We’re closing out September which means the schedules are starting to get serious and the fun really begins. Yes, there is a lot of football to be played. But today, if I were on the College Football Playoff selection committee, this is way I would vote:
THE FIRST FOUR
1) Auburn (3-0): The Tigers found a way to win at Kansas State (20-14), the first stop in the most difficult road schedule in America. It was a huge win for Auburn and for the conference. Auburn’s wins over Kansas State and Arkansas (3-1) are the most impressive of the group. I still think Auburn is better right now than at any point last season. We’ll soon find out if that’s true.
2) Alabama (4-0): The Crimson Tide was scary good in boat-racing Florida at home (42-21). Alabama did it despite three lost fumbles and 11 penalties. And if quarterback is not an issue–which it apparently is not with Blake Sims–I just don’t see a whole lot of weaknesses. What I do see is the unforgiving gauntlet that is the SEC West.
3) Oregon (4-0): I had the Ducks at No. 1 last week but they almost got beat at Washington State so they dropped. Still, as long as Marcus Mariota remains healthy Oregon should win out. Big game at UCLA on Oct. 11.
4) Florida State (3-0): After a bizarre week, the defending national champs found a way to beat Clemson in overtime. Clemson certainly helped. Because of that I was tempted to drop FSU out of the First Four but decided to keep them in. If the quarterback can keep his head on straight I think the Seminoles go 13-0 and make the playoffs.
THE NEXT FOUR
5) Oklahoma (4-0): The Sooners deserve to be in the First Four after a good road win at West Virginia (45-33) and if Florida State had lost to Clemson they would be No. 4. But Auburn (Kansas State, Arkansas), Alabama (West Virginia, Florida), and Oregon (Michigan State) have better quality wins. If OU runs the table it will be there.
6) Texas A&M (4-0): The Aggies are fun to watch but have had three no-contest scrimmages since beating South Carolina in the opening game. Now the schedule gets serious with Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama in the next four weeks.
7) Michigan State (2-1): The Spartans close out the non-conference schedule with Wyoming on Saturday before hosting undefeated Nebraska on Oct. 4. I still think this is the best team in the Big Ten.
8) Baylor (3-0): I like the way Baylor plays but the fact is the Bears haven’t played anybody (SMU, Northwestern State, Buffalo) of consequence. That changes Saturday when Baylor goes to Iowa State, which had Kansas State on the ropes and beat Iowa (20-17).
THE LAST FOUR
9) Mississippi State (4-0): The Bulldogs were the most impressive team I saw this weekend as they marched into Tiger Stadium and dominated LSU for over 55 minutes. Like all of the teams in the SEC West, Mississippi State will get the chance to prove it deserves this ranking. Bulldogs are open this week followed by back-to-back home games with Texas A&M and Auburn.
10) Notre Dame (3-0): I’m still not sure what to make of the Irish. Yeah, they beat Michigan 31-0 but the Wolverines are just boo-awful. It will be interesting to see how they play at Syracuse.
11) Ole Miss (3-0): The Rebels had last week off and will use this Saturday’s game with Memphis as a tuneup for the much-anticipated showdown with Alabama in Oxford on Oct. 4.
12) South Carolina (3-1): Despite the protests from Steve Spurrier that his team is overrated, the fact remains that the Gamecocks have beaten East Carolina (which has beaten Virginia Tech and North Carolina) and Georgia. How will South Carolina play against a Missouri team (3-1) that was upset by Indiana?