The new College Football Playoff Rankings came out Tuesday night, and there was a surprise at the fourth position.
While Alabama, Oregon and Florida State took the top three spots in that order, Mississippi State, who lost to the Crimson Tide 25-20 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicates, stayed in the picture while TCU and Ohio State were the first two out of the playoff.
Three teams in the top four find themselves sitting pretty as the season nears its end.
Oregon has already won the Pac 12 South Division, and if they win out and win the Pac 12 title game, they are in. Their opponent is yet to be determined for the conference title game. Four teams are in the hunt currently.
Florida State, who plays the weakest schedule of the top four teams, will get a spot if they remain undefeated and win the ACC Championship Game (their opponent would be Georgia Tech as of today), they are in.
The SEC West has not been won, but Alabama controls their own destiny in the final two weeks. A laughable matchup at home against West Carolina and then the Iron Bowl against Auburn in Tuscaloosa is all that remains. Unless Auburn pulls off another dramatic upset two years in a row, Alabama is winning the West division and will be in Atlanta for the title game.
And then there are the others.
Let's take a look at the one-loss teams who are in consideration for that last spot.
Mississippi State sits in that precious fourth position. Their loss comes against an Alabama team that has been on a roll since their loss against Ole Miss and their close win the following week over Arkansas.
The Bulldogs are at home for their final two games. Vanderbilt this week, and then the Egg Bowl against in-state rival Ole Miss. Unless West Carolina pulls off a monumental upset in Tuscaloosa this weekend, fans in Starkville better start yelling "War Eagle!" when Auburn takes on Alabama.
The committee's decision to keep Mississippi State in the four team playoff is a sign that they are currently the one-loss team in the best shape going forward. One downside for the Bulldogs: They only have one win against a current Top 25 team. LSU and Texas A&M have fallen out. Either way, they might get that fourth spot without going to Atlanta.
This weeks first team out, TCU, has one win over a Top 25 team (12 Kansas State) and a close loss against a Top 10 team (7 Baylor).
The Horned Frogs, as well as Baylor, don't get a boost from their non-conference games early in the season and there has been a fall-off of Big 12 teams in the Top 25 as the weeks have gone by. Kansas State is the only other team from their conference in the College Football Playoff Top 25.
TCU did not help their resume with a tight game against a lowly Kansas squad, who fired Charlie Weis and has only one conference win in 2014. Probably one reason why they were knocked down a spot in this weeks poll.
Baylor may have defeated TCU in a 61-58 shootout, but their loss against now unranked West Virginia will haunt them and their early season schedule. The same ordeals TCU will deal with going into the final stretch.
The Big 12 Conference champion is the outright regular season winner.
TCU has a bye this week. They will finish the season with a game at Texas next week and a home game against Iowa State.
The Bears have three straight home games to finish the season. They host Oklahoma State this Saturday, Texas Tech and then (12) Kansas State to finish the season.
If Baylor runs the table, that gives them two wins against Top 25 teams, and they will win the Big 12 title via the tiebreaker. That should put them above TCU, but not in the top four.
Ohio State. Oh, boy.
The Buckeyes could win the award for "most improved team" in college football. There's no doubt about that. Not a lot of teams would be lining up to face Ohio State right now.
Their week 2 loss at home against Virginia Tech will stick with them like a bad case of fleas. The Hokies are currently 5-5 (2-4 in the ACC). This is not helping their stock. The medicore non-conference and conference schedule don't help, either. The Buckeyes played almost every non Power Five conference team in Ohio at the Horseshoe.
Ohio State plays Indiana and Michigan to finish the year, which means they will win the Big Ten East division and most likely face Wisconsin in the title game in Indianapolis.
The weak schedule and loss to Virginia Tech will hurt them unless the right pieces fall in the next three weeks.
The two-loss teams in the top ten (Ole Miss, UCLA, and Georgia), good luck. You'll need it. It is down to four schools, and you're not a part of it.
A good time to discuss expanding to an eight-team playoff?