College football's rivalry week proved to be wild for teams in contention for a berth in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Just how wild? Well, we can go ahead and confidently say there will be changes in the nation's top four when the new rankings are released.
SportsCenter summed it all up with this singular tweet:
As we await the latest from the selection committee, let's look a little further down the road and predict which four squads will participate in this year's playoff. With a second loss on the season, Mississippi State is out. Also, Florida State just barely escaped defeat once again against an unranked opponent. How will these results affect the standings? Before we take a glance into the future, here's where things stood entering Week 14:
College Football Playoff Predictions
Through two-and-a-half quarters of the Iron Bowl, it looked as though this was going to change. After all, early in the third, Auburn pulled out to a 33-21 lead. How was this possible? Well, quarterback Blake Sims struggled early in the game, tossing three interceptions, and the Tigers were able to take advantage.
However, there's a reason why the Crimson Tide were ranked No. 1 in the country. They are chock-full of highly talented players and can put up a bevy of points at a moment's notice. That was the case Saturday, as wide receiver Amari Cooper ensured a victory for his team.
Cooper could be considered entrenched in the Heisman race following his 224-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Iron Bowl. In fact, according to ESPN Stats & Info, he set a new game record:
Sims overcame his early adversity and led the Crimson Tide to a convincing 55-44 victory. This win wasn't typical of Alabama, but the team showed extreme resilience when faced with adversity. That will propel it into the College Football Playoff's top seed.
Speaking of Heisman front-runners, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota may as well have etched his name on the prestigious trophy on Saturday. He completed 19 of his 25 passing attempts for 367 yards and four touchdowns, adding 39 rushing yards and two more scores in a 47-19 Civil War victory over Oregon State.
During the game, Mariota set an impressive Pac-12 record, via ESPN Stats & Info:
Accomplishing that feat in just three seasons is highly impressive. However, what's even more impressive is the quarterback's lack of turnovers. He's thrown just two interceptions this season, and that kind of efficiency is why he continues to lead his team to decisive victories.
Mariota and company have a tough test in the Pac-12 championship game, as they prepare to face an Arizona team that has defeated them twice in their last two meetings. However, it's still tough to bet against the Ducks and their extremely potent offense. It's time to lock Oregon into the No. 2 seed.
3. Florida State
The Seminoles remain in the No. 3 position by default. This team didn't put on an impressive showing Saturday against Florida, needing another comeback to secure a win against an unranked opponent.
This has been an ongoing trend for Florida State, and this performance had the team poised for a drop to the No. 4 spot, but a loss by Mississippi State allowed the Seminoles to stay put. This team needs better play from quarterback Jameis Winston in a hurry. He tossed four interceptions against the Gators, and that won't fly in the ACC Championship Game against a talented Georgia Tech team.
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted a not-so-great statistic regarding the quarterback:
The Yellow Jackets are capable of eating up clock with a very solid running game, and Florida State's defense has struggled in that department recently. Still, it's tough to go against the Seminoles in their final clash before the College Football Playoff, as the team is very well rounded and continues to find ways to win.
Expect the Seminoles to squeeze past Georgia Tech and earn a spot in the playoff. But, if they don't show any kind of improvement on Dec. 6, don't expect to see them in the national championship game.
The Horned Frogs will be the team that takes advantage of Mississippi State's loss and earn a berth as the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoff. Why is this? Because not only is TCU decimating opponents, but the team is scoring some serious style points by finding paydirt in a variety of ways.
TCU absolutely routed Texas Thursday in Austin, winning 48-10. Those points came from three field goals, a fumble returned for a touchdown, two passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and an interception returned for a touchdown. Obviously, the Horned Frogs special teams unit was slacking.
Defensively, TCU was very impressive, picking off Tyrone Swoopes four times and holding the Longhorns running game to an average of just 2.5 yards per carry. That's the definition of an extremely well-rounded team.
Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports noted the team's quality wins this season:
Of course, teams like Ohio State and Baylor are still in the mix for this spot, but neither of those teams completely blew the doors off their respective opponents in a similar fashion during rivalry week. After TCU handles Iowa State with ease on Dec. 6, the Horned Frogs will enter the College Football Playoff.