By Brad Carroll
The College Football Playoff rankings hasn't been short on drama in its short history. In the latest release, undefeated Florida State was jumped in the rankings by one-loss Oregon, with both trailing No. 1 Mississippi State. Oregon might be a great team, and has one heck of a resume, but for the Ducks to jump the Seminoles is just insane.
The latest rankings curve ball means no team is safe and nothing is guaranteed in this new era of college football. While Florida State dropping below a one-loss team doesn't make much sense, it does put value on not only winning games, but doing so impressively as well. That's where the Seminoles have gotten hurt in the rankings.
The Playoff committee did get it right by putting TCU ahead of Alabama in the four-spot, meaning if the season ended today, Mississippi State would play TCU and Oregon would take on Florida State in the national semifinals. Alabama is the first team out, followed by Arizona State, Baylor and Ohio State. Of course, the four names atop the standing now could be completely different come next week.
Week 12 of the college football season brings with it a host of games with serious playoff implications, ones that can force elimination, others that could determine seeding, and more that could establish a clear favorite for the top seed.
Six of the top eight teams in the current rankings will be action, including the biggest game of them all, No. 1 Mississippi State at No. 5 Alabama. If the Bulldogs win, they are guaranteed to stay in the top spot for likely two more weeks until it faces a tough opponent in Ole Miss in the regular season finale. If the Crimson Tide win, they will move into the top four, and will likely stay there if they can beat Auburn at home in late November and then win the SEC championship.
No. 3 Florida State has a huge game as well, playing at unranked Miami as just a three-point favorite. Lose that game and the Seminoles likely won't have enough ammunition left in their season to climb back into the Playoff's top four. The same goes for No. 4 TCU (at Kansas), No. 6 Arizona State (at Oregon State) and No. 8 Ohio State (at No. 25 Minnesota). If either of those three teams lose, and it appears only the Buckeyes will be challenged on paper, their seasons will be over.
No. 9 Auburn at No. 15 Georgia is also a big game that features two teams out of Playoff contention right now, but could easily make their way back in with a victory here and a lot of help. Georgia is an interesting case as it could still win the SEC championship if it wins out, which would give it a strong case to be included in the Playoff's final four, despite having two losses to currently unranked teams.
And don't forget No. 16 Nebraska at No. 20 Wisconsin, where the winner could eventually end up taking home the Big Ten championship and make its own case for a Playoff spot.
It all makes for another exciting and history-making week in college football. We preview all of those games, 11 in total, and our college football experts pick each against the spread for the night games below and the early games here. You can now wager real money on every college football game if you so chose by clicking here. Follow us on our new Twitter account for our latest analysis and picks against the spread, we guarantee to follow you back as well.
[Click here for Part 1 of our Saturday picks column featuring the early games]
No. 9 Auburn at No. 15 Georgia, 7:15 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Auburn +2.5; Georgia -2.5
Brad's Breakdown: Both teams would need to win out and get a ton of help to make their way into the College Football Playoff, as Auburn and Georgia have each lost two games. Both have recent terrible losses as well that could ruin any hope of making a seismic jump, as Auburn lost to Texas A&M and Georgia dropped a game to Florida. Georgia has the better chance, however, as it could end up winning the SEC championship, something that would force the committee to at least discuss having the Bulldogs move up. Georgia can clinch a spot in the conference title game by winning this game and having Missouri lose one of its final three games. The Bulldogs get star running back Todd Gurley back from his four-game suspension, which obviously gives them a huge boost in the rushing attack. Freshman Nick Chubb was great in his place, rushing for at least 140 yards in each of the four games without Gurley, and should continue to see time. Auburn might have the better talent, but playing Georgia on the road is no easy task, especially considering the Bulldogs should be pumped up to play in front of the home fans for the first time since Oct. 4. Georgia wins what should be a close game.
Brad's Score: Georgia 38, Auburn 35
Craig's Score: Auburn 41, Georgia 30 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: Auburn 45, Georgia 34 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Auburn 42, Georgia 38 (upset pick)
No. 3 Florida State at Miami, 8 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Florida State -3; Miami +3
Brad's Breakdown: Jameis Winston might be the weak link of the Florida State program right now, as he has thrown six interceptions in his last three games and 11 overall this season. That's a far cry from the player who won the Heisman trophy easily last year and also led the Seminoles to the national championship. It's a big reason why Miami has been given a strong chance to pull the upset at home in one of the marquee games of the week, despite being unranked. The Hurricanes are 6-3, but have beaten Cincinnati, Virginia Tech and North Carolina the last three games. They also have a victory against Duke. Miami has lost to Louisville, Nebraska and Georgia Tech. Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya has thrown more touchdowns and less interceptions than Winston this season. Florida State, however, has owned Miami over the last four years, with an average score of 35.5-17.5. The Seminoles should have some anger in them as well, after the College Football Playoff committee dropped them from No. 2 to No. 3 in the rankings after allowing Virginia to keep their game relatively close last week. This is the perfect opponent and stage for Florida State, who has won 25 straight games, to prove to everyone it is still a national championship favorite.
Brad's Score: Florida State 28, Miami 24
Craig's Score: Miami 38, Florida State 35 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: Florida State 56, Miami 20
Matt's Score: Florida State 24, Miami 17
No. 17 LSU at Arkansas, 8 p.m., ESPN2
The Spread: LSU +2; Arkansas -2
Brad's Breakdown: LSU had Alabama beat last week, kicking a field goal with 50 seconds to play after forcing a shocking turnover. But the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, which gave Alabama great field position, and the Tide ended up tying the game on a field goal. In overtime, the Crimson Tide scored a touchdown and held LSU out of the end zone for a wild victory. The loss was LSU's third of the season and ruined whatever hope, albeit small, of contending for a Playoff spot. A week later, the Tigers are an underdog against a team that hasn't won an SEC game in more than two years. Arkansas is 4-5 overall and 0-5 in the SEC this season. The Razorbacks are 0-13 under coach Bret Bielema in his two years as head coach in SEC play and the program has lost 17 conference games in a row. The Hogs have come close this season to breaking that skid, however, blowing a big fourth-quarter lead and losing in overtime to Texas A&M, dropping a one-point decision against Alabama, and falling by a touchdown to Mississippi State. Arkansas is close to coming up with its first SEC win in a long time, but it shouldn't come at the expense of LSU.
Brad's Score: LSU 23, Arkansas 20 (upset pick)
Craig's Score: LSU 24, Arkansas 14 (upset pick)
Glenn's Score: LSU 24, Arkansas 20 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: LSU 17, Arkansas 14 (upset pick)
No. 6 Arizona State at Oregon State, 10:45 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: Arizona State -10; Oregon State +10
Brad's Breakdown: If Arizona State wins out, including the Pac-12 championship game, there should be no keeping it out of the College Football Playoff. The Sun Devils solidified their resume with a resounding victory over Notre Dame at home, winning by 24 points. Arizona State gets its next chance to impress in the late game Saturday night against a struggling Oregon State team that has lost four in a row and five of its last six games. The Beavers lost to Utah, Stanford, California and Washington State the last four weeks. Neither Cal nor Washington State have winning records this season. Oregon State struggles stopping the pass, which will give Arizona State the chance to put up a big number on the scoreboard. That's if the Sun Devils don't suffer a letdown after the big win over the Irish. Arizona State is ascending into a national title contender and should continue that with another impressive victory on the national stage.
Brad's Score: Arizona State 42, Oregon State 28
Craig's Score: Arizona State 42, Oregon State 24
Glenn's Score: Oregon State 35, Arizona State 28 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Arizona State 42, Oregon State 17
Click here for our previews and picks on the biggest early games of the day
Brad Last Week: 6-6 (spread), 8-4 (straight-up), 1-1 (upset picks)
Brad Season: 65-67-1 (spread), 101-32 (straight-up), 7-6 (upsets)
Craig Last Week: 8-4 (spread), 8-4 (straight-up), 0-0 (upset picks)
Craig Season: 63-69-1 (spread), 97-36 (straight-up), 6-8 (upsets)
Glenn Last Week: 9-3 (spread), 7-5 (straight-up), 0-1 (upset picks)
Glenn Season: 76-56-1 (spread), 99-34 (straight-up), 7-8 (upsets)
Matt Last Week: 6-6 (spread), 8-4 (straight-up), 1-1 (upset picks)
Matt Season: 65-67-1 (spread), 99-34 (straight-up), 5-6 (upsets)