Bowl. But the Tide will win that because last Saturday officially ended Auburn's luck of every break going their way. Then the next week will be the SEC Championship Game in which they'll play Missouri. After they beat Missouri and win their 291st SEC title or so, the Tide will get one of the four spots in the playoffs and return to the scene of Nick Saban's first national title with the Tide.

Oregon has clinched the Pac-12 North for the first time since 2011 and the first time under Marcus Mariota. After beating Utah but losing some key players to injuries, one to a season ender (Pharoah Brown) and two All-Americans for an undetermined amount of time (Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Hroniss Grasu), the Ducks will welcome the bye weekend they have coming up. Then comes a home game, the likely final game for Mariota, against Pac-12 bottom dweller Colorado. And they'll end the regular season in Corvallis in the Civil War, against an Oregon State team that has fallen apart this year. A week later, they'll go back to Levi's Stadium for the second time this year and top Arizona State to move in to the playoffs and go back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since they won the conference in 2011.

National Championship Game in Arlington, Texas: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Alabama

Last week we said Florida State would play Alabama in the national championship game and we said that the week before too. So we're not changing that pick just yet.

The way Oregon has played the last couple of weeks, they could be a test for the Tide.

But the Tide will top the Ducks, something Lane Kiffin will be happy to see, since the last time he played the Ducks (as USC's head coach in 2012), they couldn't stop anything that game.

Florida State will get past Mississippi State while Bulldog fans are just happy that they won't lose Dan Mullen to the Noles' in-state rivals after he publicly turned them down in December.

The Noles and Tide, on a collision course all last year before the ill-fated Kick Six, will finally tangle for all the Dr. Pepper, and Florida State, behind Heisman Trophy runner-up Jameis Winston will beat the Tide for the first ever College Football Playoff title, fitting for the team that won the final BCS National Championship.


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