SEC Week 10 predictions

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
9:00
AM ET
After everyone agreed on all of the picks last week (probably the last time we all doubt Les Miles in Death Valley at night), we're back with some differences of opinion. The headliner is obviously Ole Miss-Auburn, but there are several other games worth watching closely, including Florida-Georgia, with Will Muschamp trying to save his job. Let's get on with the picks.

Why Georgia wins big: Even without Todd Gurley lining up for Georgia, the Bulldogs still have an absolute stud in freshman Nick Chubb. In two games as a starter, Chubb has rushed for 345 yards and three touchdowns. The kid just tosses people around out there and certainly has a little Gurley in him. Florida is starting the Treon Harris era at quarterback, but the offense has been lousy for the better part of the season, while Georgia's defense is on a roll. It'll be tight early, but Georgia pounds away in the second half. Georgia 28, Florida 14 -- Edward Aschoff

How Florida keeps it close: This is Harris' game at quarterback, and he certainly provides more of a spark than Jeff Driskel. If Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor can run the football and negate some of the pressure from Georgia's talented pass-rushers, Florida could have some success moving the football. If they can even out the time of possession battle, you'll see a much more effective defense from the Gators. Georgia 21, Florida 13 -- Alex Scarborough

Why Kentucky wins: Missouri just can't seem to get it together. Just look at last weekend's game against Vanderbilt. Sure, the Tigers won, but not convincingly. And Kentucky is no Vanderbilt. The Wildcats gave Mississippi State a run for its money and beat South Carolina a few weeks ago. With a true playmaker at quarterback and a better-than-expected defense, Kentucky will give Missouri fits on both sides of the ball and win on the road. Kentucky 30, Missouri 20 -- Alex Scarborough

Why Missouri wins: Ever since a 34-0 beatdown at the hands of Georgia, the Tigers have looked shaky, especially on offense. But things are gradually getting better as quarterback Maty Mauk re-learns how to take care of the ball. This game offers the improving Wildcats a plum opportunity to show they can win conference games. But look for the home team to squeeze out a hard-fought victory. Missouri 26, Kentucky 23 -- Jeff Barlis

Why Ole Miss wins: The Rebels were injected with some playoff hope after the first batch of College Football Playoff rankings were announced. That should energize a team that lost an ugly one at LSU. Bo Wallace has to regroup, and he has to follow what his coaches tell him. The Rebels haven't had a consistent running game all season, but Auburn's pass defense ranks 75th nationally, and that should help Wallace regroup after a bad showing in Baton Rouge. Watching Ole Miss' defense try to tackle Auburn's running game might be the highlight of the day. A late turnover will seal it for the Rebels. Ole Miss 31, Auburn 28 -- Edward Aschoff

Why Auburn wins: Ole Miss' sideline was like a M*A*S*H unit last week against LSU, with multiple key players leaving with injuries. Even if most of those guys play Saturday -- and it looks like they will -- the Rebels aren't going to be at 100 percent against arguably the best offense they'll face all season. If Wallace doesn't play better than he did a week ago, Auburn might win easily. Ole Miss' quarterback is the X factor here, and I suspect he'll fare well against Auburn's mediocre defense at home, but the Tigers have way more firepower at their disposal right now. Auburn 31, Ole Miss 24 -- David Ching

Why Mississippi State wins big: Playing its first game with the No. 1 ranking, Mississippi State came out tight against Kentucky. Dan Mullen even admitted that. Look for the Bulldogs to play more relaxed at home Saturday in front of the familiar sound of cowbells clanging. They’re the No. 1 team in the country, and Dak Prescott, Josh Robinson and the defense will prove it against the Razorbacks. Mississippi State 35, Arkansas 14 -- Greg Ostendorf

How Arkansas keeps it close: It should be a triumphant return to Davis Wade Stadium for the nation's No. 1 team, but things aren't perfect for the Bulldogs. Kentucky's offense exposed some issues with the MSU secondary. While Arkansas doesn't have the same caliber of passing attack, the Hogs do have a stable of talented runners, a veteran quarterback and two good tight ends. Mississippi State 37, Arkansas 26 -- Jeff Barlis

More unanimous picks:

Texas A&M over UL Monroe: The big storyline will be who starts at quarterback for Texas A&M, Kenny Hill or Kyle Allen? Either way, the Aggies should roll against a lesser opponent. Texas A&M 52, UL Monroe 14

South Carolina over Tennessee: Steve Spurrier won’t have to go for it on every fourth down against the Vols, but don’t be surprised if he still has a few tricks left up his sleeve. The Gamecocks have won three of the past four games in this series. South Carolina 35, Tennessee 24

Vanderbilt over Old Dominion: Vandy is looking for its third win of the season, but it won’t come easy against Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke and his 54 career touchdown passes. Vanderbilt 31, Old Dominion 28

Standings
Edward Aschoff: 64-11
Greg Ostendorf: 64-11
Jeff Barlis: 63-12
Chris Low: 63-12
David Ching: 62-13
Alex Scarborough: 61-14
Sam Khan Jr.: 57-18

SEC morning links

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
8:00
AM ET
1. The news broke Wednesday morning that Georgia running back Todd Gurley will miss two more games once the NCAA finally announced its ruling on his eligibility case. He received approximately $3,000 for autographed memorabilia and has been out of action since the Bulldogs' Oct. 11 game at Florida. A subject of ridicule on Twitter was that the NCAA also ordered Gurley to complete 40 hours of community service. But the biggest penalty is obviously that he'll miss Saturday's game against rival Florida and the following week's visit to Kentucky (plus the Mizzou and Arkansas games he already missed). Georgia coach Mark Richt said Gurley will finish his career “with honor” once he returns for the Nov. 15 Auburn game, but what will the Bulldogs do in the meantime? Florida expects the Bulldogs to hand off to Nick Chubb repeatedly, just as they did in the last two games. A college athlete's ability to profit off his or her name is a hot topic these days, with writers like esteemed colleague Chris Low opining that changes are in order. Even the attorney for Bryan Allen, the memorabilia dealer who turned in Gurley, believes that should be the case.

2. Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian echoed Volunteers coach Butch Jones' prediction that senior quarterback Justin Worley will not be available Saturday against South Carolina. Maybe that won't be such a bad outcome. Sophomore Josh Dobbs offered reason to believe he might be the Vols' quarterback of the future with a strong performance off the bench last Saturday against Alabama. But the Crimson Tide had not prepared for the youngster. South Carolina will have the entire week. He might be the X-factor in Saturday's game at Columbia. Or for the superstitious Gamecocks among us, maybe it will be South Carolina's uniforms. South Carolina will wear black jerseys and black pants on Saturday for the first time since losing 24-14 to Florida in 2009.

3. Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC) is clearly the favorite to win the SEC East, but Missouri (6-2, 3-1) can still make some noise if the Bulldogs fall into any sort of slump. The Tigers haven't played particularly well lately, but they have only one conference loss as Kentucky (5-3, 2-3) prepares to visit on Saturday. Both teams will be looking to get back on track for the stretch run. Perhaps Mizzou quarterback Maty Mauk found his stride last week against Vanderbilt after several rocky games in a row. Meanwhile, Kentucky needs just one more win to achieve bowl eligibility, but it hasn't won a true road game since the 2010 opener. Not the greatest sign, particularly since its previously productive running game has underperformed lately and coaches are questioning whether they should use fewer backs in the regular rotation.

Around the SEC

" The State asks how South Carolina's disappointing season might impact its 2015 recruiting class.

" Formerly suspended safety Jermaine Whitehead does not appear close to returning to Auburn's starting lineup.

" Derrick Henry is leading an unusually thin group of Alabama running backs this week in practice with an open date ahead.

" LSU is focused on cleaning up its mistakes from last Saturday's Ole Miss game with Alabama ahead next weekend.

" John Kadlec, better known as “Mr. Mizzou” after serving the school as an athlete, coach, administrator and broadcaster, died Wednesday at age 86.

Tweets of the day

video

Alabama DB Landon Collins joined David Greene in the SEC Film Room to review plays.

Impact Performance Winner

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
7:00
PM ET


video

Alabama WR Amari Cooper is the winner of the Capital One Cup Impact Performance of the Week after reeling in nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns against Tennessee.
video

ESPN Insider Brad Edwards gives his thoughts on the first set of College Football Playoff rankings.

Rankings Winners And Losers

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
12:11
PM ET


video

Now that the first College Football Rankings have been made official, Brad Edwards looks at who were some of the winners and losers.
video

Brad Edwards and Antonietta Collins react to the College Football Playoff rankings that were released on Tuesday night.
It’s easy to look at Amari Cooper and be dismissive of his chances to win the Heisman Trophy.

First of all, he’s a receiver, meaning he’s reliant on someone else to get him the football, unlike, say, a quarterback or running back.

Secondly, he’s a receiver, meaning there hasn’t been a player at the position to win the award in more than two decades.

[+] EnlargeAmari Cooper
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAmari Cooper might not get as many touches as a QB or RB, but what he does with the touches he does get is unmatched.
Lastly, he’s a receiver and nothing more, meaning the only two receivers to ever hoist the trophy, Desmond Howard and Tim Brown, both doubled as return men.

See where we’re going with this? The odds are stacked against Cooper.

So we should just throw in the towel and pin the SEC’s hopes of claiming the Heisman on Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott, right?

Of course not.

Cooper doesn’t have a single first- or second-place vote in the most recent ESPN Experts’ Poll, and that’s surprising. If the Heisman Trophy is meant to recognize “the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity,” then Alabama’s junior receiver certainly applies. He’s never been in trouble with the law, plays through pain, and is one of the most dominant players in college football, regardless of position.

Yes, as a receiver he’s reliant on the quarterback to get him the football, but if you watch him play on a consistent basis then you know how many of his yards are picked up after the catch. His 1,146 yards from scrimmage ranks 11th nationally. There are 10 running backs ahead of him, and his yards per play (15.28) dwarfs all of them. Think of it this way: He has 75 total touches, compared to Melvin Gordon’s 162 or Ameer Abdullah’s 193. Even with so few opportunities, no one in college football has more plays of 20-plus yards than Cooper’s 19.

If they’d let him, Cooper would return kicks and punts and add to his overall numbers. While coach Nick Saban said that Cooper would be “the first guy” to volunteer to do so, he doesn’t want to risk injury to his best player. Additionally, Saban wants to spread around opportunities to guys such as Cyrus Jones and Christion Jones, who are capable of making plays on special teams.

While it’s hard to argue that anyone effects the outcome of the game as much as a quarterback, Cooper’s impact goes beyond the typical receiver. He’s been targeted 96 times this season, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of all of Alabama's pass attempts. He’s caught 19 passes on third down, which is more than every other Alabama receiver combined.

In short, Cooper is Alabama's offense. It's hard to imagine where Blake Sims would be without him.

Balance? Who needs balance when you have No. 9 to throw the ball to?

“You know that's kind of like saying you get 26 outs in the game throwing fastballs, so you should throw a changeup and then the guy hits it out of the park. I mean, should you play to your strengths or not?” Saban told reporters after Alabama beat Tennessee, 34-20, on Saturday. “Now, we have other good players ... but as long as No. 9 is getting open and as long as we're throwing him the ball, I don't think we should tell the quarterback, don't throw it to him."

Said Butch Jones, who watched his defense allow Cooper an Alabama-record 224 yards: “They do different things with him, but he runs after the catch, makes every catch. He's an elite player -- very deserving to be spoken about in the Heisman Trophy race. I have a lot of respect for him as a competitor."

But does respect equal a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony? Only time will tell.

But so long as Cooper keeps posting eye-popping numbers, his name should be in the conversation. Even if he's a receiver.
In the 100 days leading up to signing day 2015, RecruitingNation will be looking back at our ESPN recruiting rankings from 2006 to the present and counting down the best player of the past 10 years at each ranking position, No. 100 to No. 1.

C.J. Mosley, No. 99 in the 2010 class.

Mosley was one of the big Mobile-area recruiting battles between Alabama and Auburn that helped Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide to back-to-back BCS National Championships. While Mosley officially visited Auburn and gave the Tigers a chance, he grew up an Alabama fan and was a near lock to head to Tuscaloosa. Mosley was a member of the Crimson Tide’s No. 3-ranked recruiting class that included 2013 top 10 NFL draft pick DeMarcus “Dee” Milliner, Adrian Hubbard and DeQuan Menzie. Current members of the Crimson Tide team in Mosley’s class are quarterback Blake Sims, fullback Jalston Fowler, offensive lineman Austin Shepherd, safety Jarrick Williams and receiver DeAndrew White, among others.

Mosley appeared in 51 games in four season in Tuscaloosa, including 29 starts. He was a member of the Alabama 2011 and 2012 BCS National Championship team, as well as being a two-time All-American in 2012 and 2013. He was also the SEC defensive player of the year in 2013 and took home the prestigious Butkus Award in 2013, joining Derrick Thomas and Rolando McClain as the winners from the University of Alabama. Mosley finished his career at Alabama with 319 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, six sacks and five interceptions.

Honorable mention: Knowshon Moreno. Moreno came out of New Jersey as one of the most highly sought running backs in the 2006 class. After three seasons at Georgia, including 2,734 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns and two first-team All-SEC selections, Moreno declared for the 2009 NFL draft and was selected No. 12 overall.

CFP rankings: The case for No. 5

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
11:56
AM ET
video

The College Football Playoff selection committee should engineer a commercial deal with the upcoming "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" movie so it can create this scene: A cacophonous room overflowing with complaining fans of every hue and region -- "Three from the SEC!" "Notre Dame is too low!" "Overrated!" "Bias!" -- but then Hulk, Thor and Iron Man zoom down from the sky, smashing through the whiners and leaving a gaping, silent void.

After pregnant silence: "Shut up," grunts Hulk. "And win."

For that is the only meaningful takeaway from the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings from the selection committee. Folks, it's not even November.

Fourteen of the 16 one-loss teams from Power 5 conferences have another one-loss team left on their schedules, so lots of second losses will be handed out no matter what. Worried about SEC world domination? There are four remaining regular-season matchups between top-six teams -- all involving SEC West teams -- including No. 3 Auburn at No. 4 Ole Miss on Saturday (7 p.m. ET on ESPN). In the vaunted SEC West, there's a good chance -- 43 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Info -- that the division champion will have at least two losses.

Ergo, lots of football left. Said committee chair Jeff Long: "The bottom line is it's early, it's close, and it's going to change as we move forward."

In fact, with Auburn and Ole Miss playing Saturday, it's going to change in a notable way next week, which makes our task today somewhat important: The case for No. 5. As in: Who moves into the joyous, warming glow of the top four next week?

You could go with a number of teams as candidates, particularly if you projected forward, but we're going to focus on the next three in the rankings as the most likely to move up next Tuesday: No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Alabama and No. 7 TCU, a troika of strong one-loss teams.


(Read full post)


SEC playoff tracker: Oct. 29

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
9:00
AM ET
The College Football Playoff committee has spoken, and there are four teams from the SEC West in the top six, including three in the top four. Who says the SEC isn’t getting two teams in the playoff? There’s still plenty of football to be played, though. For now, here’s a look at where each SEC playoff contenders stands heading into Week 10.

Mississippi State
Record: 7-0 (4-0)
Rank: No. 1
Next big obstacle: Nov. 15 at Alabama

Reason for optimism: Entering Saturday’s game with Arkansas, Mississippi State ranks first nationally in both strength of record (which measures the difficulty in achieving its record based on its strength of schedule) and game control (which gauges its command of games from beginning to end) according to ESPN Stats & Information. In other words, the Bulldogs have earned their No. 1 national ranking.

Cause for concern: There are still two top-10 opponents left on the schedule, and the Bulldogs will face both of them on the road. On Nov. 15, they’ll visit Alabama (State is 0-2 in Tuscaloosa under Dan Mullen and has won there just twice since 1957) and end the regular season with a trip to Ole Miss (the home team in the Egg Bowl is 12-2 in the 2000s).

Who they’ll be rooting for this week: Auburn at Ole Miss

-- David Ching

Auburn
Record: 6-1 (3-1)
Rank: No. 3
Next big obstacle: Nov. 1 at No. 4 Ole Miss

Reason for optimism: How can Auburn not be happy? At No. 3, the Tigers are the top-ranked one-loss team according to the committee. They’re ahead of Oregon, TCU, Notre Dame and even in-state rival Alabama. On the field, they have to be happy with the way the offense looked this past weekend against South Carolina. Nick Marshall and Co. seem to be clicking again after playing their most complete game of the season.

Cause for concern: It was only one game, but the Auburn defense took a major step backward Saturday. The Tigers couldn’t get off the field at times, and they allowed South Carolina to throw for 416 yards and five touchdowns. Not to mention, the Tigers also have arguably the most treacherous road ahead among the playoff contenders.

Who they’ll be rooting for this week: Sure, it would be nice to see No. 1 or No. 2 go down, but Auburn should also pull for Kansas State to handle its business at home against Oklahoma State. That nonconference win looks better and better with each Wildcat victory.

-- Greg Ostendorf

Ole Miss
Record: 7-1 (4-1)
Rank: No. 4
Next big obstacle: Nov. 1 vs. No. 3 Auburn

Reason for optimism: Despite losing at LSU this past weekend, the Rebels aren’t out of the playoff race by any means. That shiny No. 4 ranking proves that the committee has been very impressed with what the Rebels have done to this point. Ole Miss also gets Auburn and Mississippi State at home, somewhat smoothing out the road to Atlanta.

Cause for concern: Well, that loss destroyed the chance at a perfect season, and we saw what happens when you couple an average running game with a quarterback who loses the mental edge with an opponent’s crowd. Bo Wallace was never in rhythm against LSU (just look at that ugly game-clinching interception) and the running game just wasn’t a threat.

Who they’re rooting for this week: Arkansas over Mississippi State

-- Edward Aschoff

Alabama
Record: 7-1 (4-1)
Rank: No. 6
Next big obstacle: Nov. 8 at No. 19 LSU

Reason for optimism: Given the way Alabama struggled in a loss at Ole Miss and a narrow win at Arkansas, there were questions about whether Lane Kiffin's offense could go on the road. But they were answered Saturday when the Tide went to Rocky Top and dominated Tennessee 34-20.

Cause for concern: If you want LSU, you want them early. You want the young, unsure team that lost to Mississippi State, not the confident, maturing bunch that upset Ole Miss. Alabama gets the latter, a team that now believes it can beat anyone, especially in Tiger Stadium.

Who they’ll be rooting for: The SEC will take care of itself, so in order to get two teams from the conference in -- and increase Bama's chances of making the playoff -- Tide fans should be hoping for Louisville to beat Florida State or Stanford to beat Oregon.

-- Alex Scarborough

Georgia
Record: 6-1 (4-1)
Rank: No. 11
Next big obstacle: Nov. 1 vs. Florida (in Jacksonville, Florida)

Reason for optimism: Find a true competitor in the East, and then maybe the Dawgs would have to look over their shoulders down the home stretch. There just isn’t a team right now that anyone thinks can seriously contend with the Dawgs in November. The defense is now on the same page with the offense, and that’s a great sign.

Cause for concern: We are still awaiting word on Todd Gurley. Nick Chubb has been great in his place, but you just have to wonder how much of a beating the true freshman can take down the stretch. Auburn awaits, and the Dawgs would still have to play -- and beat -- a behemoth in the West in Atlanta.

Who they’re rooting for this week: Kentucky over Missouri

-- Edward Aschoff

LSU
Record: 7-2 (3-2 SEC)
Rank: No. 19
Next big obstacle: Nov. 8 vs. Alabama

Reason for optimism: Look who’s back. Most of us thought we’d seen the last of LSU as a playoff contender when Auburn humiliated Les Miles’ club 41-7 on Oct. 4. But after winning three in a row, including one against Ole Miss on Saturday, the Tigers might not be out of it after all. They can truly state their case against Alabama next weekend.

Cause for concern: The Tigers haven’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard against better opponents. They turned it over and scored just 10 points gainst Ole Miss. Until it is more balanced on offense, LSU will lean heavily on its defense and running game and hope that’s enough to win. The results on that front have been mixed.

Who they’ll be rooting for this week: Ole Miss vs. Auburn, Arkansas at Mississippi State

-- David Ching

National links: Rankings madness 

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
8:30
AM ET
Now that we have had time to digest the first Top 25 from the College Football Playoff Committee, it is pretty obvious the group delivered on the promises it made before the process began.

Strength of schedule matters. Quality wins matter.

The AP and coaches poll do not.

One glance at the College Football Playoff Top 25 and the other rankings clearly illustrates the committee truly started with a clean slate.

There are several discrepancies that illustrate this point:

SEC morning links

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
8:00
AM ET
1. The initial College Football Playoff rankings came out on Tuesday night, and the "First Four" was all anyone could talk about, especially after the World Series Game 6 devolved into an old-fashioned Kansas City barbecue. With three teams in the top four, #SECbias was probably trending worldwide. Fans of other conferences were going berserk. Nevermind that voices of reason such as playoff chairman Jeff Long (full disclosure: he's also Arkansas' athletic director) said there's a lot of time for things to change. Heck, look no further than this week's schedule. Two of the top teams in the nation will play this week, as No. 3 Auburn visits No. 4 Ole Miss. Fans of other conferences can delight in knowing the SEC West will bludgeon itself throughout November. And as for No. 6 Alabama getting a so-called snub? Well, this sums up the Tide's plight:



2. As the AJC's Chip Towers said, "Gurley Watch" reached Day 19 on Tuesday and still no update on the Georgia running back's status for Saturday's big game against Florida. The Bulldogs are cautiously optimistic, as Todd Gurley continues to practice. Meanwhile, the Gators' defensive players say they are expecting, preparing and actually hoping to face the Heisman candidate on Saturday. Despite Florida's downward spiral in the past two seasons, the Gators say they're confident. The history of this bitter rivalry suggests the game is usually closely contested. At least one thing that's guaranteed is a good time at the ol' Cocktail Party. It's always cool to see the intermingling of red, black, orange and blue inside and outside the stadium. On Saturday, we'll see it on the field as well. Georgia is the home team, but both teams agreed to wear home jerseys in what should make for a neat visual.

3. Determined to snap its three-game losing streak, Texas A&M underwent a sweeping round of soul-searching during its bye week with a willingness to re-evaluate every position on the team. That includes the quarterback position, where sophomore starter Kenny Hill is now battling with freshman Kyle Allen with a decision to come on Thursday. It's a stunning turn of events for Hill, who started the season with a school-record 511 yards passing in the opener and has thrown for 2,649 yards in eight games. Allen actually went to offensive coordinator Jake Spavital's office to ask if the starting job was really up for grabs. Yes, he was told, this is really happening. The same could be said for the Aggies' tailspin, but at least the bye week came at a perfect time. A&M is still reeling from its last game, a 59-0 loss at Alabama. Saturday's home game against Louisiana-Monroe ought to do wonders in boosting some confidence in Aggieland. Especially for the QB, whoever he is.

Around the SEC

" Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott ditched his walking boot and practiced on Tuesday. He's not sure what all the fuss was about, saying: "I'm sure there's some boots Beyonce or somebody's worn before that people have made a big deal about."

" Ole Miss changed its play-calling terminology after a former intern left in the offseason to join the Auburn staff.

" Michigan native and current Tennessee coach Butch Jones swatted aside speculation that he could be a candidate to be the Wolverines' next coach.

" Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCrary will be the "lead dog" against Old Dominion, but coach Derek Mason also hopes Patton Robinette will play after being medically cleared last week from a concussion suffered on Sept. 20.

Tweet of the day

Film Room with Nick Saban

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
9:11
PM ET


video

The Alabama coach joined David Greene to review plays from Bama's win over UT
video

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- The suspense is over.

In what was a historic day for college football, the 12 members of the College Football Playoff’s selection committee have determined that three SEC West teams are among the top four in the country, along with undefeated defending national champ Florida State.

The committee’s top four was: 1. Mississippi State, 2. Florida State, 3. Auburn, 4. Ole Miss.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsFlorida State and Auburn in Pasadena worked pretty well last season, why not do it again in the College Football Playoff?
Here is what the College Football Playoff would look like right now if the season ended today:

Semifinal: Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss (Allstate Sugar Bowl)

Semifinal: Florida State vs. Auburn (Rose Bowl Game Presented By Northwestern Mutual)

That’s right, the committee just delivered Egg Bowl II and a rematch of the 2013 national championship. The Sugar Bowl looks like the perfect spot for the state championship, and why not have FSU and Auburn return to the scene of what was an instant classic to end the BCS era?

The displaced conference champions that aren’t playing in the semifinals are guaranteed spots in the other New Year’s Six bowls. Based on the committee’s rankings, ESPN.com is projecting No. 5 Oregon to win the Pac-12, No. 7 TCU to win the Big 12, and No. 8 Michigan State to win the Big Ten.

The Capital One Orange Bowl lost the ACC champion (FSU) so it gets the next highest-ranked ACC team, No. 21 Clemson. Then the Orange selects the next highest-ranked team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. That would pit Clemson against No. 6 Alabama.

Now here’s the rest, including the highest-ranked conference champion from the Group of 5, which would be No. 23 East Carolina:

Fiesta: No. 5 Oregon vs. No. 9 Kansas State

Cotton: No. 7 TCU vs. No. 8 Michigan State

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 10 Notre Dame vs. No. 23 East Carolina

Here’s the final look:

Dec. 31

12:30 p.m. ET – Peach Bowl – No. 10 Notre Dame vs. No. 23 East Carolina

4 p.m. ET - Fiesta Bowl – No. 5 Oregon vs. No. 9 Kansas State

8 p.m. ET - Orange Bowl – No. 21 Clemson vs. No. 6 Alabama

Jan. 1

12:30 p.m. ET – Cotton Bowl – No. 7 TCU vs. No. 8 Michigan State

5 p.m. ET – Rose Bowl – No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Auburn (Semi No. 1)

8:30 p.m. ET – Sugar Bowl – No. 1 Mississippi State vs. No. 4 Ole Miss (Semi No. 2)

Of the 18 one-loss teams left in the country, the committee decided Auburn was the best, and it showed it valued head-to-head competition by ranking Ole Miss ahead of Alabama, Auburn ahead of K-State, and Oregon over Michigan State. The Ducks were also ahead of Arizona, though, even though they lost to the Wildcats on their home turf. No. 7 TCU was also ranked ahead of No. 13 Baylor in spite of the loss to the Bears.

“Head-to-head is important,” committee chair Jeff Long said, “but it’s not the only factor, obviously.”

No. 10 Notre Dame had the biggest difference between the Associated Press rank, where it was No. 6, and the committee’s. Louisville was the only team not in the Associated Press Top 25 that was in the committee’s, replacing undefeated Marshall. That showed that the committee valued No. 23 East Carolina’s strength of schedule ahead of Marshall’s undefeated season.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Bama DB Landon Collins in the Film Room
Alabama DB Landon Collins joined David Greene in the SEC Film Room to review plays.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 11/1