CFP Top 25: Full rankings and analysis
The 12-person selection committee tasked with the challenge of putting together the inaugural College Football Playoff released a third edition of its Top 25 on Tuesday night, and the group continues to have Mississippi State as the best team thus far in the 2014 college football season.
But Florida State is no longer No. 2 in the country. The committee elevated Oregon to the second slot despite the Seminoles remaining unbeaten after this past weekend. It's clear that the committee is rewarding the Ducks because of what it views as a stronger slate and more quality wins despite Mark Helfrich's team having the slip-up at home to Arizona.
Here is the complete Top 25:
1. Mississippi State
3. Florida State
6. Arizona State
8. Ohio State
12. Michigan State
13. Kansas State
18. Notre Dame
22. Georgia Tech
24. Texas A&M
If the season ended today, the matchups for the first-ever College Football Playoff in FBS would be No. 1 Mississippi State vs. No. 4 TCU in the Sugar Bowl and No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl. The winners of those two semifinal matchups would meet in Arlington on January 12 for the national championship.
The committee's final decision on which teams will comprise the four-team playoff will come at 12:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 7.
A few thoughts:
- Oregon has three Top 25 wins, while Florida State has two. That really is the slim difference at this point. Committee chairman Jeff Long said on ESPN that the Ducks have a very slight edge over the Seminoles this week. The problem for the 'Noles is that Oregon could have a strong opponent awaiting in the Pac-12 title game, so FSU really needs Miami (FL), Florida and possibly Duke (ACC title game) to be considered good foes in the eyes of the committee. But, FSU will be in the dance if it wins out. One loss, not so much.
- Baylor is not getting rewarded for a soft nonconference schedule. Despite a win over TCU, the Bears are behind the Horned Frogs because TCU has played a stronger slate up to this point. However, while TCU is No. 4 now, it could find itself on the outside even if it wins out because there are others that have better remaining schedules (including Alabama, which has no reason to worry about its spot at this point). That's the tricky part of having weekly rankings released. While TCU did have a 21-point fourth-quarter lead over Baylor in the meeting, the Frogs were unable to hold on. TCU's slate has been better up to this point, but Gary Patterson's team did fall in that one. Essentially, head-to-head will merely be a tiebreaker if needed. TCU has made a stronger impression on the committee up to this point, fair or not in the eyes of those in Waco. Essentially, Baylor's loss to unranked West Virginia isn't as favorable as TCU's loss to the Bears.
- Ohio State moved up to No. 8, and the Buckeyes are ahead of two-loss Auburn. But will Urban Meyer's squad be on the outside looking in even if it wins out? The weaker schedule will be a factor, although the Buckeyes get another game against a Top 25 team with Minnesota moving into the standings.
- Arizona State thumping Notre Dame really helped UCLA, as the Bruins used a big second half to beat the Sun Devils earlier in the year. Jim L. Mora's squad jumped seven spots to No. 11 this week. The Sun Devils, meanwhile, are a strong No. 6.
- Texas A&M returned to the mix after beating Auburn on the road. This is still the same Aggies team, though, that lost to Alabama 59-0 and has a four-point win over Louisiana- Monroe.
- There are no Group of Five teams once again in the CFP Top 25 rankings. That is nothing to worry about right now, but which conference champion from one of those leagues will be in the Top 25 by the end of the year — if any? Will an undefeated Marshall get edged out for that automatic 'New Year's Six' berth? I have a hard time believing that the Thundering Herd would ultimately be left out as an unbeaten champ even with a weak slate, but Colorado State, Boise State, East Carolina and Northern Illinois are teams to monitor.
- Here are the rankings by conference: SEC (7), Pac-12 (5), Big Ten (5), ACC (4), Big 12 (3) and Independents (1).
- The possible matchups for the other 'New Year's Six' bowls if the season ended today could be as follows...
Peach Bowl: Auburn vs. Marshall, Fiesta Bowl: Arizona State vs. Ohio State, Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Alabama and Cotton Bowl: Baylor vs. Ole Miss
Eye test vs. resume, best team vs. the most deserving...let the debate continue for another week!
Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.