Oct 29, 2014 04:19 PM EDT
Unlike any other college football poll, the College Football Playoff's (CFP) weekly rankings got started when the season is beyond half over.
As expected, Mississippi State wound up on top, but two of the Bulldogs' SEC West counterparts occupied the four playoff slots. With Florida State occupying the second spot, Auburn and Ole miss come third and fourth with Alabama looming at sixth.
The SEC is college football's most competitive conference, so any team in the conference has strength of schedule on their side. However, that also means the SEC teams in the conversation for the CFP have the most to lose.
This Saturday night, Ole Miss will visit Auburn in a game televised nationally on ESPN, meaning the CFP's top four is likely to have an open place. With a week off, that slot may not go to Alabama or Michigan State, but could go to either TCU or Oregon.
Both teams boast explosive offenses, but have enjoyed a relatively light schedule and are playing a tough conference game this weekend.
Still, there are six more rankings due from the CFP selection committee and every week teams face the possibility of an upset. Perhaps no conference is more accustomed to that fact than the SEC. In fact, Mississippi State and Ole Miss may be in their current positions because of significant upsets they pulled off this season.
The winner of the SEC is bound to have a spot in the CFP, but what about the runner-up? Could two SEC West teams make the final four? Several key matchups remain to determine just that, such as the Iron Bowl game between Auburn and Alabama, or the Mississippi State - Ole Miss game the same day, Nov. 29.
"We debated, we reviewed facts and statistics, and we used our judgment," selection committee chairman Jeff Long said in a press release. "There are 18 one-loss teams in the FBS and the differences between many of these teams are slight. The bottom line is it's early, it's close and it's going to change."
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