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 its initial Top 25 on Tuesday night, and the group selected Mississippi State as the best team thus far in the 2014 college football season.
Here is the complete Top 25:
1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
4. Ole Miss
8. Michigan State
9. Kansas State
10. Notre Dame
14. Arizona State
16. Ohio State
20. West Virginia
23. East Carolina
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 Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl and No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Auburn in the Rose Bowl. The winners of those two semifinal matchups would meet in Arlington on January 12 for the national championship.
A few thoughts:
- Head-to-head definitely matters, to an extent. Ole Miss beat out Alabama for the No. 4 spot because the Rebels defeated the Crimson Tide in Oxford on October 4. Of course, Ole Miss slipped up on the road against LSU this past week while 'Bama has been unbeaten since that loss. Many college football observers believe that the Tide would win a rematch right now, but the committee rewarded Ole Miss for that win. Selection committee chairman Jeff Long said on ESPN that head-to-head is just one factor, but it seemingly was a factor here. However, it wasn't a factor when comparing Oregon and Arizona obviously. It also did not apply to the Baylor-TCU situation.
- There is such a thing as a good road loss. Auburn lost by 15 points at Mississippi State, but the Tigers were in good shape for these rankings. Meanwhile, teams such as Georgia and Baylor lost to teams that weren't as strong as Mississippi State. It is important to keep in mind, though, that Auburn did go on the road and beat Kansas State. Georgia has not had as strong of a win, while Baylor had to come back from being down 21 to beat TCU at home.
- Is Ohio State doomed? The Buckeyes were penalized for their home loss to Virginia Tech in Week 2 as well as their soft nonconference schedule. And, of course, their Big Ten slate hasn't been great to this point. Would a win in East Lansing be enough?
- That SEC West though. Auburn and Ole Miss play this weekend, which will knock one of those teams from the ranks of the one-loss group. Meanwhile, Mississippi State has marquee contests left against Alabama and Ole Miss. But the West division of the nation's best conference is being rewarded, and rightfully so.
- Notre Dame was seemingly one unneccessary penalty away from being ranked No. 2 this week.
- I actually thought TCU had a chance to be higher than No. 7, but the Horned Frogs just have to keep winning and they will get in the four-team dance. Meanwhile, No. 11 Georgia lurks, as the Bulldogs could make a big jump with a win against Auburn.
- Conference champions that aren’t in the semifinals get spots in the other New Year’s Six bowls. Let's say Oregon, TCU and Michigan State win their respective leagues. The Orange Bowl would get the next highest-ranked ACC team (as an FSU replacement), which could be Clemson. The Tigers' opponent could be Alabama. The highest-ranked conference champ from the Group of Five also gets a spot, which would go to East Carolina. The Pirates could have a Peach Bowl date with Notre Dame. The Ducks and Kansas State could be the matchup in the Fiesta Bowl, while the Horned Frogs and the Spartans could meet in the Cotton.
Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.