Our first projected Final Four: Georgia, FSU, Oregon, Auburn

Understand this: The arrival of the four-team College Football Playoff will completely change how we discuss the game moving forward.

During the BCS era we looked at the teams, the schedules and tried to project which two teams would be left standing in December. Now the discussion will take place weekly based on a snapshot of who you played and how you played in the previous game. In the New World Order, if you’re in the top four this week there is no guarantee you’ll be there next week, even if you win. Play poorly against an inferior opponent and you can drop out. In other words, it will be much more fluid.

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will not release its first Top 25 until Oct. 28 but the debate begins right here, right now.

Here are this week’s top four teams. Feel free to disagree (because I know you will):

1) Georgia (1-0): The Bulldogs were the most impressive team I saw in the first weekend as they dominated  a good Clemson team 45-21. They have the best running back in college football (Todd Gurley) and go four-deep with great players at the position. Hutson Mason is a solid quarterback and when he gets wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley back on the field, the offense will be really hard to handle. After giving up 21 points in the first half to Clemson, Georgia’s defense held a good offensive team to only one first down in seven possessions in the second half. Georgia plays a huge conference game at South Carolina on Sept. 13.

2) Florida State (1-0): The defending national champions got a lot tougher challenge from Oklahoma State (winning 37-31 in Arlington, Tex.) than expected. But here is what the Seminoles are going to learn. After you’ve won a national championship, the next year your motto is very simple: Survive and advance. You just have to win. I didn’t think Florida State’s performance merited No. 1, but it was good enough to be in the top four.

3) Oregon (1-0): We didn’t learn a whole lot in Oregon’s 62-13 win over South Dakota but I will say this: As long as QB Marcus Mariota stays healthy, the Ducks are going to be favored in every game they play. Michigan State goes to Autzen Stadium on Saturday in a monster inter-sectional game.

4) Auburn (1-0): Very impressive in the second half in beating Arkansas 45-21. With the addition of Duke Williams at wide receiver and the ability of backup QB Jeremy Johnson to throw the ball, this is a more versatile team than the one that won the SEC championship last season. The road schedule is just ridiculous. Big game at Kansas State on Sept. 18.

Knocking on the door (In alphabetical order):

Alabama (1-0): Solid on offense but still some questions on defense after a 33-23 win over West Virginia.

Baylor (1-0): The Bears took care of  undermanned SMU 45-0 but QB Bryce Petty injured his back. With a non-conference schedule that includes SMU, Northwestern State, and Buffalo, Baylor has to go 12-0 to have a shot.

Michigan State (1-0): Win at Oregon on Saturday and the Spartans will be in next week’s  top four.

Ohio State (1-0): Struggled with Navy before winning 34-17. Awful schedule with only one ranked team (Michigan State).

Oklahoma (1-0): Trevor Knight threw for 253 yards in a 48-16 win over Louisiana Tech. If Knight plays consistently the Sooners look like an undefeated Big 12 championship team. Thought about putting Sooners No. 4 but Auburn was more impressive.

Texas A&M (1-0): Dominated on the road at No. 9 South Carolina. There are still issues in the secondary. May not know what the Aggies really have until they go to Mississippi State on Oct. 4.

Teams like UCLA, LSU, and USC still have some work to do in order to get into the discussion.

Okay. Now it’s your turn.


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