Top 10 College Football Playoff Contenders

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Over the next four to six weeks, any questions surrounding the inaugural College Football Playoff will be answered. This past weekend, Ole Miss lost its second game of the 2014 season, and with three undefeated and 12 one-loss teams still in the CFP top 25, the Rebels are now virtually eliminated from College Football Playoff contention. In fact, the SEC West is so deep that there is a chance that they could all knock each other out of CFP contention.

Several of the teams around the country that are still in contention have games against each other over the next month, and there is the possibility that conference championship games will serve as playoff games, as well. As we enter the final stretch of the 2014 college football regular season, here is a synopsis of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

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1.  Florida State (8-0) 

Remaining schedule:

  • Virginia (4-5)
  • At Miami (Fla.) (6-3)
  • Boston College (6-3)
  • Florida (4-3)

The Seminoles survived a scare from Louisville this past Thursday, scoring 21 fourth-quarter points to pull out a 42-31 win. The combined record for Florida State’s remaining opponents is a modest 20-14, and as it looks now, they will have a matchup with No. 22 Duke (7-1) in the ACC Championship game. It would be a complete shocker if Florida State loses any of its remaining regular-season games, and with all due respect to Duke, the ‘Noles shouldn’t have any problems winning the ACC Championship game, either.

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2.  Oregon (8-1) 

Remaining schedule:

  • At No. 20 Utah (6-2)
  • Colorado (2-7)
  • At Oregon State (4-4)

The Ducks are currently ranked fifth in the CFP rankings, but, outside of Florida State, they have a much easier schedule to close out their season than the teams ranked ahead of them. If they finish out the season with three wins as expected, they will likely face No. 11 Arizona State (7-1) in the Pac-12 Championship game. If the Ducks win out, there is really no way the selection committee can keep Oregon out of the Playoff.

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3.  Mississippi State (8-0)

Remaining schedule:

  • UT Martin (5-5)
  • At No. 4 Alabama (7-1)
  • Vanderbilt (3-6)
  • At No. 12 Ole Miss (7-2)

Mississippi State is currently the top-ranked team in the CFP rankings and can probably afford to lose one of its remaining games and still make the College Football Playoff. If the team is able to beat No. 4 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on November 15, it will be likely bound for the SEC title game and the College Football Playoff. If the Bulldogs stumble against Alabama, then the 2014 version of the Egg Bowl will likely decide Mississippi State’s Playoff fate.

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4.  TCU (7-1)

Remaining schedule:

  • No. 9 Kansas State (7-1)
  • At Kansas (2-6)
  • At Texas (4-5)
  • Iowa State (2-6)

TCU is currently ranked sixth in the CFP poll. If the Horned Frogs can get by ninth-ranked Kansas State at home this weekend, they will likely be headed to the inaugural College Football Playoff.

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5.  Alabama (7-1)

Remaining schedule:

  • At No. 14 LSU (7-2)
  • No. 1 Mississippi State (8-0)
  • Carolina (6-3)
  • No. 3 Auburn (7-1)

The Crimson Tide is currently ranked fourth in the CFP poll, but the team has a brutally difficult schedule remaining in 2014. Alabama will likely have to win the rest of its games to have a chance at making the CFP, which will be a difficult task, but the team is experienced enough and talented enough to pull off. If Alabama can get past No. 1 Mississippi State, the Iron Bowl matchup against third-ranked Auburn in the final week of the regular season will likely be for a spot in the CFP.

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6.  Auburn (7-1)

Remaining schedule:

  • Texas A&M (6-3)
  • At No. 17 Georgia (6-2)
  • Samford (5-3)
  • At No. 4 Alabama (7-1)

Auburn is currently ranked third in the CFP poll, and it has a great chance to go into its Iron Bowl game against Alabama with a 10-1 record. The SEC West is ridiculously tough in 2014 — so tough that six of the seven teams in the division are already bowl eligible — which means that whoever can survive that division with only one loss will likely be CFP-bound. The main question surrounding the trio of SEC West CFP contenders likely comes down to whether the selection committee believes a one- or two-loss SEC West team that doesn’t win the division title is more worthy of a Playoff spot than a one-loss conference champion.

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7.  Michigan State (7-1)

Remaining schedule:

  • No. 16 Ohio State (7-1)
  • At Maryland (6-3)
  • Rutgers (5-4)
  • At Penn State (4-4)

The Spartans have a tough game this weekend against No. 16 Ohio State, which is likely to be their last true test before the Big Ten Championship game. There is a chance they will match up with a one-loss Nebraska team in the Big Ten title game, which could be a conference title matchup that may, in all reality, be a playoff game in itself, with the winner earning a spot in the CFP.

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8. Notre Dame (7-1)

Remaining schedule:

  • At No. 11 Arizona State (7-1)
  • Northwestern (3-5)
  • Louisville (6-3)
  • At USC (6-3)

The eighth-ranked Fighting Irish control their own CFP destiny, but face difficult opponents in three of their final four games. If they end the season with only one loss — a narrow loss to No. 2 Florida State — they will have a very strong case, and it would be hard to keep them out of the CFP.

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9. Baylor (7-1)

Remaining schedule:

  • At No. 16 Oklahoma (6-2)
  • Oklahoma State (5-4)
  • Texas Tech (3-6)
  • No. 9 Kansas State (7-1)

Baylor, like their Big 12 counterpart Kansas State, is a CFP contender, but they are a bit of a long shot at this point. The Bears get the nod over K-State at this point due to a more favorable schedule. Baylor does hold the Big 12 tiebreaker over TCU, but will have to win out and beat three of the Big 12’s best teams to have a chance at making the CFP.

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10. Nebraska (8-1)

Remaining schedule:

  • At Wisconsin (6-2)
  • Minnesota (6-2)
  • At Iowa (6-2)

The Cornhuskers have three games left, and all are very winnable. If they prevail, they will likely face Michigan State for the Big Ten Championship. On paper, that all looks extremely doable. However, if Nebraska is without Heisman Trophy candidate Ameer Abdullah (sprained MCL) for an extended period of time, it will greatly hurt the team’s chances in its upcoming games, all of which are must-wins for the ‘Huskers to have a chance at making the CFP.