Remember last weekend's debate over whether Bama or TCU should rank No. 4? It's done (and not because TCU beat Kansas by just 34-30). Don't be shocked if the Alabama team that ranked No. 7 in the AP poll a month ago ranks No. 1 in the Playoff rankings on Tuesday. Doesn't really matter where the Tide land this week, though. Nick Saban, the BCS era's best head coach, is now four wins and an FCS breather away from taking the first title of the era that followed it.
And MSU's not technically out of it. Wins against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss would clinch the SEC West, if Auburn can beat Alabama.
The committee thrust us into a whole new world last Tuesday, when it ranked an unbeaten power-conference team behind a team that had lost a game. That almost never happened in the decades of college football that were dominated by polls. And for one week, things might go back to the way they were. Sort of. The Noles could jump back over No. 2 Oregon, which is on a bye, thanks to adding another huge comeback, again on the road against a decent team. However, Bama's also moving up, and FSU's strength of schedule took a major hit Saturday.
The Pac-12 is down to one Playoff contender, and No. 11 UCLA's now the favorite in the Pac-12 South to take one more crack at Oregon. The division might be the most complicated in the sport right now, with five of six teams still in the running, but the Bruins hold tiebreakers over Arizona and ASU and have a better conference record than Utah. USC's the other team in that mix, and the Bruins and Trojans face next Saturday.
With No. 7 Baylor off, the Buckeyes beating a quality opponent could boost OSU ahead. If not, the margin thinned. Baylor now holds one win against a ranked team, a close one against No. 4 TCU, and Ohio State holds two, including a blowout at No. 12 Michigan State. The Gophers leaving the rankings in Tuesday's update will put OSU back at one going forward, but the committee gave Baylor credit last week for blowing Oklahoma out of the rankings. Either way, the Buckeyes are contenders heading into two home games and a likely ranked opponent in the Big Ten title game.
(This win further dings TCU, as the Frogs' home win over the Gophers was a prized resume line. Bad Saturday for TCU.)
The Dawgs are in the clubhouse at 6-2 in the SEC and will win the East if Missouri loses either at Tennessee next week or against Arkansas. You can't quite rule UGA either into the Playoff running or out of it -- it has two poor losses, but added a quality win Saturday and has chances at more against Georgia Tech and in the SEC Championship. But Georgia's in very good shape for a New Year's six bowl, perhaps even stealing a Peach Bowl at-large bid from Auburn.
The Big Ten West has its official favorite (in record-breaking fashion), and the main Playoff impact is this: Ohio State wants Wisconsin to win out at Iowa and against Minnesota. No win should ever be assumed, but the Buckeyes could make one last charge by beating a team ranked near the top 10. Wisconsin could just win the Big Ten itself, of course. While a team that lost to LSU and Northwestern won't make the Playoff, it would be a New Year's lock.
The Tigers will leave the top 25. Could hurt No. 10 Ole Miss, since the Rebels lost to LSU and have yet to play Arkansas.
The Irish will be unranked and will finish 9-3 at best, with no conference championship to win. They're totally out of the New Year's running.
This also hurts FSU quite a bit. With Clemson also losing, the Seminoles are probably about to have zero wins over ranked teams. If the Noles win out, they're in, but a loss now eliminates their Playoff run.
The ACC's cluster in the bottom of the committee's top 25 gained some clarity. While Georgia Tech's two losses and highly unlikely conference title path mean no Playoff, the Jackets moved into contention for the automatic Orange Bowl bid, assuming Florida State makes the Playoff. A win at No. 15 Georgia would surely clinch it. Louisville (at No. 18 Notre Dame next week) and maybe even Duke are also in it.
As for Clemson, losing QB Deshaun Watson again, as 247 Sports reported, would mean a tough time against South Carolina. The Tigers could limp into bowl season at 8-4.
Ohio State's baffling home loss back in September to Virginia Tech, which entered this Saturday at 4-5, is no longer a honking albatross. Dunno if those honk. The Hokies just beat another ranked team on the road and are back on course for bowl eligibility, so that's now merely a bad loss for OSU.
Duke still holds the ACC Coastal lead.
Maybe Mizzou will be ranked here instead of A&M. IMPORTANT THINGS down here.
Full FBS final scores
No. 5 Alabama 25, No. 1 Mississippi State 20 (recap)
No. 3 Florida State 30, Miami 26 (recap)
No. 4 TCU 34, Kansas 30 (recap)
Oregon State 35, No. 6 Arizona State 27 (recap)
No. 8 Ohio State 31, No. 25 Minnesota 24 (recap)
No. 15 Georgia 34, No. 9 Auburn 7 (recap)
No. 12 Michigan State 37, Maryland 15 (recap)
No. 14 Arizona 27, Washington 26 (recap)
No. 20 Wisconsin 59, No. 16 Nebraska 24 (recap)
Arkansas 17, No. 17 LSU 0 (recap)
Northwestern 43, No. 18 Notre Dame 40 (OT) (recap)
Virginia Tech 17, No. 21 Duke 16 (recap)
No. 22 Georgia Tech 28, No. 19 Clemson 6 (recap)
No. 23 Utah 20, Stanford 17 (2OT) (recap)
Missouri 34, No. 24 Texas A&M 27 (recap)
Air Force 45, Nevada 38 (OT) (recap)
Appalachian State 37, Arkansas State 32 (recap)
Boise State 38, San Diego State 29 (recap)
BYU 42, UNLV 23 (recap)
Central Michigan 34, Miami (OH) 27 (recap)
Florida International 38, Middle Tennessee 28 (recap)
Hawaii 13, San Jose State 0
Iowa 30, Illinois 14 (recap)
Louisiana-Lafayette 34, Louisiana-Monroe 27 (recap)
Marshall 41, Rice 14 (recap)
Memphis 38, Tulane 7 (recap)
Navy 52, Georgia Southern 19 (recap)
North Carolina 40, Pittsburgh 35 (recap)
North Carolina State 42, Wake Forest 13 (recap)
Oklahoma 42, Texas Tech 30 (recap)
Penn State 30, Temple 13 (recap)
Rutgers 45, Indiana 23
South Alabama 24, Texas State 20 (recap)
South Carolina 23, Florida 20 (OT) (recap)
South Florida 14, SMU 13 (recap)
Tennessee 50, Kentucky 16 (recap)
Texas 28, Oklahoma State 7 (recap)
Troy 34, Idaho 17
Utah State 28, New Mexico 21 (recap)
UTEP 35, North Texas 17 (recap)
Western Kentucky 52, Army 24 (recap)
Western Michigan 51, Eastern Michigan 7 (recap)
Bowling Green 30, Kent State 20 (recap)
Buffalo 55, Akron 24 (recap)
Cincinnati 54, East Carolina 46 (recap)
Massachusetts 24, Ball State 10 (recap)
Northern Illinois 27, Toledo 24 (recap)
UCF 31, Tulsa 7 (recap)
USC 38, California 30 (recap)
UTSA 12, Southern Miss 10 (recap)