The committee is getting bolder, as we see one-loss Oregon jumping undefeated Florida State and TCU jumping (gasp!) Alabama to grab the fourth spot, along with interesting maneuvering involving several other teams throughout the poll.
1. Mississippi State (Last Week: 1)
Handled Tennessee-Martin as expected, but now the Bulldogs have a chance to stake their claim as the no-doubt No. 1 when they travel to Tuscaloosa this weekend to take on the Tide.
2. Oregon (Last Week: 4)
It's fair to wonder how Oregon's game against Utah would have panned out without the cataclysmic mistake by the Utes' Kaelin Clay in the second quarter, but the Ducks ran away with a 24-point win. It's an impressive win on the road against a ranked team, but jumping a team that hasn't lost — even with the unattractiveness of Florida State's wins — seems like a little much. No. 3? I'll allow an argument for that.
3. Florida State (Last Week: 2)
Jameis Winston continues to play inconsistently, but the Seminoles continue to win. Some people think that will come to an end this week at Miami (I am not one of them). I don't think anyone would make the claim that FSU is one of the four best teams playing college football at this moment, but the fact remains that an undefeated team in a major conference belongs in the playoff, plain and simple.
4. TCU (Last Week: 6)
The Frogs' inclusion in the Top 4 is long overdue in my opinion, but it's nice to see the committee have the cojones to move them ahead of Alabama after a more impressive win. If the playoff started today, I think this team would win the national championship.
5. Alabama (Last Week: 5)
Tide fans are likely livid at the anti-SEC move to put TCU in Alabama's rightful spot in the playoff, but they control their own destiny to the make the Final Four, so it's hard to complain. I think the Tide knock off Mississippi State at home on Saturday and make their debut in the Top 4.
6. Arizona State (Last Week: 9)
We knew the winner of the Arizona State-Notre Dame game would emerge overrated because both were overrated going into the game, and here we are. The Sun Devils have done a nice job rallying after being dismantled at home by UCLA, but that doesn't change the fact that the game happened. Win out and beat Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship? Maybe then I'll buy them as a playoff team.
7. Baylor (Last Week: 12)
The first-ever College Football Playoff hot-button issue has emerged and it may be known from here out as the TCU-Baylor conundrum. It's basically this: Should Team A with one loss (TCU) be ranked higher because of its superior resume, or should Team B with one loss (Baylor) be ranked higher because it beat Team A? The committee has spoken and, at least for now, the answer appears to be the former.
8. Ohio State (Last Week: 14)
Time for me to eat some crow, as much as I hate to do it. I didn't give Ohio State a shot to go to Michigan State and win, but they did so by double digits. Bravo, Buckeyes. Unfortunately, they will still have to overcome that awful loss to Virginia Tech. And just like with Arizona State, the Buckeyes may be playing exceedingly well right now, but the committee still can't ignore games (read, losses) that occurred earlier in the season.
9. Auburn (Last Week: 3)
Wow. Did not see that one coming. Auburn couldn't afford a home loss to Texas A&M with road trips to Georgia and Alabama still on the docket, but that's exactly what they got as they fumbled away multiple chances to win in the closing minutes. Goodbye, horseshoe. Even with a second loss, though, Auburn is not out of playoff contention because, you know, SEC.
10. Ole Miss (Last Week: 11)
Similarly, Ole Miss is still lurking, ready to ride to pounce if teams ahead of them start dropping like flies.
11. UCLA (Last Week: 18)
I don't know exactly what about beating Washington equates to a seven-spot jump in the poll, but obviously something does. The Bruins are better suited in the mid-teens, but the cycle of overrated strikes again, as we can hear the committee whispering, "UCLA blew out Arizona State, so they MUST be good!"
12. Michigan State (Last Week: 8)
You let me down, Sparty. Michigan State can kiss any playoff hopes goodbye, as no team in the Big Ten with more than one loss has a snowball's chance at the playoff.
13. Kansas State (Last Week: 7)
Kansas State is a solid team, but the Wildcats were simply outclassed by TCU and can forget about making the playoff.
14. Arizona (Last Week: 19)
Arizona benefitted from an almost UCLA-like jump after beating ... Colorado? Am I missing something here?
15. Georgia (Last Week: 20)
Georgia has proven to be really good at beating up on a bad team after it suffers a demoralizing loss. Unfortunately that doesn't get you into the playoff, and the Bulldogs need Missouri to falter if they are even going to win their pathetic half of the conference.
16. Nebraska (Last Week: 13)
Not that I'm one to stick up for Nebraska, but the Huskers have to be wondering how they managed to drop three spots when they didn't even play a game. I still don't even know that they are this good though, but they get a chance to impress me when they play at Wisconsin this week. Wait ... I'm not who they are trying to impress?
17. LSU (Last Week: 16)
Lost to Alabama, but as we all know, a loss in the SEC West is as good as a win in any other league. Can't score, overrated.
18. Notre Dame (Last Week: 10)
Notre Dame is finally slotted about where it belongs, but it took a drubbing by Arizona State to make the comittee realize it.
19. Clemson (Last Week: 21)
The Tigers have basically been stuck in neutral in the poll as they have scraped by without Deshaun Watson, but they may have their first opportunity for a significant jump if they can win on the road at Georgia Tech this week.
20. Wisconsin (Last Week: 25)
Beat Purdue? Welcome to the top 20!
21. Duke (Last Week: 22)
Duke is still getting the least love of the one-loss teams, but that resume isn't exactly impressive compared to the rest (except Nebraska!).
22. Georgia Tech (Last Week: 24)
The Yellow Jackets are still crushing people, and they actually have a chance to move up a good bit in the polls with back-to-back games against top-20 opponents Clemson and Georgia.
23. Utah (Last Week: 17)
Utah drops zero spots after losing to Arizona State, but six spots after losing to Oregon. I understand venue and margin of defeat factor in SOME, but the committee is showing some inconsistencies from week to week.
24. Texas A&M (Last Week: NR)
You know the drill! Beat an SEC West team, skyrocket in the polls. We'll ignore that you only beat UL-Monroe by five points a week earlier.
25. Minnesota (Last Week: NR)
What a feel-good story. The Gophers are 7-2 after ... hold on, they lost to Illinois???