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College Football Playoff Top 25: Mississippi State comes in at #4

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Mississippi State stays in the playoff picture after a loss to Alabama this past weekend.

ESPN

Many speculated that it would happen, and tonight we saw that Mississippi State's loss to Alabama didn't set them back to much, as the Bulldogs remained in the top four in this week's College Football Playoff top 25.  Here's a full look at the poll, and then I'll offer some additional thoughts:

  1. Alabama
  2. Oregon
  3. Florida State
  4. Mississippi State
  5. TCU
  6. Ohio State
  7. Baylor
  8. Ole Miss
  9. UCLA
  10. Georgia
  11. Michigan State
  12. Kansas State
  13. Arizona State
  14. Auburn
  15. Arizona
  16. Wisconsin
  17. Utah
  18. Georgia Tech
  19. USC
  20. Missouri
  21. Oklahoma
  22. Clemson
  23. Nebraska
  24. Louisville
  25. Minnesota

  • Hooooooo boy, is that ever something.  With the current pairings, Mississippi State would face -- you guessed it -- the Alabama Crimson Tide in a #1 vs. #4 matchup in New Orleans on New Year's Day.  The Bulldogs just finished up with a close loss to the Tide on the road last Saturday, so you can't tell me they wouldn't be motivated to get another shot at the Tide: one that would be for a chance to play in the national championship game.
  • Mississippi State's resume took a big hit as expected, as LSU and Texas A&M both dropped out, with Auburn sliding down to #14.  That leaves the Bulldogs with only one current top-25 win, however LSU and A&M could always slide back into the back end of the poll by year's end.
  • Mississippi State staying in the top four means that the committee clearly thought MSU belonged on the field with Alabama Saturday despite their mistakes.  However, it also means the committee values Alabama quite a bit -- they did move from #5 to #1 this week after the win -- so our fate is now likely tied to the Crimson Tide (see what I did there), barring MSU making the SEC Championship game ourselves. The road is simple for State now: win your next two games and you are likely* in, but lose one of the final two and you're out and likely headed to the Orange Bowl.  The good news is that Alabama's chances to lose to Western Carolina or a dejected Auburn team are slim to none, sot he MSU "quality loss" should stand.  On the flip side, that also means MSU's outside remaining shot at an SEC West championship is likely out.  We will see; a lot can still happen in the final few weeks.
  • Oregon remains at #2 this week, with Florida State again failing to move from their #3 position.  With UCLA slowly creeping back up into the top ten, I'd expect the Pac-12 winner to get one of the four spots.
  • TCU, Ohio State and Baylor are all on MSU's heels, and frankly it's going to be a concern right down to when the final, official rankings are released.  Granted, MSU still has to play and win a very difficult game at Ole Miss, so nothing to should be assumed as far as making the playoff, but even if the Bulldogs do win that game, I'm nervous that the committee is going to backdoor one of those three teams over us in an effort to avoid the #SECbias outcry.  All three teams do have good resumes, but they all have their flaws much like Mississippi State's.  I say all this to say: even if State wins the Egg Bowl, don't assume they'll automatically get that final spot.
  • They are still back there, but a sick, sick part of my mind can't help but wonder if Ole Miss might  backdoor themselves a spot into the playoff if they beat Arkansas and MSU in the final two weeks.  They do hold a win over #1, although their two losses have looked worse in the last two weeks.  I know, I know, it's awful to think about, but I'm just playing out scenarios in my mind here as I look at the rankings.  It would likely be a tough task for them to jump three one-loss teams, so maybe we don't have to worry as much about it.
So, those are my initial thoughts on the poll.  What do you all think?