Path to College Football Playoff: Predicting the final four

We know who's in and who's out of the first ever College Football Playoff at the moment thanks to the release of the selection committee's top 25 on Tuesday. We still have plenty of football to be played, however, so things should change plenty between now and the final set of rankings that actually matter Dec. 7.

If past years are any indication, we're in store for a crazy November and a handful of wild games that will affect the race for the national title. With that in mind, here is a look at the top 10 teams in the CFB Playoff rankings and where each might find themselves come December.

1. Mississippi State (currently 7-0)

Predicting the remaining schedule:
Nov. 1: vs. Arkansas, win
Nov. 8: at UT Martin, win
Nov. 15: at Alabama, loss
Nov. 22: vs. Vanderbilt, win
Nov. 29: at Ole Miss, loss
Final projected record: 10-2
The road ahead: The Bulldogs earned the distinction of being the first ever No. 1 in the committee's rankings, but they have an uphill battle if they're to remain there. While a double-digit win season appears to be a good bet, the team won't be favored on its trips to Alabama and to Ole Miss for the Egg Bowl. Dan Mullen's squad has the talent and moxie to run the table, but it will be tough, given the division they're in.

2. Florida State (7-0)

Predicting the remaining schedule:
Oct. 30: at Louisville, win
Nov. 8: vs. Virginia, win
Nov. 15: at Miami, win
Nov. 22: vs. Boston College, win
Nov. 29: vs. Florida, win
Final projected record: 13-0
The road ahead: This is not last year's squad that was blowing out opponents left and right. The running game is way below standards, the offensive line has issues, and the defense is not close to what it was a season ago. Still, there's talent all over the place for the Seminoles, including one of the best in the country at quarterback who has never lost a game. Louisville, Miami and Boston College will provide scares, but in the end FSU moves past Duke in the ACC title game unscathed.

3. Auburn (6-1)

Predicting the remaining schedule:
Nov. 1: at Ole Miss, loss
Nov. 8: vs. Texas A&M, win
Nov. 15: at Georgia, win
Nov. 22: vs. Samford, win
Nov. 29: at Alabama, loss
Final projected record: 9-3
The road ahead: Bumpy is one way to describe the Tigers' schedule the next month, and that's particularly true on the road. No team has repeated as SEC champs in ages, and that will be the case in 2014 as the Tigers drop after a loss to Ole Miss this week and in the Iron Bowl. Trouncing a Big Ten opponent in Florida, however, isn't a bad way to end the year.

4. Ole Miss (7-1)

Predicting the remaining schedule:
Nov. 1: vs. Auburn, win
Nov. 8: vs. Presbyterian, win
Nov. 22: at Arkansas, win
Nov. 29: vs. Mississippi State, win
Final projected record: 12-1
The road ahead: The bad Bo Wallace showed up in Baton Rouge last week, and the Rebels are banged up in a number of spots. Still, their defense is one of the best in the country and will keep them in every game left on the schedule. With just four games left, including only one on the road against a team last in the division, Ole Miss should still be able to run the table and win the division on a tiebreaker over Alabama. That results in a trip to Atlanta to take on a very beatable team from the East.

5.Oregon (7-1)

Predicting the remaining schedule:
Nov. 1: vs. Stanford, win
Nov. 8: at Utah, win
Nov. 22: vs. Colorado, win
Nov. 29: at Oregon State, win
Final projected record: 12-1
The road ahead: Stanford and Utah present issues for the Ducks because of their defenses, but the way Oregon has been playing, it's easy to see them win out as they've fixed their offensive line problems and stayed mostly healthy. Having the best player in the country helps, too. In the end, they'll have the toughest opponent out of all of the conference title games to end the season.

6. Alabama (7-1)

Predicting the remaining schedule:
Nov. 8: at LSU, win
Nov. 15: vs. Mississippi State, win
Nov. 22: vs. W. Carolina, win
Nov. 29: vs. Auburn, win
Final projected record: 11-1
The road ahead: The LSU contest has gone from very winnable to very interesting on the road in a span of about two weeks, but the Tide will be coming off a bye heading into the game with a talent advantage just about everywhere. With the final three at home, however, it's possible Nick Saban will turn in another great season in Tuscaloosa without a division title.

7. TCU (6-1)

Predicting the remaining schedule:
Nov. 1: at West Virginia, win
Nov. 8: vs. Kansas State, win
Nov. 15: at Kansas, win
Nov. 22: at Texas, win
Nov. 29: vs. Iowa State, win
Final projected record: 11-1
The road ahead: It's not a stretch to say that TCU is playing as well as anybody in the country, and that's especially true coming off an 82-point performance. The back end of the schedule looks easy, so the Horned Frogs' next two games will help shape their playoff hopes for better or worse, but they're plenty capable of winning against West Virginia and Kansas State.

8. Michigan State (7-1)

Predicting the remaining schedule:
Nov. 8: vs. Ohio State, win
Nov. 15: at Maryland, win
Nov. 22: vs. Rutgers, win
Nov. 29: at Penn State, win
Final projected record: 11-1
The road ahead: It remains an uphill battle for the Spartans to sneak into the Playoff, but that doesn't mean some strong results down the stretch are out of the question. The Ohio State game is looking like less of a boost than it was at the beginning of the year, and the two Big Ten newcomers (Maryland and Rutgers) getting blown out doesn't help either. Still, Mark Dantonio has already begun politicking for his team, which should be able to run the table with ease if it keeps playing up to its ability.

9. Kansas State (6-1)

Predicting the remaining schedule:
Nov. 1: vs. Oklahoma State, win
Nov. 8: at TCU, loss
Nov. 20: at West Virginia, loss
Nov. 29: vs. Kansas, win
Dec. 6: at Baylor, loss
Final projected record: 8-4
The road ahead: Few teams have a remaining schedule as difficult as Bill Snyder's squad. What's worse, just about all of the big games are on the road. The Wildcats have an underrated defense and two playmakers in Tyler Lockett and Jake Waters, but that still might not be enough.

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

10. Notre Dame (6-1)

Predicting the remaining schedule:
Nov. 1: at. Navy, win
Nov. 8: at Arizona State, loss
Nov. 15: vs. Northwestern, win
Nov. 22: vs. Louisville, win
Nov. 29: at USC, win
Final projected record: 10-2
The road ahead: The Irish still have a chance to build up their resume with big games against power opponents. They might not be favored at Arizona State, and the rivalry game on the road with USC will be tricky. Brian Kelly and company still have a chance to put together a much better season than anybody thought possible when those starters were suspended.

Projected Final Four

1. Ole Miss
2. Oregon
3. Florida State
4. TCU
Analysis: As SEC champions and survivors of the West Division, Ole Miss earns the No. 1 seed at the end of the year and will no doubt impress the committee with their defensive statistics they compile. Oregon earns the No. 2 seed with a win over then-one-loss Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game to move ahead of undefeated Florida State, with the committee citing the Ducks' strength of schedule and the mitigation of their loss to Arizona because of injuries. Barely undefeated with some close calls, Seminoles fans get upset when they're shipped off to the Rose Bowl to play Oregon after falling to the third seed. Finally, TCU edges out Alabama and Michigan State with a Big 12 title in its pocket and a bunch of blowout wins to end the year.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content