Dispatch college football writer Todd Jones on Florida State: "The defending national champions are harder to kill than Rasputin, as the controversy-saturated Seminoles have shown in a 28-game winning streak."
Our writers take their weekly look at the top contenders for the College Football Playoff:Ray Stein, Dispatch sports editor
The top four
1. Oregon. If the Ducks were a motor vehicle rather than a football team, no doubt they would be traveling in top gear right now. Next up is the Pac-12 championship, and who awaits but Arizona, which handed Oregon its only loss, in early October. Will this be a cruise down Redemption Road, or do the Ducks grind the gears again?
2. Alabama. Say this for the Crimson Tide: This is no buttoned-down outfit winning with smothering defense and an offensive attack that makes Woody Hayes look like Chip Kelly. 'Bama is unafraid throw it and catch it, and Amari Cooper knows where to go once he gets it. And the D isn't bad, either.
3. Florida State. The day is coming when the bright light shines on college football's cockroaches and they have nowhere to hide. It's been that kind of season for the Seminoles, and bully to them for digging in and failing to surrender. But the can of Raid is coming, if not this weekend then in the semifinal.
4. Baylor. There is no Big 12 championship game, and thus very likely no Big 12 winner but co-champions if Baylor and TCU both win on Saturday. What's a playoff committee to do? Here's one guess -- and a hope -- that the head-to-head matchup means something. The Bears would get big props for beating K-State, anyway.
>> Ohio State football chat with Rob Oller, 1 p.m. Thursday
Arizona. Among the many doomsday scenarios out there -- as in, if some of the four one-loss teams lost their conference championship games -- no two-loss team would sit prettier than the Wildcats. RichRod's bunch would own two Duck pelts, which would make folks forget about both 'Zona defeats as well as two early-season escapes.
Ohio State. Can the playoff committee keep a team out of its top four because of an injury to a key player? You bet. Does that mean the Buckeyes will have to beat Wisconsin and be on their absolute best and most impressive behavior to woo their way in? Probably. But is that realistic, given all that's going on in the program right now?Rob Oller, Dispatch sports columnist
The top four
1. Alabama. In a season without a true dominating team, the Crimson Tide come closest to fitting that description.
2. Florida State. Those who want to knock the Noles for barely surviving so many close calls need to revisit history, circa 2002 Ohio State.
3. Oregon. If Marcus Mariota can stay healthy -- which is no given, considering what has happened to starting QBs at Ohio State and Baylor -- the Ducks are in good shape. Just don't see Arizona pulling an upset twice in one season.
4. TCU. Personally, I would have Baylor here, because the Bears won head-to-head against the Horned Frogs, but the committee will point to TCU's tougher -- barely -- schedule.
Missouri. If -- and it's a big "if" -- the Tigers can topple Alabama in the SEC title game, it might mean their playoff ticket gets punched. Even with two losses. Call it a bunch of baloney if you want, but the SEC remains too strong of a brand to bet against. Plus, if you beat No.1, you probably deserve a spot in the final four.
Ohio State. Yes, the Buckeyes can still impress the committee with a big win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, but at the moment OSU has slipped just behind TCU. Them's the (ankle) breaks.
>> Not following @buckeyextra on Twitter? Just move to MichiganTodd Jones, Dispatch college football writer
The top four
1. Alabama. Despite turnovers and a leaky defense, the Tide looked like nation's best team while scoring 28 consecutive points in a 55-44 win over rival Auburn.
2. Florida State. The defending national champions are harder to kill than Rasputin, as the controversy-saturated Seminoles have shown in a 28-game winning streak.
3. Oregon. Nike's favorite DayGlo offensive machine continues to roll behind quarterback Marcus Mariota, who appears to be the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.
4. TCU. The high-scoring Horned Frogs can boast about victories over Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Kansas State and Texas.
>> Predict Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
Baylor. The Bears have the same 10-1 record at TCU, and beat the Horned Frogs, but their overall body of work isn't quite as impressive as their Big 12 brethren.
Mississippi State. The Bulldogs will always have that glorious October, when they were the toast of the nation, but November proved too much for them to handle.Tim May, Dispatch OSU football beat writer
The top four
1. Oregon. From what I saw Auburn do the other night, the Ducks should roll up a lot of yards on Alabama, too, if they get to play in the final. Of course, that is if Oregon can do something this week it hasn't done in two years: beat Arizona.
2. Alabama. The Crimson Tide gave up more than 600 yards and trailed for a good while before finally pulling away from Auburn, which suddenly stopped playing offense and defense. Is Alabama good? Yes. Formidable? No way.
3. Florida State. The huffing and puffing you hear is from the defending national champion that keeps trying to prove -- the hard way, always the hard way -- it deserves a shot at a second straight title. It will get one if it can handle Georgia Tech in the ACC title game.
4. Ohio State or TCU. This is no copout, this is just the last chance I have to lay it out there before next week's real final-four revelation. If Ohio State, playing with sudden-starter Cardale Jones at quarterback, beats Wisconsin on Saturday night in the Big Ten title game, the Buckeyes deserve this spot. If not, TCU gets the nod if it, ahem, handles business against Iowa State.
Baylor. If the Bears can beat Kansas State, they are poised to step into the top four if Ohio State stumbles and if TCU has a ho-hum outing. Lot of "ifs," I know, especially for a team that's already beaten TCU. I just think TCU is slightly better, and so far the CFP committee has thought the same thing.
Everybody else. Barring wholesale chaos this weekend -- and it could happen -- this is a six-team field now. As expected from the beginning, this seasonlong, simmering stew has been reduced to the meat and potatoes.
The top four
1. Alabama. If the Crimson Tide beat Missouri, they should be the top seed. A loss means we're looking at no SEC teams in the playoff.
2. Oregon. Gets revenge game against Arizona, which beat Ducks in Eugene in October.
3. Florida State. Georgia Tech, with its triple-option offense, might be the team that finally makes Seminoles pay for all the close calls.
4. TCU. In by a nose right now but will get little reward for beating Iowa State. Could Buckeyes or Baylor surpass Horned Frogs?
Arizona. Could beating Oregon twice be enough to put RichRod in CFP if others falter?
Mississippi State. Loss to Ole Miss means their Egg cracked.