Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – It was a wacky Week 6 in the college
football world, which saw some of the favored programs to make the first-ever
college football playoff at the end of this season drop in the AP Top 25 thanks
to untimely losses.
Following defeats to No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma, the Top
25 rankings experienced a serious shakeup earlier in the week. Teams like
Auburn (No. 2), Mississippi State and Ole Miss (tied at No. 3) and Baylor (No.
5) have all moved up in the rankings.
The college football schedule is only about halfway through its duration, and
one can expect more to happen later this season that will change the outlook
of the Top 25.
But if the season ended now, and the college football playoff were to start
today, here’s what we would be looking at:
Florida State would play either Ole Miss or Mississippi State, and the team
not playing the top-ranked Seminoles would take on second-ranked Auburn, last
year’s national runner-up.
Somehow this lineup doesn’t seem very sexy. A four-team college playoff
without Alabama or Oregon? Who would’ve seen that coming?
One loss isn’t necessarily a dream killer, and a strong contingency of college
football fans likely doesn’t believe Alabama and Oregon are down and out. But
let’s examine the teams that would almost certainly make it today should the
season end now.
There’s a feeling across the nation that perhaps Florida State (5-0) shouldn’t
be the top-ranked team. The Seminoles needed overtime to dispel Clemson a few
weeks back when Jameis Winston was suspended (though he got a significant
amount of camera time for someone not on the field). Perhaps the Seminoles
haven’t built up as strong of a team around Winston as people may have
But until Florida State loses a game, the team may retain the top ranking in
the country. The Atlantic Coast Conference will provide some challenges for
the Seminoles, and a clash with currently sixth-ranked Notre Dame on Oct. 18
will be a big test.
Winston, after a Heisman Trophy-winning season and a few off-field blunders,
ranks 44th in the nation in passing yards (1,288), and has eight touchdown
passes against five interceptions. It’s not the best ratio for last year’s
Heisman winner. If the playoffs started now, the defending national champs
might have a hard time handling the red-hot play of any of the three other
Auburn (5-0) has only really received a scare from then-20th-ranked Kansas
State in the Tigers’ 20-14 win in Week 3. Otherwise, Auburn has blown out
every opponent it has played, scoring at least 41 points in each of those four
contests and limiting opponents to a high of 21 points.
Quarterback Nick Marshall has been sensational in his quest for the Heisman
Trophy. Marshall has thrown for eight touchdowns and 755 yards, and rushed
for four more scores on 58 carries. The team’s offense, which averages 42
points per game, has been overpowering, while the defense (allowing 14.4 ppg)
is suffocating. The team has its sights set on making it back to the title
game, but must compete with a tough SEC and Mississippi State this weekend.
Speaking of the Bulldogs (5-0), there may not be a hotter team in the nation
at the moment. Mississippi State is fresh off a victory over Texas A&M which
boosted the team into the Top 10 for the first time since the 1999 season.
When it comes to Heisman candidates, Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott just
might be at the top of the list. The dual-threat signal caller has tossed 13
touchdown passes and over 1,200 yards and rushed for six touchdowns in five
games. He has even caught a touchdown.
The Bulldogs, like Auburn, are averaging over 42 points and are holding
opponents to scoring totals in the teens. Mississippi State is well-rounded
offensively, with a strong running game that averages 272.6 yards per game. The
team’s defense is tenacious, having forced nine interceptions, three fumble
recoveries and 18 sacks in five games. This weekend’s matchup with Auburn will
be a spoiler for one team and a huge boost for the other.
Trailing in last weekend’s game with Alabama headed into the fourth quarter,
Ole Miss (5-0) rattled off two touchdowns and kept the Bama offense quiet to
hold on to a 23-17 victory. The win vaulted the Rebels into a two-way
tie with intrastate and SEC rival Mississippi State for third in the nation.
Ole Miss has employed a stifling defense that has kept strong offenses like
Boise State (13 points) Vanderbilt (three points), Memphis (three points) and
Alabama silent this season. The Rebels rank fifth in the FBS in total defense
(277.6 ypg allowed) and second in scoring defense (10.2 ppg).
It will be a tough road moving forward with games against Texas A&M, LSU,
Auburn and a regular-season finale against Mississippi State still on the
slate. But if the team can get through Alabama, perhaps the sky is the limit.
Baylor, Notre Dame, TCU and Arizona are four Top 10 teams that have yet to
lose a game this season, but with conference play officially in full swing,
the real standouts in the FBS will start to emerge. Maybe it’s exactly what we
see right now.
The playoff outlook as it stands at the moment is a bit of a surprise with
Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma on the outside looking in. But as the weeks roll
on, we’ll see how things continue to change.