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Third College Football Playoff rankings for 2014 released; Mississippi State stays on top

Mississippi State stayed at number one, but after that there were a few changes.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The third College Football Playoff rankings were released tonight, and Mississippi State -- as expected -- remained at #1.  After that though, things shook up a bit after week 11's results.  Let's take a look and then we'll discuss things:

Rank Team Last week Week 11 result Toughest opponent left (per F/+) If the season ended today ...
1 Mississippi State (9-0) 1 Won 45-16 vs. Tennessee-Martin Alabama Sugar Bowl vs. TCU
2 Oregon (9-1) 4 Won 51-27 at No. 17 Utah Oregon State Rose Bowl vs. Florida State
3 Florida State (9-0) 2 Won 34-20 vs. Virginia Miami Rose Bowl vs. Oregon
4 TCU (8-1) 6 Won 41-20 vs. No. 7 Kansas State Texas Sugar Bowl vs. Mississippi State
5 Alabama (8-1) 5 Won 20-13 (OT) at No. 16 LSU Auburn Orange Bowl vs. Clemson
6 Arizona State (8-1) 14 Won 55-31 vs. No. 10 Notre Dame Arizona New Year's bowl
7 Baylor (8-1) 13 Won 48-14 at No. 15 Oklahoma Kansas State New Year's bowl
8 Ohio State (8-1) 14 Won 49-37 at No. 8 Michigan State Minnesota New Year's bowl
9 Auburn (7-2) 3 Lost 41-38 vs. Texas A&M Alabama New Year's bowl
10 Ole Miss (8-2) 12 Won 48-0 vs. Presbyterian Mississippi State New Year's bowl
11 UCLA (8-2) 18 Won 44-30 at Washington USC New Year's bowl
12 Michigan State (7-2) 8 Lost 49-37 vs. No. 14 Ohio State Maryland
13 Kansas State (7-2) 7 Lost 41-20 at No. 6 TCU Baylor
14 Arizona (7-2) 19 Won 38-20 vs. Colorado Arizona State
15 Georgia (7-2) 20 Won 63-31 at Kentucky Auburn
16 Nebraska (8-1) 13 Idle Wisconsin
17 LSU (7-3) 16 Lost 20-13 (OT) vs. No. 5 Alabama Arkansas
18 Notre Dame (7-2) 10 Lost 55-31 at No. 9 Arizona State Louisville
19 Clemson (7-2) 21 Won 34-20 at Wake Forest Georgia Tech Orange Bowl vs. Alabama
20 Wisconsin (7-2) 25 Won 34-16 at Purdue Nebraska
21 Duke (8-1) 22 Won 27-10 at Syracuse Virginia Tech
22 Georgia Tech (8-2) 24 Won 56-23 at NC State Georgia
23 Utah (6-3) 17 Lost 51-27 vs. No. 4 Oregon Arizona
24 Texas A&M (7-3) NR Won 41-38 at No. 3 Auburn LSU
25 Minnesota (7-2) NR Won 51-14 vs. Iowa Ohio State

  • The initial reaction to Oregon jumping Florida State was likely "WOAH!", but when you think about it, the difference between the two spots is literally nothing.  #2 will play #3 in one of the semifinal games on New Year's Day, so the Noles and Ducks could switch back and forth every week until December 7th and it wouldn't matter.
  • Even though it doesn't matter that they switched places with FSU, I have a hard time understanding why Oregon did jump to #2.  The Ducks best win of the season (Michigan State) got handled at home by Ohio State this past weekend, while this week they essentially ran away from Utah after a freak (bone-headed) play by Utah essentially swung the game completely back in Oregon's favor.  They do have a big win over UCLA on the road that looks better as the Bruins climb back north in the polls, but I'm still not sold on the Ducks.  Probably my #SECbias
  • The good news that does come out of Oregon jumping FSU is we now see that one bad loss doesn't kill a team's playoff chances.  That will be crucial for Mississippi State as the Bulldogs still have two top-ten teams remaining on their schedule.  If the Bulldogs lose a close game to Alabama Saturday night, I'm not sold that they'll drop out of the top four, while Bama would likely to go to number one.  Additionally, if State beats Alabama but loses to Ole Miss, they would likely stay in the top four.  In that situation though, it will be interesting to see if Mississippi State would have any chance if they lost the SEC Championship game too.  Hopefully it won't come to that.
  • Auburn remains in the top ten despite a loss to Texas A&M, which is good for MSU.  The Aggies jumped into the top 25 as well, which again is good for MSU.  Those wins continue to look good for now.
  • Baylor made up some ground this week, but it's clear that the argument between them and TCU is going to go until the final poll unless one team loses again.  The head to head win wasn't enough to catapult Baylor over TCU this week, and it will be interesting to see if it ever will in time for Baylor to make the playoff.
  • Despite its loss to Alabama, LSU only dropped one spot this week, which is good to see.  LSU was essentially a push with the Crimson Tide Saturday, so I was happy to see them not drop too far.  I think they fit well where they are in the poll.
  • It looks like Arizona is benefiting from Oregon's rise too, as they rose five spots this week after beating a bad Colorado team by 18.
  • The battle for that final spot just gets tougher each week as Arizona State, Baylor and Ohio State all moved much closer this week.  The final few weeks are going to be nuts.