Mississippi State, Ole Miss crack First Four; but can they stay there?

Last week was sheer chaos and it was utterly delicious.  So who should be in the discussion for the first College Football Playoff? Just one man’s opinion:

THE FIRST FOUR

1. Auburn (5-0): For the third consecutive week we have Auburn at No. 1. The Tigers have beaten Arkansas by 24, Kansas State on the road by six and took apart LSU 41-7 Saturday night at Jordan-Hare. Now comes the big test Saturday at Mississippi State (5-0). Win that one and everybody will be on the Gus Bus.

2. Mississippi State (5-0): The Bulldogs have dominated everybody they’ve played and have the best dual-threat quarterback in the country in Dak Prescott. Can Dan Mullen get his team emotionally ready to play at a high level for the second week in a row?

3. Ole Miss (5-0): After a great performance against Alabama on Saturday, the Rebels now have to go to College Station to play a wounded, but potent team in Texas A&M. After investing so much emotion and energy in the Alabama game, can Ole Miss possibly win a game like this on the road?

4. Florida State (5-0): The Seminoles had dropped out for a week but after all the upsets and a 43-3 win over Wake Forest, FSU deserves to be back in the First Four. But here’s the bad news: Center Austin Barron has a fractured arm and Rashad Greene, FSU’s best receiver, did not play in the second half because of a concussion.

THE NEXT FOUR

5. Alabama (4-1): Despite the 23-17 loss to Ole Miss I still think the Crimson Tide is one of the best teams in the country. If I’m wrong about that we’ll find out soon enough. Alabama goes to Arkansas this week and hosts Texas A&M next week.

6. Michigan State (4-1):  The Spartans’ 27-22 win over previously-unbeaten Nebraska is misleading. Michigan State led 27-3 before Nebraska staged a late rally. The defense held Ameer Abdullah to only 45 yards rushing. I like the way this team plays.

7. Notre Dame (5-0): The Irish had a great win over Stanford (17-14) but have yet to play a team with a decent offense. That changes with North Carolina (2-3) on Saturday and it really changes next week when Notre Dame goes to Florida State.

8. Baylor (5-0): I love everything about Baylor, about Art Briles, about Bryce Petty. But the Bears have got to play somebody of substance before I’m buying in. The offense struggled against Texas but Baylor won 28-7. Now the pace picks up with TCU, at West Virginia and at Oklahoma coming up in the next five weeks.

THE LAST FOUR

9. Arizona (5-0): The only remaining undefeated team in the Pac-12 after beating Oregon 31-24. Think Michigan fans are having second thoughts about running off Rich Rod?

10. Oregon (4-1): The Ducks look vulnerable after losing to Arizona. Now they have to go to UCLA.

11. TCU (4-0): TCU looked out of its depth right after joining the Big 12, but Gary Patterson is too good of a coach. He said the transition was going to take a little time but it looks like the Horned Frogs have arrived after upsetting Oklahoma 37-33. TCU is back in the national discussion. We’ll see if it can stay there on Saturday at Baylor.

12. Oklahoma (4-1): The Sooners can still play their way back into the First Four by running the table and winning the Big 12 championship. But remember that TCU would have to lose twice.


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