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College Football Playoff rankings: Six things we learned


The rankings are out, the angry tweets have been sent, and the politicking has begun. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the College Football Playoff era is alive and well.

The 12-member selection committee released its second top 25 rankings Tuesday, and while there were a few surprises, there were also plenty of things we can glean from them.

Here's what we learned:

1. No movement among top three

The top teams in the committee's mind didn't budge an inch even though many thought it would reward Florida State's win over a then-ranked Louisville team on the road, whereas the Bulldogs struggled against Arkansas. That was not to be, however, as committee chairman Jeff Long admitted multiple times Tuesday night that his group didn't really consider changing the pecking order at all.

"There was a clear voting difference between No. 2 FSU and No. 3 Auburn," Long said. "Auburn solidly into No. 3 position ahead of Oregon."

Last week during the media session for the initial rankings, there was a point made about how different the top 25 could be each week. Turns out that wasn't the case seven days later, and there's not a ton of difference between these rankings and the polls that come out on Sunday.

2. Pac-12 continues to earn respect

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is a happy man when it comes to the Playoff, and he saw a team from the conference slide into the top four thanks to Oregon moving up one spot from No. 5. While it was clear that had something to do with Ole Miss losing, Long made it a point to single out how strong the Ducks' resume was, citing not just the big non-conference win over Michigan State but their road victory over UCLA and Saturday's victory over Stanford.

Each Pac-12 team was also ranked higher than they were in the other two polls, the AP and Coaches, with Arizona State seeing a big boost out of their overtime win against Utah. Speaking of the Utes, they didn't drop after losing, so it's clear the committee thinks they're a quality team. In the end, the committee is rewarding the quality play out west.

"Arizona State added to their body of work and already have that win over Stanford and have a win over USC," Long said. "They have a common opponent with Notre Dame in Stanford and we felt they accomplished more."

3. Uncertainty over strength of schedule, resume

Alabama was placed ahead of TCU (again) despite the Horned Frogs having the far superior resume when you sit down and study what each has accomplished. Still, Long said based on film study and a number of other factors, the Tide are the better team and in a good position to finish in the top four.

Coming into the Playoff era, there was some thought that the committee would seriously reward teams based on their schedules and resume. That is still unclear at this point. Alabama passes the eye test, TCU passes the resume test, and in the case of those two it's Nick Saban's team that gets the edge. That line of thinking is flipped further down in the poll, so we don't really know what will play a part in deciding among a handful of one-loss teams just yet.

4. Baylor is out, TCU could be in

The Bears are third-to-last among the one-loss teams in the poll, indicating their atrocious non-conference schedule is holding them back. That's a problem when you consider they could finish with just one loss and win the Big 12. Even if they were to do that, the chances are slim they can crack the top four. The committee is pretty clearly punishing them for weak scheduling.

On the flip side, TCU could end up jumping Alabama and maybe even Oregon next week if the Horned Frogs take care of business at home against Kansas State. Long noted the Wildcats moved ahead of Michigan State because of their "controlling" victory over Oklahoma State, and TCU gets the team at the perfect time and in the perfect place. There's a lot to be sorted out going forward, but the Horned Frogs have to like their ability to move up in the next few sets of rankings, and that loss to Baylor is not being held against them as much as we think.

Check out the alternate college football uniforms worn during the 2014 season.

5. Long road for Big Ten continues

In all likelihood, the Big Ten champion won't be in the Playoff, nor will it find itself in the Rose Bowl. That has to be tough, as Michigan State's loss to Oregon seems to be held against it more than others, and the league as a whole still can't find much respect. Whoever wins the Kansas State/TCU game will almost assuredly stay ahead of the Spartans among the one-loss teams, and it's possible two Pac-12 squads can say the same next Tuesday.

Not helping things? Nebraska remains ahead of Ohio State in the top 25 ahead of the big showdown in East Lansing between the Buckeyes and Spartans. Not even the Big Ten game of the year will change the perception of the conference enough to land a final four team.

6. Group of Five bid still in question

After two weeks, it's pretty clear the committee isn't going to reward Marshall just because it's undefeated. That's part of the reason why the Thundering Herd didn't crack the top 25, even as East Carolina dropped out with its second loss Saturday.

The question remains, though -- who will step up and grab the bid? Long said the committee didn't rank teams beyond the 25, so it's clear there wasn't much discussion on Group of Five teams such as ECU, Boise State and Colorado State beyond the fact they're not worthy of being in the rankings. That seems to indicate this will come down to the end, and a close call between a likely undefeated Marshall and one of the AAC or Mountain West champion.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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