Jeff Long, the chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee, said his group would start with a blank sheet of paper every week. But there were only minor changes in the Top 10 when the second set of rankings of the season were announced Tuesday night.
The top three teams–Mississippi State, Florida State, and Auburn–all stayed in place despite the fact that all three had to rally to win close games.
The most notable changes Tuesday night were Oregon moving into the No. 4 spot ahead of Alabama and TCU while Arizona State jumped five spots from No. 14 to No. 9.
Ole Miss (7-2), which lost a 35-31 heart breaker to Auburn, dropped from No. 4 to No. 11 but was the highest rated of the two-loss teams. Georgia(6-2) paid dearly for its 38-20 loss to Florida as the Bulldogs dropped from No. 11 to No. 20.
Here is a breakdown of the new Top 10 with their remaining games. We’ll see a lot more changes next week because this Saturday is filled with heavyweight match-ups:
1) Mississippi State (8-0): Saturday vs. UT Martin, at Alabama, Vanderbilt, at Ole Miss. Stayed at No. 1 despite a close win (17-10) at home against Arkansas.
2) Florida State (8-0): Saturday vs. Virginia, at Miami, Boston College, Florida. Fell behind 21-0 at Louisville last Thursday but came back to win 42-31 and was able to hold on at No. 2. The rivalry games with Miami (6-3) and Florida (4-3) now look a little more interesting.
3) Auburn (7-1): Saturday vs. Texas A&M, at Georgia, Samford, at Alabama. Both Georgia and Alabama will be big-time revenge games on the road.
4) Oregon (8-1): Saturday at Utah, Colorado, at Oregon State. If Oregon beats Utah in Salt Lake it clinches the Pac-12 North. The Ducks, whose only loss was at home to Arizona on Oct. 2, have scored 191 points (47.75 avg) in their last four games.
5) Alabama (7-1): Saturday at LSU; Mississippi State, Western Carolina, Auburn. It really doesn’t matter that the Crimson Tide is No. 5 because if they win out–which would be against No. 16, No. 1, and No. 3–they will go to the SEC championship game, where a win puts Alabama into the playoffs.
6) TCU (7-1): Saturday vs. Kansas State, at Kansas, at Texas, Iowa State. The Horned Frogs had a huge 31-30 win at West Virginia last week and their only loss was to Baylor (61-58). That’s why Saturday’s game with Kansas State (7-1, 5-0 Big 12) is so huge. Win that one and TCU should coast in its final three conference games.
7) Kansas State (7-1): Saturday at TCU, at West Virginia, Kansas, at Baylor. The Wildcats jumped over Michigan State into the No. 7 spot. Their only loss is to No. 3 Auburn at home but the Wildcats have the toughest closing stretch in the Big 12 .
8) Michigan State (7-1): Saturday vs. Ohio State, at Maryland, Rutgers, at Penn State. If Michigan State loses to No. 14 Ohio State (7-1), the Big Ten will likely get left out of the playoff. If Michigan State wins and finishes 12-1, the Spartans’ only loss would be at No. 4 Oregon.
9) Arizona State (7-1): Saturday vs. Notre Dame, at Oregon State, Washington State, at Arizona. The Sun Devils’ only loss was to UCLA (62-27) and they were fortunate to beat Utah (19-16) last Saturday.
10) Notre Dame (7-1): Saturday at Arizona State, Northwestern, Louisville, at USC. The Irish have long road trips coming up at Arizona State and USC. But if they win out their only loss was 31-27 at No. 2 Florida State.