The College Football Playoff selection committee will meet for the first time after Week 9. The committee is responsible for selecting a Top 25 each week that reflects the best teams in the country. The Top Four of the 25 picks represent the best four teams in a given week and the picks for the college football playoff should the playoff be held the day after the picks are made. No one at Tuesdays with Horry is on the selection committee but that won’t stop us from having a little fun.
Through eight weeks of college football action, we head into Week 9 with a much more solidified field of candidates for the first ever playoff. Ole Miss stayed dominant by holding Tennessee to zero rushing yards. Alabama put Texas A&M in a headlock for four quarters. Florida State continues it’s win streak. And the fourth seed pick is a controversy in the making. Here are the picks as we head into Week 9:
1. Ole Miss
The Rebels have advanced statistics as well as the head of Big Al in their trophy room to suggest that they are the number one team in the country right now. Sure, Mississippi State’s wins look more impressive because they had three consecutive weeks of dominant wins over ranked opponents. Looking at where Texas A&M has fallen since State’s crushing victory with two consecutive blowout losses hurts the Bulldogs’ case. Also, the victory over LSU has started to look more tarnished as the Tigers only boast world beating wins over Sam Houston State, Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State and Kentucky.
Ole Miss’ wins inside and outside of the conference are starting to look increasingly better with each passing week. Boise State, Louisiana Lafayette, and Memphis, to a degree, are all in serious contention to win their conferences. Alabama has gone on to flex their historically strong depth against both Arkansas and Texas A&M. Tennessee and Vanderbilt notwithstanding, every opponent that the Rebels have come in contact with proved that they are very good teams that have been stifled by a hyperviolent defense.
Using the F/+ rankings, a measure which uses the Fremeau Efficiency Index and and the S&P+ rankings, the Rebels are currently ranked as the fourth best defense in the nation. Defensive tackle and avatar of the aggressive unit Robert Nkemdiche has recorded 17 tackles on the season with two TFLs and two sacks. The defense as a whole has recorded 53 TFLs and 18 sacks on the year (six sacks belonging to freshman DL Marquis Haynes). This is the kind of defense that specializes in disruption and destruction. With a decent offense of Bo Wallace under center, this team looks like damn near unstoppable.
2. Mississippi State
I know I just spent a paragraph trying to discredit the Bulldogs’ claim to the top spot. That doesn’t mean I don’t think they are elite. On the contrary, MSU is realer than Cam’Ron selling fashionable surgical masks to stave off Ebola. They have one of the only legitimate Heisman contenders not named Marcus Mariota. Their defense is ranked seventh in F/+. They have every legitimate claim to number one as Ole Miss does if you look at who they have beaten. I personally think Ole Miss is better based on their previous out-of-conference opponents. Both teams are still undefeated and the Egg Bowl looms large for both.
Mississippi State has a huge win over Auburn that took out all the teeth of Gus Malzahn’s potent attack. They were also able to head to Baton Rouge, at night, and score 17 unanswered points. By the time the Tigers did come roaring back, they needed a last minute miracle that never materialized. The Bulldogs’ defense has been huge in making sure that their offense, led by Dak Prescott, keeps the ball and scores touchdowns.
Auburn’s first few drives in Starkville resulted in the following: INT-FUMBLE-PUNT. The corresponding drives by MSU resulted in three touchdowns. That’s great playmaking by both sides of the ball to ensure that Nick Marshall and the Tigers stay cooled as cowbells rang in the distance.
This team has the glow of a national title contender. It’s still hard to believe that only a year ago they were 7-6.
3. Florida State
The Seminoles, though still a great team, are not the same barreling force that ran through the ACC last year. Instead, there is always an air of doubt around them. Can they beat NC State? Do they have a chance against Clemson? These are questions that would never have been asked last year when they took their coronation lap at the Rose Bowl.
Florida State has had to escape three games against less talented teams. In the case of Clemson and Notre Dame, errors by each opposing team ensured victory in the midnight hour. Jameis Winston is getting more time to throw but his throws are shorter releases to receivers who aren’t getting a lot of running room after catches. He’s still racking up a ton of yardage but read the aforementioned sentence.
While the Seminoles not be operating in the same dream crushing manner, they are an unbeaten with wins against Oklahoma State and a really good Notre Dame team. That counts for something. The rest of the schedule plays out like a cake walk to an invitation. However, a glaring exception is marked at Louisville who is 2nd in the FEI and 4th in S&P+ on defense. They are statistically one of the best. A win here all but guarantees a spot in the college football playoff with remaining dates against Miami, Virginia and Florida.
The only undefeated teams are as follows: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Florida State and Marshall. Look at the Herd’s schedule:
Yeah, they are probably only good enough for Orange or Fiesta Bowl contention. That leaves a one-loss team from either the Big 12, Big Ten, or the Pac 12. Kansas State is currently the top dog in the Big 12 with a loss to Auburn, who only lost to the reigning No. 1 in the AP Poll. Michigan State is the favorite to win the Big Ten with Ohio State chomping at it’s heels. Oregon is running over everything since Jake Fisher has been reinstated at the offensive line. So, who gets in?
The problem with the four-team playoff is that somebody is bound to get left out. Fan bases will cry foul from here to eternity but that’s just the way the cookie has crumbled in college football since it’s inception. There is going to be doubt about “true champions” in this current scheme. That’s just how it’s going to happen.
With the College Football Playoff being tied to ESPN, TV ratings are going to be a factor in the selection committee’s picks. The fact that you are nodding your head in disagreement with this is not the point. Your satisfaction as an “objective viewer” is never the point. The point is to make money but that’s not my point. I don’t make money from my selection so I am free to choose whoever I think is the best based on all information available unlike the committee.
The Oregon Ducks are a fighter plane when operating at full strength. Overcoming Michigan State, who ranks as the 13th best defensive team in F/+, is not a superflourous task. It’s one of the biggest wins the Ducks managed on their schedule. They have an opportunity to beat an even better defense in Stanford when they play on November 1st.
For now, the Ducks have beaten all comers (with the exception of Arizona) by a margin of victory that averages 24 points in six games. Their only loss against the Wildcats was at a point when they were decimated on the offensive line. Scooby Wright III’s strip of Mariota became the image that would kickoff an insane weekend of upsets. A rejuvenated OL has changed that. UCLA fell to the Ducks by 12 points in a runaway game and Washington was routed 45-20. Mariota has yet to throw a single interception which is quite impressive given the fact that he faced off against Huskies LB Shaq Thompson.
Oregon has also beaten two opponents in the Top 25 of the F/+ rankings in Michigan State (18) and UCLA (12). Kansas State has only beaten one team in the those though it happens to be the second best team and it was by way of the Sooners’ failure. Michigan State has only beaten one in Nebraska (17) by a razor thin five point margin. At this moment in time, the wins for the Ducks are more impressive and more dominating.
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
These one-loss teams all have to wait for calamity to ensue in order to be let inside:
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
- Kansas State
- Notre Dame
- Arizona State
These are all terms who have shots at getting in based on how the rest of the season plays out. There are numerous variables that have to change in order for one of them to be welcomed. Going into Week 9, these are your teams who are waiting on the three unbeatens to fall as they try desperately not to gain another loss.