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College Football Playoff: Predicting the fourth set of rankings

Associated Press
Both Alabama and Mississippi State could remain in the top four when the new rankings are released.

After years in the making, we'll see yet another glimpse of the College Football Playoff selection committee in action Tuesday night, when it releases its fourth set of top 25 rankings.

» CFB 24/7 Top 25 Power Rankings: A new No. 1

Fresh off a thrilling Week 12 and a number of upsets, here are a few guesses for who will make the committee's top four and who will be left wondering what they have to do to move up. Keep in mind, this is a look at the playoff picture right now and not a projection of wins and losses the rest of the season.

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No. 1 seed: Oregon

Record: 9-1
Current CFB 24/7 rank: 2
Quality wins: Michigan State, UCLA, Utah
Why No. 1: The Ducks are the beneficiary of a bye week and an SEC top-five showdown that resulted in a loss for last week's No. 1, Mississippi State. The biggest reason the Ducks slide to the top spot is their impressive resume, including a 3-1 mark against top 25 teams, something nobody else in the running for this ranking can match based on the current rankings. At the very least, there's little chance the team moves below its No. 2 ranking from last week.

No. 2 seed: Alabama

Record: 9-1
Current CFB 24/7 rank: 5
Quality wins: West Virginia, Mississippi State
Why No. 2: Beating the No. 1 team in the country should be enough to vault Alabama to that same spot, right? Probably not. Unless West Virginia sneaks back into the top 25, the Crimson Tide will have just a single win over a top 25 team in Tuesday's rankings. Granted, it was over Mississippi State, but that might not be enough to put the Tide over Oregon in the eyes of the committee.

No. 3 seed: Florida State

Record: 10-0
Current CFB 24/7 rank: 3
Quality wins: Clemson, Notre Dame, Miami
Why No. 3: Another week, another flood of complaints from Seminoles fans about their ranking. Second-half heroics once again kept the team perfect on the season -- the Seminoles are the only Power Five conference team that can say that -- but losses by Notre Dame and Clemson might push those teams out of the top 25 altogether. FSU's record might be nice, but having no wins over any top 25 teams should keep FSU at No. 3 for another week.

Check out the top images from the 12th weekend of college football play.

No. 4 seed: Mississippi State

Record: 9-1
Current CFB 24/7 rank: 1
Quality wins: LSU, Auburn
Why No. 4: The biggest mystery this week will be how far the committee drops the Bulldogs after their loss to Alabama. They are unlikely to have any top 25 wins when Tuesday night's rankings roll around, but might be saved by the fact they lost by just five on the road to another top four team. Chairman Jeff Long has talked for weeks about how MSU has been out front of other teams by a good margin, so that is likely what keeps the Bulldogs in the top four at the end of the day. Upon closer examination of their schedule, however, the outlook doesn't look good for them to stay this high going forward compared to other teams.

In the hunt

» TCU: That Kansas game could haunt the Horned Frogs' title hopes, but the committee might overlook the performance more than most. It's still enough to drop them out of the top four, but the team's title hopes are not done yet.

» Baylor: One doesn't get wins during bye weeks, but that might just have happened for the Bears with TCU struggling against lowly Kansas and a number of other teams getting picked off. It would be very helpful if Oklahoma moves back into the rankings after beating Texas Tech, too.

» Ohio State: No team is playing as well as the Buckeyes right now, and a road win over a then-top 25 opponent should help their perception. Added bonus could be that Wisconsin ends up in the top 10 before their Big Ten title game matchup.

» UCLA: Don't look now, but the Bruins have quietly become fringe contenders for the playoff. They have a chance to win the most competitive division in college football, the Pac-12 South and can avenge their loss to Oregon by beating the Ducks in the conference title game. The only two-loss team in front of them is Ole Miss, and the Rebels still have Mississippi State ahead of them and might not even win their own division.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.


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