What we learned on another wild Saturday:
1) The SEC now has a shot of getting two teams in the College Football Playoff: Undefeated and previously No. 5 Notre Dame lost 31-27 at No. 2 Florida State. There were a couple of upsets in the Big 12 as undefeated Baylor lost to West Virginia and once-beaten Oklahoma lost at home to Kansas State (although any time a Bill Snyder team beats somebody it’s hard to call it an upset.) So there is some uncertainty in the Big 12 and everybody in the Pac-12 already has a loss with a lot of football to be played.
To put it into perspective: A year ago at this time there were still 10 undefeated teams. Now there are three (Mississippi State, Ole Miss, FSU) with a shot at the playoffs (and one which doesn’t, sorry Marshall).
A lot of things still have to break right for the SEC to get two into the four-team playoff. But here are just a few scenarios, using the latest AP poll released Sunday:
- No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 3 Ole Miss stay undefeated until they meet on Nov. 29 in Oxford. The winner goes to Atlanta, the loser finishes 11-1. It would be just like last season, when I believe Alabama (11-1) would have gotten into a four-team playoff after its loss at Auburn.
- Ole Miss runs the table, including a win over Mississippi State. Alabama runs the table, which includes a win over Mississippi State. Ole Miss goes to Atlanta at 12-0 (and wins) and is ranked No. 1. Alabama is 11-1 with its only loss being by six points on the road against the No. 1 team in the nation.
- Georgia gets hot and runs the table, including a win over an undefeated or one-loss SEC West team in Atlanta. There will be at least one, and maybe three, SEC West teams with only one loss.
There are a bunch of scenarios involving once-beaten Auburn, but you get the picture.
We have one Saturday to go before the first Top 25 ranking is released by the College Football Playoff. Just check the positioning of the SEC teams in that ranking.
2) Florida State is likely in: Florida State (7-0) dodged its bullet by beating Notre Dame. The Seminoles have games remaining with Louisville (6-2), Virginia (4-3), Miami (4-3), Boston College (4-3), and Florida (3-3). Then there is the ACC championship game. Florida State is not going to lose and they will be in the four-team playoff.
3) Notre Dame is still in the discussion: Everybody, including the CFP selection committee, saw how well Notre Dame (6-1) played in Tallahassee. They saw that the winning touchdown was negated by a penalty (which was the correct call, by the way), with 13 seconds left. The Irish have games remaining with Navy (at FedEx Field), at once-beaten Arizona State, Northwestern, Louisville and at Southern California. Win them all and Notre Dame is in the discussion with a bunch of one-loss teams. Having been through the mock selection process I can tell you this: The fact that Notre Dame is not in a conference is a non-factor.
4) Ole Miss at LSU suddenly looks interesting: The Ole Miss defense is scary good. LSU (6-2) is finding its identity after rushing for 303 yards on 51 attempts in 41-3 thumping of Kentucky. Think the folks in Tiger Stadium are going to be a little jacked up to host the Rebels (7-0) on Saturday night?
5) This is not a good week for Florida to be off: When you have a brutally bad game as Florida did in a 42-13 home loss to Missouri, you want to get back on the field as soon as possible. But now the Gators have to endure two weeks of speculation about Will Muschamp’s future before playing Georgia in Jacksonville.
Bonus thing we learned. Note to self: Don’t ever make Nick Saban mad. Ouch!