Power Four: Week 4

After four weeks the college football playoff is in serious trouble. Since its advent all the way back in 2013, college football braintrusts, pundits, analytic types and Kirk Herbstreit have been wondering how people would respond if the SEC did (or did not) get two teams into the Final Four. There was an assumption that the SEC East was going to tilt the balance of SEC power closer to level than it has been the past ten years, thus clearing a potential path for both participants in the SEC Championship to make the Final Four regardless of the result. 

Enter Mississippi State. By taking down LSU in Death Valley--at night--they have created a good old-fashioned logjam atop the SEC West. LSU, which is LSU, can now make a claim for no better than fourth--in the SEC West (think about that!). What happens if they win out and Mississippi State goes undefeated? What if Alabama wins out, leaving Mississippi State with only one loss? What if Auburn wins out, leaving Alabama and Mississippi State with only one loss? See what I'm driving at? Good, because I hate typing that many questions in a row, especially hypothetical ones. The point is, there is a very real possibility that three (!) SEC West teams, when the regular season ends, will have legitimate claims to one of the four playoff spots. So, good luck with that, Selection Committee. Good luck telling one-loss Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State or LSU that, sorry, because of the fake constraint of geography you don't have the chance to play for a national title because, like Little League Baseball, we have to include everybody. 

This should make for a good Power Four, huh? 

1. Alabama

Blake Sims, I like Blake Sims. Especially when you give him an Amari Cooper, a TJ Yeldon, a Derrick Henry and a Kenyan Drake. Now, to be fair, I'm not going to get too excited because Florida is coached by a cartoon character, but that cartoon character does have some good athletes on defense. Let me put it like this: Alabama's ceiling just got a lot higher, and if you're affiliated with a football program outside Tuscaloosa, you're probably doing one of these right now:


2. Auburn

This week's winner of Most Tenuous Position on This List, Auburn, on a Thursday night, went into Manhattan, faced down adversity, and found a way to win. K-State is never an easy out, especially in the Little Apple. Their run game stymied, Auburn took to the air and won a game I honestly didn't think they'd be capable of winning. This is much more impressive to me than watching a team like Florida State drop deuce after deuce on the field, only to win because Clemson is so Clemson. It's more impressive than watching Alabama overcome multiple self-inflicted wounds to put away a Florida team bereft of discipline, heart and offense. Auburn adapted, and they made a believer out of me. And her: 

War Eagle, man. 

3. Mississippi State

B-B-But, handsome, the AP and the TV people don't have them that high. This can't possibly be right. No. No, no. You're way off. 

Shhh. The AP currently has the following teams, among others, ranked ahead of Mississippi State: Baylor (who has beaten no one), South Carolina (I mean), Georgia (lost to South Carolina), UCLA (don't even--Jim Mora--playoffs? Playoffs? Playoffs?), and Ole Miss. Make a case that a single one of those teams (or any of the others ranked ahead of them) is more deserving of a spot in the Final Four. Seriously, please do it. Use the comments section if you'd like. I'll wait here. The truth is that rankings this early in the season should be much more pliable. Preseason rankings should be completely rewritten after Week 1. Then again after Week 2. There is absolutely zero logic to clinging so desperately to the way these teams are ranked before a game is even played, and even less logic to give those rankings so much authority as the season reveals its true identity. MSU went to LSU and won at night. That means something to me, and what means more is the way they won. Yeah, LSU came back, but the Bulldogs dominated this game on both sides of the ball. Read my words and hear my voice: This team isn't going away. 

4. Oregon

The Ducks were a blown pass interference call away from being in real trouble. They showed neither an interest nor an ability to stop Wazzou on Saturday night in a game which no one saw because it started 10PM. They're still firmly in my Power Four until they lose, but after Saturday that loss looks more imminent with each passing week. 

I'll be back tonight with your favorite Power Feature, Little Bronzie Watch, before starting to look at Kentucky-Vandy on Wednesday. 

See also: College Football Week 4: What We Learned