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College Football Playoff Rankings: Alabama Only SEC Team in the Top 4; Bowls Shaken Up

Mississippi State might also be the conference's only other team in a big-money bowl. Where might the Bulldogs end up?

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

There's one more edition of the selection committee rankings before the final Top 25 is revealed Sunday, along with the bowl seedings and, of course, playoff match-ups. And as we get closer to those final rankings and some teams aren't moving up, or at least up fast enough in the eyes of their fans, people are getting a little anxious. Here's what the committee delivered this week.

Rank Team Last week
1 Alabama (11-1) 1
2 Oregon (11-1) 2
3 TCU (10-1) 5
4 Florida State (12-0) 3
5 Ohio State (11-1) 6
6 Baylor (10-1)
7 Arizona (10-2)
8 Michigan State (10-2)
9 Kansas State (9-2)
10 Mississippi State (10-2)
11 Georgia Tech (10-2)
12 Ole Miss (9-3)
13 Wisconsin (10-2) 14
14 Georgia (9-3)
15 UCLA (9-3)
16 Missouri (10-2)
17 Arizona State (9-3)
18 Clemson (9-3)
19 Auburn (8-4)
20 Oklahoma (8-3)
21 Louisville (9-3)
22 Boise State (10-2)
23 Utah (8-4)
24 LSU (8-4)
25 Southern Cal (8-4)

I'm not entirely sure that the committee isn't just trolling #FSUTwitter at this point -- which, I should add, is an endeavor I wholeheartedly support. In any case, the SEC is now officially down to one team (Alabama) in the playoff picture, which was always the most likely outcome. Mississippi State drops like a rock after the loss to Ole Miss (as you might expect), going from No. 4 to No. 10. The Rebels jump seven spots, going from No. 19 to No. 12. Georgia falls five places, from No. 9 to No. 14, meaning the Dawgs probably need a week of chaos to put them back int eh conversation for a playoff bowl. Missouri edges up one place, from No. 17 to No. 16 -- largely because Auburn falls from No. 15 to No. 19. A trio of Tigers ends with LSU, which re-enters the rankings at No. 24.

Elsewhere, UCLA's loss to Stanford sends the Bruins tumbling from eighth to 15th; Arizona, which then secured a place in the Pac-12 Championship Game by beating Arizona State, zipped up from No. 11 to No. 7. Arizona State fell from 13th to 17th. Georgia Tech jumped up to 11th -- an advance of five spaces -- after beating Georgia. Most of the rest of the teams moved up or down two or three places at most.

Many of us have said for a long time that having the selection committee release weekly rankings is a colossally bad idea. There is only one entity on the face of the planet that benefits from having weekly rankings, and it's ESPN, because Worldwide Leader has a show it can put on every Tuesday night that a lot of college football fans will watch. It is another example of ESPN's business needs overriding the best interests of whatever sport is involved. Nothing that has happened this season has given me, at least, any reason to believe differently.

In fact, the committee having to explain itself is creating a stream of moment-by-moment statements that are difficult to understand or in some cases flatly contradictory. For example:

Some of what's fueling this is a form of confirmation bias. Like every other human being, selection committee members like to believe that their thoughts on a certain topic are correct, particularly after they've put those thoughts in front of millions of people every week. It's hard to move away from that. Would TCU still be ranked ahead of Baylor right now if the rankings started today? Maybe -- even probably. But there's a natural inclination to stick with the original order unless something dramatic happens, and that's an inclination that wouldn't exist if the selection committee waited until the end of the season, when all the games were done, to rank the teams.

In the end, the season-ending Top 25 is the only ranking that's going to matter at all. Why do we need the rest of them?

Onto the bowl seedings. There will be some changes here.

Sugar: (1) Alabama vs. (4) Florida State
Rose: (2) Oregon vs. (3) TCU
Orange: Michigan State vs. Georgia Tech
Cotton: Baylor vs. Mississippi State
Peach: Kansas State vs. Ohio State
Fiesta: Arizona vs. Boise State

As always, the playoff semi-finals are spoken for, and the Orange is color-by-number. The noteworthy thing is that Michigan State moves into the Orange Bowl spot that had been occupied by an SEC team, but since the next-ranking SEC team (Mississippi State) would still get in, that really doesn't affect which teams get in. The Spartans are paired with Georgia Tech, an ACC team that would actually earn their Orange Bowl berth based on the rankings instead of the contract, for a change.

After that, you're left with Ohio State, Baylor, Arizona, Michigan State, Kansas State and Mississippi State. Baylor is basically a lock for the Cotton Bowl, which means Kansas State won't go there. Arizona and Boise State are likely locks for the Fiesta Bowl, so Kansas State ends up in the Peach. From a geographical standpoint, I think Ohio State in the Peach and Mississippi State in the Cotton probably make the most sense, and make for some pretty good games, so let's put them there for now.

Now, here's where things get interesting for fans of SEC teams that are just barely scraping into bowl eligibility: The more SEC teams in the playoff-aligned bowls (which don't have the same conference restrictions that the BCS had), the better games your team will get into. On a practical level, that means rooting for Baylor to hammer Kansas State this weekend, which could send the Wildcats down past idle Ole Miss.

If that happens, Ole Miss would make a playoff bowl, and everybody else moves up a spot. That wouldn't matter much for most of the teams, who will either end up in the Citrus Bowl or in the pool of six SEC teams -- but it might pull some of the lower teams up into that pool, or ensure they go to an SEC-affiliated bowl instead of having to scrape for an empty Sun Belt spot or something.

Also, as much as I hate to say it: You best cheer for Ohio State to beat Wisconsin in the B1G Championship Game. If the Badgers beat Ohio State, they get a playoff bowl berth they wouldn't likely earn otherwise -- and the Buckeyes would probably still be in the mix. That could squeeze out a team like Mississippi State and certainly block Ole Miss from getting in.

Who wins the other two championship games is immaterial. Florida State would get the Orange Bowl spot if Georgia Tech beats it -- but the Yellow Jackets would climb high enough to guarantee a place in another playoff bowl. Oregon is not dropping out of position for a playoff-aligned bowl, and unless the Ducks completely destroy the Wildcats, Arizona is also probably going to remain above Ole Miss.