When it comes to determining the four teams that will play in the first College Football Playoff, it was a relatively uneventful September. Oh, we had a bunch of really good games, but the basic landscape remained pretty much unchanged.
We won’t say the same thing about October.
After college football heavyweights spent the first month of the season shadow boxing, this Saturday they will start climbing into the ring with other heavyweights. At least nine of the 12 teams below play games this week they could conceivably lose.
The College Football Playoff selection committee will hold its first meeting in Dallas on Oct. 27 and will release it first Top 25 on Oct. 28.
And when we get to November, things will look a lot different than they do now.
But for now, based on the body of work to date, here are 12 teams that are still very much in the discussion.
MY FIRST FOUR
1) Auburn (4-0): A lot of people seem to be talking about what Gus Malzahn’s offense is “not” doing. I say this: We haven’t really “seen” Malzahn’s offense in the first four games. We will see it against LSU. Auburn’s 45-21 victory against Arkansas looks a lot better now, doesn’t it?
2) Alabama (4-0): The Crimson Tide has had a week off to get ready for what promises to be a wild scene at Ole Miss. It will be the first true road game for quarterback Blake Sims.
3) Oregon (4-0): The Ducks get a legitimate test on Thursday night at home against Arizona (4-0). Then, on Oct. 11, comes the showdown at UCLA (4-0).
4) Oklahoma (4-0): The Sooners make an interesting visit to TCU (3-0) on Saturday. Mark your calendars: Oklahoma will be host to Baylor on Nov. 8.
THE NEXT FOUR
5) Texas A&M (5-0): The Aggies’ defense got exposed against Arkansas but they still found a way to win. Victories at Mississippi State and Texas A&M can make a case to be in the First Four.
6) Florida State (4-0): The Seminoles, who gave up 41 points at N.C. State, are not playing like a First Four team. Teams trying to repeat sometimes get bored. I still believe FSU goes 13-0 and makes the playoff.
7) Michigan State (3-1): Some people think I am overrating the Spartans, whose only loss was at Oregon. We’ll find out on Saturday when they entertain Ameer Abdullah and the Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-0).
8) Baylor (4-0): Texas wide receiver John Harris said the following about Saturday’s game with Baylor: “They’re still Baylor. … We’re still Texas.” Not really, John. Baylor can name its score.
THE LAST FOUR
9) Mississippi State (4-0): The Bulldogs have had a week off since their impressive win at LSU. Find a way to beat Texas A&M in Starkville and Mississippi State can move into the top eight.
10) Ole Miss (4-0): The visit from No. 2 Alabama ranks as one of the biggest home games in Ole Miss history. But it is just the first of a five-week gauntlet for the Rebels that includes Alabama, at Texas A&M, Tennessee, at LSU, Auburn.
11) Notre Dame (4-0): Not sure how much longer the Irish will hang around. They’ve got Stanford this week, North Carolina next week, and then have three consecutive road games at Florida State, Navy, and Arizona State.
12) UCLA (4-0): The Bruins started slowly, but then exploded last week with a 62-27 win at Arizona State. They should roll this week against Utah and get ready to host Oregon on Oct. 11.