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College Football Playoff rankings: Five things we learned


The College Football Playoff selection committee released its sixth set of rankings Tuesday and surprised everybody by moving Florida State down another spot. But that wasn't the only thing that raised an eyebrow or two in the committee's penultimate top 25.

Here's what we learned from the latest rankings:

1. TCU-Baylor debate might be over

For weeks and weeks, we have been debating whether TCU or Baylor should be in the top four, and thinking that in due time the committee would flip the two teams based on the Bears' head-to-head win earlier this season. That is not going to be the case based on the Horned Frogs' rise to No. 3 in the polls Tuesday, three spots ahead of Baylor.

That means that it would take a miracle -- last-place Iowa State defeating TCU on Saturday -- combined with a big Baylor win over Kansas State in order to put the Bears in the top four.

Committee chairman Jeff Long noted on his conference call that the Horned Frogs own five wins over teams who own a record of .500 or better, not to mention a much better non-conference slate that features a solid Minnesota team. Baylor has only three such wins.

Even with a win over Kansas State, the gap between the two schools appears to be too big to close on one weekend.

"We believe they're an improving football team," Long added. "We believe TCU is a better football team (than Baylor)."

2. FSU will be unhappy no matter what

Another week, another drop in the polls for Florida State. Yes, the fans are angry, but here is where the Seminoles stand: Win, and they're in the tournament. It's hard to ask for much more than that if you're a coach or a player, but the fact they keep dropping with each close win might be troubling to some.

Also noteworthy: A win over Georgia Tech would give FSU its best win of the year based on opponents ranking and a conference title that should be more than enough to move the Seminoles back to the No. 3 seed.

These are the top 10 college football rivalry games, as determined by the College Football 24/7 staff.

3. An Alabama loss means an SEC shutout

Alabama is all but certain to go into the first-ever College Football Playoff with the No. 1 seed if it wins Saturday in Atlanta to capture the SEC title. If the Tide lose? Well, in that scenario the SEC could get shut out of the system many thought they would dominate.

Why is that possible? East division champion Missouri enters the week at No. 16 with a 10-2 record. That would be a huge jump for the Tigers to make the final four even if they beat the No. 1 team in the country. Add in the fact the Tigers lost at home to Indiana, and it's hard to see them winding up anywhere close to the playoff.

If you are a fan from the SEC, you'd better be rooting for the Crimson Tide. If you're a Tigers fan, that SEC title might just come at a hefty price.

4. New Year's Six bowl picture clearing up

It's not just the final four picture that we're getting a better handle on, it's the rest of the six New Year's Eve/Day bowl games that are coming into focus, too. Obviously, the Group of Five slot is destined for Boise State if the Broncos win the Mountain West Championship Game over a team they already beat in Fresno State. The ACC team for the Orange Bowl appears to be set as Georgia Tech even if it loses to Florida State on Saturday. With their seasons over, Ohio State (No. 5) or Michigan State (at No. 8) appear bound to get the nod to play the Yellow Jackets in Miami over Mississippi State (No. 10).

Baylor, meanwhile, is in line to go to the Cotton Bowl, and it's entirely possible we'll see a Boise State vs. Arizona matchup in the Fiesta Bowl, provided the Wildcats don't drop too much if they lose in the Pac-12 title game. There's still some sorting out to be done, but the other spots seem to be sorting themselves out, too.

5. Arizona in position to crash party

Let's take what we said last week and sub out UCLA for Arizona, because it basically holds true with the Wildcats moving to No. 7:

The top two-loss team in the country is not surprisingly a surging UCLA Arizona squad that won college football's toughest division. The Wildcats are sitting at No. 7 behind a shrinking number of one-loss teams and appear to control their own destiny if they win out. That would mean they could take Oregon's spot in the top four with a win over the Ducks in December.

Perhaps they could move even higher than that.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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