College Football Playoff: Predicting the first set of rankings


After years in the making, we'll see our first glimpse of the new College Football Playoff selection committee in action Tuesday night, when it releases its first set of top 25 rankings, and we find out who has the inside track for the sport's first-ever playoff at the FBS level.

Fresh off a thrilling Week 9, here are a few guesses as to who will make the committee's top four and who will be left wondering what they have to do to move up later this season. Keep in mind, this is a look at the playoff picture right now and not projecting wins and losses the rest of the season.

No. 1 seed: Florida State

Record: 7-0

Current CFB 24/7 rank: 2

Quality wins: Notre Dame, Clemson, Oklahoma State

Why No. 1: While the Seminoles haven't looked as impressive as their SEC brethren in contention for the top spot, they do have better wins than those behind them and have won a variety of ways. Given the number of people on the committee with playing or coaching experience, the sheer amount of talent on the team might also come into play. As one of two Power Five teams who are unbeaten, FSU is definitely in the top four, but its position might be up for debate.

No. 2 seed: Mississippi State

Record: 7-0

Current CFB 24/7 rank: 1

Quality wins: Auburn, LSU

Why No. 2: The schedule. The non-conference slate is laughable, and most of the team's reputation is due to two wins. Still, few teams can claim a night win in Death Valley, and the Bulldogs were mighty impressive against Auburn. They're playing as well as anybody in the nation, but the resume isn't as stellar as one would believe.

No. 3 seed: TCU

Record: 6-1

Current CFB 24/7 rank: 8

Quality wins: Oklahoma, Minnesota, Oklahoma State

Why No. 3: The Horned Frogs lead the nation in offense and are a top 30 team on defense despite playing in the Big 12. They should be undefeated, but a road loss by three points to a fellow 6-1 team in Baylor isn't a terrible mark against them by any means. You can make a number of arguments for other teams here, but none of them has played as well this year as TCU.

No. 4 seed: Alabama

Record: 6-1

Current CFB 24/7 rank: 3

Quality wins: West Virginia

Why No. 4: The win to open the season against the Mountaineers is looking better and better, and the Tide naturally can lean on the fact that they're in the thick of the SEC West. Like TCU, a narrow road loss to a quality team won't be held against them too much, but they will probably slip down to No. 4 in order to avoid a semifinal rematch as presently constructed.

In the hunt

Auburn: The defending SEC champions have one of the better non-conference wins around (at Kansas State) and also beat LSU soundly. Still, the defense is a major concern.

Oregon: Injuries can be used to explain away the loss to Arizona, but more concerning are the defensive issues the Ducks have. They do have a lot going for them, however, with the nation's best player (Marcus Mariota) and best non-conference win (Michigan State).

Notre Dame: It's strange to say, but the Irish have the "best" loss in the country, and it came on a controversial ending to boot. The play of Everett Golson is a big storyline, as is the quality of the team's young defense.

Michigan State: Going on the road and losing in Eugene won't be held against the Spartans too much. Outside of a few quarters, they have looked like one of the best teams in the country but will need some help to overcome the perception of the Big Ten.

Ole Miss: Offensive woes finally caught up to the Rebels in Baton Rouge, but they are by no means out of the playoff race. They'll have a chance to get right back in the final four with a win this week over Auburn.

Georgia: The Bulldogs have become known more for their dealings with the NCAA than their play on the field in recent weeks. Their schedule hurts them compared to others, being in the SEC East, but Mark Richt might yet find himself in the title hunt with a sneaky defensive unit and a stable of tailbacks that can run you over.

Kansas State: Miracle worker Bill Snyder owns the only unblemished Big 12 record and was a kicker away from beating Auburn. They might not win pretty, but this is a sound football team that can play with anybody.

Arizona State:Want a darkhorse for the final four? Look no further than the Sun Devils, who could have better wins than anybody at the end of the year. The offense has been prolific, but it's a surprisingly good defense that gives them a chance every week.

Arizona: Rich Rodriguez has done wonders in Tucson despite a first-year starter at quarterback and a bunch of inexperienced running backs. Things were a little rough early on, but both the offense and defense have gotten better each week.

Baylor: The Bears' weak non-conference schedule will do them no favors, but they're still in the hunt with a prolific offense and a better-than-expected defensive unit.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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