Impressions of the first Top 25 released by the College Football Selection committee Tuesday night:
- As expected there were four SEC teams ranked in the top six: 1) Mississippi State, 3) Auburn, 4) Ole Miss, 6) Alabama. But now reality hits home: each of those four teams has two games against the other three in November, starting Saturday when No. 3 Auburn goes to No. 4 Ole Miss in an elimination game. The point is these rankings are going to change a lot and that every single one of those six games is going to be a war.
- There has been a lot of talk about “SEC Bias” over the past couple of weeks. I have no idea what that means, but it’s encouraging to see that the committee didn’t listen to it. Based on their performances to date, those four SEC teams deserved to be where they are. Will they stay there? Of course not. But these rankings are not a projection of where we think teams are going to be. It is where they are right now.
- Despite its loss at Mississippi State on Oct. 11, Auburn was clearly rewarded for its 20-14 win at No. 9 Kansas State on Sept. 18.
- The selection committee, which has a couple of very strong former coaches (Barry Alvarez, Tom Osborne) on it, obviously gave great weight to the win by Ole Miss over Alabama (23-17) on Oct. 4. Alabama has been the more impressive team of late and Ole Miss was coming off a loss to LSU. In this case, head-to-head mattered. That thinking could change if Alabama wins at LSU on Nov. 8.
- While the committee gave Ole Miss the edge over Alabama because of head-to-head competition, the committee didn’t feel the same way about Arizona’s 31-24 win at Oregon on Oct. 2. Arizona is No. 14 while Oregon is No. 5. Oregon has a win over No. 8 Michigan State. The Ducks also got healthy on the offensive line.
- Notre Dame at No. 10 was a bit of a surprise given their performance at No. 2 Florida State. But the committee obviously looked at who Notre Dame has beaten, which is not impressive: Rice (4-3), Michigan (3-5), Purdue (3-5), Syracuse (3-5), Stanford (5-3), North Carolina (4-4). The Stanford win was at the buzzer.
- If I was a Big Ten fan I would be rooting hard for No. 8 Michigan State to beat No. 16 Ohio State on Nov. 8 in East Lansing. Michigan State might be able to climb into contention with a 12-1 record, a Big Ten title and the only loss being at No. 5 Oregon. Michigan State is the only ranked team Ohio State will play all season. I just don’t think the Buckeyes can get to the top four, even if they win out.
- I was also surprised to see TCU as high as No. 7 and Baylor at No. 13 given the fact that Baylor won the head-to-head meeting 61-58 back on Oct. 11. But again, the committee gave greater weight to who the Horned Frogs beat. TCU beat Oklahoma (37-33) and a 6-2 Minnesota team from the Big Ten 30-7. It probably didn’t hurt hanging 82 on Texas Tech last Saturday.
- Kansas State (6-1) is at No. 9 but, next to Auburn, the Wildcats have the toughest road schedule down the stretch with trips to TCU, West Virginia, and Baylor remaining.
- At No. 11 Georgia (6-1) is sitting in a pretty good place. The SEC West teams ranked above them are going to cannibalize each other. Georgia has remaining SEC games with Florida (in Jacksonville), Kentucky (in Lexington) and Nov. 15 with No. 3 Auburn in Athens. Win them all and Georgia plays the SEC West survivor in Atlanta.
Possible? Yes, especially if Todd Gurley comes back.
And just think. We’re going to do this five more times between now and Dec. 7. Let the fun begin.