NCAA Football Playoff 2014: Latest Predictions After Week 1 Standings

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2014

EUGENE, OR - AUGUST 30:  Quarterback Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks passes against the South Dakota Coyotes at Autzen Stadium on August 30, 2014 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

From the looks of college football's opening week, the NCAA picked the perfect season to institute the College Football Playoff.

There's no powerhouse that looks poised to run away with the top ranking. If the newly instituted postseason began today, any of the participating squads would enter the melee with a solid chance of coming out on top.

While South Carolina saw its CFB chances vanish, the top-seeded teams all exited Week 1 with a victory. That's enough to keep them in the top four for now, but it might not stay that way for long in a deep pool of contenders.

Note, these rankings reflect my predictions for the next AP poll. I have the No. 2 and 3 squads swapping places for now, but don't be surprised if bigger changes ensue later in the season.

NCAA Associated Press Poll: Week 1
1Florida State1-01,496
5Ohio State1-01,207
8Michigan State1-01,080
9South Carolina0-11,015
17Notre Dame1-0445
19Arizona State1-0357
20Kansas State1-0242
21Texas A&M1-0238
23North Carolina1-0194


Projected College Football Playoff Matchups:

No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma

Florida State came dangerously close to ruining its title defense just as it began. Oklahoma State pushed the Seminoles to the brink in a 37-31 loss.

Jameis Winston compiled 370 passing yards, but he also coughed up two interceptions that kept the Cowboys hopeful. He told Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde that the team needs to play better after surviving a close call.

"We got to get better," Winston said. "I told the guys, 'Hey, that’s an eye opener.' [The Cowboys] played their tails off. So we got to go higher."

The defending Heisman Trophy winner hardly deserves all of the blame. The team averaged 3.4 yards per carry while allowing three opposing scores through the ground.

Since they're the defending champions, expect the Seminoles to receive the benefit of the doubt for now. They should return to normalcy with a convincing victory over The Citadel on Saturday night.

NORMAN, OK - AUGUST 30:  Quarterback Trevor Knight #9 hands off the ball to running back Keith Ford #21 of the Oklahoma Sooners during the game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs August 30, 2014 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla
Brett Deering/Getty Images

Oklahoma took a positive in proving it belongs among the nation's top squads. Bob Stoops' squad outgained Louisiana Tech by 191 yards during a 48-16 Week 1 victory.

The Sooners imposed their will on the ground, gaining 183 rushing yards and five touchdowns with Samaje Perine leading the brigade. While they would have been considered a sizable underdog against Florida State a week ago, the Sooners may feel a bit more optimistic about their chances now. 


No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Alabama

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 30:  Blake Sims #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide enters the field to face the West Virginia Mountaineers at Georgia Dome on August 30, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Crimson Tide better watch themselves if they don't want to fall any further. 

Yes, they best West Virginia last weekend, but a 33-23 victory won't garner them championship praise. Clint Trickett kept the Mountaineers alive with 365 passing yards, exposing a once feared secondary.

Quarterbacks Blake Sims and Jacob Coker were expected to enter the opener in a timeshare, but the fifth-year senior instead played every snap. Sims held his own, going 24-of-33 with 250 yards passing and 42 rushing, but he also surrendered an interception during the fourth quarter. 

Sports Illustrated's Zac Ellis wonders how this game will affect Alabama's quarterback controversy going forward.

Now, fans must wait and see whether the Blake Sims show has truly taken over in Tuscaloosa. Coker remains a highly touted option, but perhaps Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will embrace one simple mantra: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The real question is whether Sims can perform similarly against Alabama’s SEC schedule.

If last weekend's game is any indication, Alabama will eventually need a signal-caller who can do more than tread water. Alongside a mortal-looking defense in a loaded SEC, Nick Saban should eventually turn to the Florida State transfer if he wants to keep this playoff spot.

No such dilemma exists in Oregon, where Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota scored four touchdowns in Oregon's 62-13 opening win over South Dakota. In the process, he broke Joey Harrington's school record for touchdowns, as noted by assistant athletic director Andy McNamara.

A year removed from finishing second in total offensive yards and third in points scored, the Ducks are showing no signs of slowing down this season. They'll face arguably their toughest challenge of the year this Saturday in No. 8 Michigan State, an early showdown with major CFB implications.

While a loss clouds the playoff picture, a win over the Spartans puts Oregon in No. 1 consideration.


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