Now it's getting real.
Florida State dropped, TCU moved up and put more space between them and Baylor.
This next week will be VERY interesting.
With Mississippi State's loss, we knew a new team would move in to the top four, and TCU was the pick.
What no one probably expected, though, was for the Horned Frogs to leap past unbeaten Florida State.
This week's top six was fascinating.
The top six:1. Alabama
4. Florida State
5. Ohio State
For the complete rankings, Click Here.
This news has us recalibrating things a bit. For weeks, we said the final four would be Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and then Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs first loss to Alabama had us move Ohio State up, thinking the committee would split the debate between TCU and Baylor by picking the Buckeyes and not even having to worry about ticking off one of the two Big 12 schools, but irking the entire conference.
Clearly, their love for TCU means that the Horned Frogs, barring a collapse against Iowa State (where they're more than a four-touchdown favorite), will be in the playoffs. It might take Baylor beating Kansas State by 100 to make an impression big enough to move past the Horned Frogs.
And now Florida State is in peril of not making the final four. We do think if they beat Georgia Tech, they're in. It would be a shock if they weren't. But this committee hasn't been friendly with the Noles at all.
The Buckeyes are down to their third-string quarterback (from the summer), and even if they beat Wisconsin for the Big Ten title, it likely won't be enough to move past the top four if they all win. And they have their loss to Virginia Tech to blame, otherwise, there is a good chance that an unbeaten Ohio State would be No. 1 in the country and not dealt the same fate the Noles have, even though they're unblemished.
So now, our Final Four has changed, and so have the results. All of the top four are favorites this weekend, with three of them playing in conference championship games (Alabama, Oregon and Florida State).
When the announcement is made on Sunday morning of who is in the playoffs, how will it look and where will they go?
Here is how things will play out, given last weekend's games and the schedule left to be played this weekend.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Florida State in New Orleans in the Sugar Bowl:
The national championship game we thought we'd get last year and the national championship game this column has been predicting since mid-October looks like it will instead be a semifinal game in the Big East.
Alabama got a spectacular performance from Amari Cooper to wrap up the SEC West, college football's best division and now return to Atlanta after a one-year hiatus. Missouri will be present some challenges defensively for the Tide, but their offense hasn't been great this year and has struggled at times to score points. We think Alabama rolls Missouri (the Tigers probably still get a New Year's Six bowl) and moves on to the title game.
The Seminoles haven't lost since November of 2012. And yet, if the BCS still existed, there is a chance the defending champions, unbeaten and all, wouldn't be playing for the title. Its a good thing for the playoffs, sort of, because the Noles are still alive (albeit barely). They escaped another game (a season long trend), and beat Florida and now head back to the ACC title game for the third straight year. Florida State will get a test from Georgia Tech just because every team is a test for the Noles. But Florida State will pull it out and hold on to the top four spot.
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU in Pasadena in the Rose Bowl:
If things hold, this game will feature the 2011 and 2012 Rose Bowl champions in the semifinal in the Arroyo Seco.
Oregon won the Rose Bowl in 2012, beating Wisconsin, and they'll get back to Pasadena by avenging their early season loss to Arizona, a loss which woke up the Ducks. Since that loss in Autzen Stadium in October, the Ducks have been on a tear. And while Arizona has beaten the Ducks each of the last two seasons, the Ducks figured out their Stanford problem this season and will do the same with the Wildcats just in time and get past the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Championship Game to earn a spot in the Rose Bowl and the semifinals.
When the Horned Frogs last made it to Pasadena, they were in the Mountain West and an unbeaten TCU team also beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Then came an 11-2 season and a 7-6 season in 2011 and 2012 before the bottom fell out from the Horned Frogs with a 4-8 year in 2013. But TCU wasn't down long and have pretty much surprised everyone, including the Big 12 blue-bloods, with their dominance at times this year. And while the Horned Frogs lost to Baylor earlier in the year, blowing a 21-point lead on the road only to lose in the final seconds, they lost early enough to let Baylor lose again, and given their blowout of Texas in Austin on Thanksgiving and Baylor's escape over also-ran Texas Tech, put some space between the Bears and themselves. When TCU rolls Iowa State on Saturday, their loss to Baylor will be forgotten and the Horned Frogs will be heading back to Pasadena. Yes, Virginia, TCU will have been in their second Rose Bowl in five seasons. There are a lot, and we reiterate, a LOT of Pac-12 and Big Ten schools that would take just ONE Rose Bowl berth in that span.
National Championship Game in Arlington, Texas: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Oregon
We've been predicting Alabama in the title game for weeks and that Florida State would beat them in the title game.
But after the way the Tide have played since their early October lull, they've got us believing that they'll instead beat the Noles in the Sugar Bowl to earn a spot in the national title game.
Ditto the Ducks, who lost early in the season (two days before the Tide did, in fact). We didn't think they'd get past Florida State either, but with the playoffs looking like they'll get TCU, we think they get past the Horned Frogs and move on to Arlington.
You have the best player in the game, newly crowned Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota against the best coach in the game, Nick Saban.
And this game should be a classic. The one non-SEC team that Alabama fans seemed to be intrigued by and the other team that folks have been hoping would match up with the Tide for the last few years.
So who wins? We'll go with the...answer after this weekend.