Auburn Football: Tigers 3rd in Initial College Football Playoff Rankings


Oct 25, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Jordan Hare Stadium. Auburn won 42-35. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s In? Auburn, for now.

But the Tigers will need to win to stay there – and there’s a lot of football yet to be played.

After months of waiting, and with another six weeks ahead of us, we now have an official top four in the College Football Playoff rankings. The Auburn football team was ranked third, followed by Saturday’s opponent – the Ole Miss Rebels.

Mississippi State and Florida State were no surprise. The Bulldogs and Seminoles are the only two undefeated teams from Power 5 conferences and the committee rightly placed them first and second, respectively. From there, however, there was a lot of speculation as to who would make the cut.

Over the past few days there has been a lot of chatter about ESPN’s supposed SEC bias, but did we really expect to see three of the top four teams selected by the playoff committee to hail from the SEC? No Oregon, Notre Dame, Michigan State or TCU? Well, that’s what we’ve got now. But, it’s not likely to stay that way.

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Asked about the rationale behind the committee’s decisions, selection committee chair Jeff Long – who is also the athletic director at Arkansas, shared some insight.

I think it’s important for me to point out, we really don’t look at is as a conference,” Long said. “We look at the games that Kansas State has played; they played an excellent game at home in a close loss to Auburn and then the Oklahoma win was important for them. So again, we don’t analyze it by conference. We look at those teams and evaluate the teams they played and the success they had, or the failures they had.”

Auburn’s resume is solid. The Tigers’ only loss came at the hands of MSU in Starkville and they picked up a big non-conference win against Kansas State in Manhattan. Of course, to stay in the mix, Gus Malzahn’s squad must navigate one of the toughest remaining schedules in the nation. After the Tigers travel to Oxford, they’ll host Texas A&M, and play Georgia and Alabama on the road with a senior day game against Samford mixed between the two big rivalry games.

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  • Ole Miss is in a similar predicament to Auburn. The Rebels would have been at least No. 3 had they beaten LSU last week, but an earlier win over Alabama was impressive enough to land a spot in the top four – and to give the SEC 75% of the initial semifinalists. With Auburn and Mississippi State still ahead, the Rebels will have plenty of opportunities to prove worthy of their high initial ranking. Or not.

    “Well as you would expect, there is a lot of discussion about head-to-head,” Long said. “But you have to remember that head-to-head is only one of the criteria we’re using. We’re also using how those teams performed with the other teams they played on their schedules. So head-to-head is important, but it’s not the only factor obviously.”

    Alabama is currently on the outside looking in, but they too will play multiple marquee opponents and can play their way into the final four. The same goes for Georgia, who was ranked 11th by the committee. Essentially, if you’re an SEC team it’s simple. Win all of your games, and you’ll be in. Lose, and you’ll likely be out.

    Because of the way things shook out tonight, next week’s standings are essentially guaranteed to change because the Tigers and Rebels will play in an elimination game of sorts Saturday in Oxford. Either Auburn or Ole Miss will be handed a second loss of the season, creating a space for Oregon, Alabama or another team to break into the top four.

    Next: Gus Malzahn: We Expect to Win Championships

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