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College Football Playoff rankings: Five things we learned


The College Football Playoff selection committee released its fifth set of rankings Tuesday, and while there was no movement in the top seven of the poll, the selection committee provided a few surprises with the rest of their picks.

Here's what we learned from the latest rankings:

1. Boise State is front-runner for Group of Five bid

What we've been saying for weeks was confirmed for good when the Broncos made their debut in the CFB Playoff rankings as the highest-ranked Group of Five team, one spot ahead of undefeated Marshall. The Thundering Herd's struggles against UAB last week probably didn't hold them back as much as their overall schedule, which featured only two wins over teams that have a winning record, as chairman Jeff Long noted later. Their only way to make up ground is to have Boise State lose, but that could open the door for a 12-1 Colorado State that has wins over two Power Five teams.

As for the team that plays ball on the blue turf, a win over a nine-win Utah State team this week plus a Mountain West championship should only serve to solidify Boise's spot. Win out and the team will go to the Fiesta or Peach Bowl, simple as that.

2. FSU remains a controversial team

It seems like every week the Seminoles fan base feels "disrespected" when the team comes up again in the No. 3 spot despite being the only undefeated power conference team and sitting behind two squads with losses that are less than stellar. Long did bring up a point that shouldn't go unnoticed: FSU is quite controversial inside the committee room because of its close wins and constant need for comebacks this year.

"There's a part of the group that thinks that's a flaw in Florida State," Long said. "There's other committee members in the room that feel like, 'Hey, they just keep winning.' Yes, they've had to come from behind, but yes, a sign of a quality team is their ability to come back and win."

Why might that be an issue down the road? If the Seminoles get tripped up by either Florida or Georgia Tech, it's very likely they'll be out of the final four because a good part of the committee thinks they are more lucky than good.

3. Ohio State's loss not as bad as we thought

In his post-rankings press conference, Long clarified two things: The committee considers a "bad" loss as one to a sub-.500 team -- and it doesn't necessarily think Ohio State's loss to Virginia Tech was a bad one.

That's another big boost to the Buckeyes, who will certainly be in position to grab the No. 4 seed if they win out.

4. At-the-time rankings are concerning

During his television appearance, Long sent a shiver down a number of folks when talking about Mississippi State remaining in the top four.

"They're holding strong where they're ranked right now," he said. "While they only have one currently-ranked top 25 win, they do have wins over teams previously in the top 25. Again, the committee takes those into account and they view those teams as when those games are played."

That last line was the concerning part and something he later clarified, saying the committee is aware of the opponent's rankings when teams play them: "It's not a criteria, but we certainly know and discuss when a team was previously ranked in the top 25."

So while the Bulldogs have just a single top 25 win, against Auburn, they are getting credit for beating teams such as LSU, Texas A&M and others. That has to be concerning for folks outside of the SEC because the league has 14 members, and a lot of them end up ranked at some point. Yes, the committee should take note of when teams played a Deshaun Watson-less Clemson or a team like Virginia Tech before it suffered a rash of injuries. Maybe it helps a team like TCU, which has five wins over teams that were ranked at some point, or maybe it doesn't.

One can't help but think that line of questioning from the committee will help tilt the conversation in favor of SEC schools.

5. UCLA in position to crash party

The top two-loss team in the country is not surprisingly a surging UCLA squad that might win college football's toughest division. The Bruins are sitting at No. 8 behind a number of one-loss teams and appear to control their own destiny if they win out because they could then take Oregon's spot in the top four with a win over the Ducks in December.

"UCLA has made a strong move for us. They have substantial wins against the top 25," said Long. "They do have two losses but they are quality losses. I think all of those things have helped propelled them up to that No. 8 position."

And perhaps maybe even higher than that.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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