CFP Rankings: Can Florida State Really be 4?

The latest College Football Playoff rankings - Week 6

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1. Barring something catastrophic, TCU is in
The CFPers have enjoyed a committee crush on TCU from the start of the process. The problem is that the resume is good, but it’s hard to justify a No. 3 ranking with just two wins over top 25 teams – No. 9 Kansas State and No. 20 Oklahoma – and with just five wins over bowl bound teams (unless Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma). Blowing out Texas 48-10 apparently was impressive enough to allow leap over Florida State from No. 5 all the way to the No. 3 spot, with the committee not caring one single lick about the 34-30 fight against a miserable Kansas team. With this gift of a ranking, no way, no how is TCU out if it beats Iowa State. All the Horned Frogs have to do is beat the worst team in the Big 12 34-10 – or something like that – and it’ll own a spot in the first playoff, even though it would technically lose the Big 12 championship tie-breaker to Baylor if the Bears beat Kansas State. The Big 12 is almost assured a playoff spot, but …

2. Your 2015 College Football Playoff might not have an SEC team
The biggest hole in the rankings all season long has been the chronic under-ranking of the SEC West. LSU being ranked 24th is way, way off, and there was never any credit given to Arkansas and Texas A&M, even though neither one has a bad loss on the lot. That meant Missouri’s key win over Arkansas meant a fat load of jack squat, moving up just one spot from 17 to 16 as the lowest-ranked Power 5 two-loss team. Being below No. 14 Georgia is fine – the Bulldogs won 34-0 in Columbia – but being behind 9-3 UCLA after it was awful in its big moment against Stanford is just wrong. So what happens if Missouri beats No. 1 Alabama? It’s one thing to beat the top team, but would the committee really push the Tigers all the way up from 16 to four if Oregon, TCU, Florida State and Ohio State all win? Can the committee really keep Alabama in the top four if it’s not the SEC champion? This could be really ugly if the Crimson Tide doesn’t take care of business. On the flip side …

3. Arizona is now in range for the playoff
There might be too much traffic ahead of Missouri, but that’s not a problem for No. 7 Arizona, who moved up four spots from No. 11 after its win over Arizona State. Missouri getting into the four with a win over No. 1 Alabama might be a reach, but Arizona getting in with a second win this year over Oregon isn’t. Would the committee put in a two-loss Arizona in over a one-loss, Big Ten champion Ohio State and an 11-1 Baylor? If it beats the No. 2 team, it’s probably going to happen.

4. Cardale Jones sort of doesn’t matter
The latest rankings are basically saying that Ohio State is coming into the Big Ten championship down 24 – it has to annihilate Wisconsin. All of the speculation since Saturday regarding Ohio State has surrounded the impact of the J.T. Barrett injury. As it turns out, with or without Barrett, the Buckeyes would almost certainly be in the No. 5 spot. That’s fine for OSU as long as the committee is taking a bit of a wait-and-see approach after OSU gets its shot at No. 13 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship, but the problem is TCU at No. 3. There’s no way the Buckeyes would get in over an unbeaten Florida State no matter what happens in the Big Ten championship, so for them to get in, the committee would have to decide to drop the Horned Frogs two spots down if no one in the top four loses – that’s not going to happen with a TCU double-digit win over Iowa State, if it happens.

5. No … undefeated Florida State will NOT be left out of the top four
Relax. Florida State fans believe their team should be No. 1, and a good case could be made that the only undefeated team in college football is getting disrespected at No. 4, but it doesn’t really matter. Even if the rankings hold up on Sunday and this turns out to be the top four, Florida State would probably have to play Alabama at some point anyway, so it might as well do it right away. The irrational fear, though, is that FSU could get knocked out of the top four entirely if it struggles in a close, ugly win over Georgia Tech and Ohio State obliterates Wisconsin and/or Baylor blows out No. 9 Kansas State. It can’t happen … can it? If an undefeated, defending national champ isn’t in the playoff when it’s the only team without a blemish – no, 2013 doesn’t matter or count, but it sort of should in terms of public perception – good luck selling the idea of a playoff committee ever again.

6. Michigan State at No. 8 is sort of important
Michigan State would’ve been in a playoff last season had there been one, and this year, with the No. 8 ranking – if it holds up – it would’ve been in an eight-team playoff if there was one. Yes, the Spartans’ two losses were to No. 2 Oregon and to No. 5 Ohio State, but where’s the beef? Where’s just one good win? There aren’t any victories over any top 25 teams, and there are just four victories over bowl bound teams – Nebraska, Maryland, Rutgers and Penn State. Ooooooh. It doesn’t matter – the committee likes the Spartans enough to move them up two spots to No. 8 and, at the moment, into a guaranteed spot in one of the New Year’s Six bowls. That could change, though, if there are a few upsets this weekend that would drop down some of the top teams but still keep them into the top ten. Considering Boise State – or the top Group of 5 champion – gets a spot in the New Year’s Six, and so does the No. 2 ACC team if Florida State is in the playoff, right now, Michigan State and No. 10 Mississippi State are looking okay for a big-time bowl.

7. At the moment, if done absolutely as correctly as possible based on what has happened so far, the rankings on Dec. 2 should be …

1. Alabama (CFP: No. 1)
2. Oregon (CFP: No. 2)
3. Florida State (CFP: No. 4)
4. Baylor (CFP: No. 6)
5. TCU (CFP: No. 3)
6. Arizona (CFP: No. 7)
7. Ohio State (CFP: No. 5)
8. Mississippi State (CFP: No. 10)
9. Georgia Tech (CFP: No. 11)
10. Georgia (CFP: No. 14)
11. Missouri (CFP: No. 16)
12. Auburn (CFP: No. 15)
13. Kansas State (CFP: No. 9)
14. Michigan State (CFP: No. 10)
15. Oklahoma (CFP: No. 20)
16. Arkansas (CFP: Not Ranked)
17. LSU (CFP: No. 24)
18. Ole Miss (CFP: No. 12)
19. Wisconsin (CFP: 13)
20. Clemson (CFP: No. 18)
21. UCLA (CFP: 15)
22. Arizona State (CFP: No. 17)
23. Minnesota (CFP: Not Ranked)
24. USC (CFP: Not Ranked)
25. Louisville (CFP: No. 21)

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