There is really only one thing we learned on the last Saturday in October:
Everything that has happened in college football has been merely to set the table for a November that we are going to long remember.
At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, the 12-member selection committee for the College Football Playoff will release its first Top 25 for the 2014 season. These rankings will give us a template for what promises to be a heated discussion that will not end until Dec. 7, when the committee will announce the pairings for the four-team playoff.
Here are just a few of the questions the committee will have to answer in its first set of rankings:
With No. 3 Ole Miss (7-1) losing 10-7 to LSU on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, it will be interesting to see the committee’s first 4-6 teams.
- How far does Ole Miss drop after a three-point loss in one of the toughest venues in college football? Do the Rebels fall behind Alabama (7-1), which they beat head-to-head 23-17? Ole Miss will still win the SEC West if it recovers and runs the table against Auburn, Presbyterian, Arkansas and Mississippi State.
- Despite the loss by Ole Miss, the two major human polls still had three SEC teams ranked in their top four on Sunday: Mississippi State, Alabama and Auburn. Will the committee do the same or will it slide a team like Oregon (7-1) into the mix?
- Where will Michigan State (7-1) be ranked? The Spartans are No. 8 in the AP poll but no. 5 in the coaches poll. In the AP poll, Michigan State is three spots behind Oregon. In the coaches poll MSU is one spot ahead of Oregon. The Ducks beat the Spartans in Eugene 46-27 on Sept. 6.
- Where will Notre Dame (6-1) be ranked? The Irish played No. 2 Florida State (7-0) to the wire in Tallahassee and still have big-time road games at Arizona State and USC remaining.
- Mississippi State (7-0) and Florida State are the only two unbeaten teams left in the playoff discussion (sorry Marshall). Will they be 1-2 on Tuesday night?
Now these questions barely scratch the surface of the judgments the committee will have to make and this is only the first ranking. Just look at the games coming up that could impact the four teams that get that into the playoffs. This is far from a complete list but it gives you a sense of just how much the landscape could change in the next six weeks. We will use the AP rankings today and then the CFP rankings once they are released:
Thursday: No. 2 Florida State at Louisville
Saturday: No. 4 Auburn at No. 7 Ole Miss; No. 10 TCU at No. 20 West Virginia; No. 14 Arizona at No. 25 UCLA; Stanford at No. 5 Oregon
Nov. 8: No. 3 Alabama at No. 16 LSU; No. 13 Ohio State at No. 8 Michigan State; No. 11 Kansas State at No. 10 TCU; No. 12 Baylor at No. 19 Oklahoma; No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 15 Arizona State; No. 5 Oregon at No. 18 Utah
Nov. 15: No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 3 Alabama; No. 4 Auburn at No. 9 Georgia; No. 2 Florida State at Miami
Nov 20: No. 11 Kansas State at No. 20 West Virginia
Nov. 22: Louisville at No. 6 Notre Dame
Nov. 28: No. 15 Arizona State at No. 14 Arizona
Nov. 29: No. 4 Auburn at No. 3 Alabama; No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 7 Ole Miss; No. 6 Notre Dame at USC; No. 8 Michigan State at Penn State
Dec. 5: Pac-12 Championship
Dec. 6: No. 11 Kansas State at No. 12 Baylor; SEC Championship; ACC Championship; Big Ten Championship
Get the picture? Buckle your chin strap; the wild CFP ride is really just beginning.