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Computer Projects Final 4;
Playoff Committee's First Rankings Coming Tuesday Night

Auburn-Ole Miss headlines Week 10

by Dave Congrove
October 27, 2014

How did we get here already? It's the tenth week of the college football season and the much-anticipated release of the first-ever rankings from the College Football Playoff Committee will be released Tuesday night.

In advance of some key games this week, we finally get to see how the committee thinks, and compare their conclusions to the traditional polls and computer rankings.

What we shouldn't do is blow a gasket over the committee's first iteration. A plethora of games, and big matchups, remain. The regular season, and four key conference championship games still lie ahead.

That said, there are questions which will be answered. Are the committee's ranking a mirror image of the polls, slightly different, or drastically unique? Beyond that, I can't get myself all worked up about it.

For grins and giggles, otherwise known as 'griggles', I consulted my Congrove Computer Rankings to see how the rest of the season would play out.

Here's the projected final 4:
1. Florida State (13-0), beats Duke (11-2) in ACC Championship game.
2. Mississippi (12-1), beats Georgia (11-2) in SEC Championship game.
3. Ohio State (12-1), beats Nebraska (11-2) in Big Ten Championship game.
4. Oregon (12-1), beats Arizona (10-3) in PAC-12 Championship game.
The fourth seed is a virtual tie between Alabama (11-1, but no division title), TCU (11-1, Big 12 champ), and Oregon.

Here are the other projected conference winners:
American - UCF (10-2)
CUSA - Marshall (13-0), beats Louisiana Tech (8-5) in CUSA Championship game.
Independents - Notre Dame (10-2), loses to USC on November 29
MAC - Toledo (9-4), beats Bowling Green (8-5) in MAC Championship game.
MWC - Boise State (11-2), beats Nevada (9-4) in MWC Championship game.
Sun Belt - Louisiana-Lafayette (9-3). Win over Arkansas State served as de facto championship game.

This exercise also indicated that 80 teams would qualify for the postseason to barely cover all of the available slots.

The big game this week is Auburn at Ole Miss. A second consecutive Ole Miss loss would slide the Rebels out of the above projections and almost certainly inject the Tigers into the final 4. The computer is taking Ole Miss by a scant 1.74 points.

There are other games this week that could obviously tilt the balance of power. For instance, top-ranked FSU (7-0) is only getting a 7.42-point projected margin at Louisville (6-2) on Thursday. On Saturday, 10th-ranked Oregon (7-1) is a shaky 4.88-point home pick over Stanford (5-3), 13th-ranked TCU (6-1) is only favored by 5.59 at surprising West Virginia (6-2), 17th-ranked Arizona (6-1) is a 4.53-point underdog at 24th-ranked UCLA (6-2), and 18th-ranked Arizona State (6-1) is a slim 6.82-point pick at home over 23rd-ranked Utah (6-1).

Here's the schedule for every team in the computer's top 25, and its projected results:
1 - Florida State: by 7.42 at Louisville
2 - Mississippi State: by 14.37 over Arkansas
3 - Ohio State: by 30.17 over Illinois
4 - Auburn: Underdog by 1.74 at No. 5 Mississippi
5 - Mississippi: by 1.74 over No. 4 Auburn
6 - Marshall: Idle
7 - Georgia: by 18.49 over Florida
8 - Alabama: Idle
9 - Michigan State: Idle
10 - Oregon: by 4.88 over Stanford
11 - Notre Dame: by 12.77 over Navy at Landover, MD
12 - Baylor: by 28.37 over Kansas
13 - TCU: by 5.59 at West Virginia
14 - Nebraska: by 24.37 over Purdue
15 - Kansas State: by 11.19 over Oklahoma State
16 - Duke: by 8.29 at Pittsburgh
17 - Arizona: Underdog by 4.53 at No. 24 UCLA
18 - Arizona State: by 6.82 over No. 23 Utah
19 - Oklahoma: by 18.30 at Iowa State
20 - LSU: Idle
21 - Clemson: Idle
22 - East Carolina: by 8.15 at Temple
23 - Utah: Underdog by 6.82 at No. 18 Arizona State
24 - UCLA: by 4.53 over No. 17 Arizona
25 - UCF: by 23.24 at Connecticut

LARGEST/CLOSEST EXPECTED MARGIN OF VICTORY THIS WEEK:
Excluding FBS vs. FCS games, here are the 5 largest margins projected by the computer this week:
Ohio State 30.17 over Illinois
Baylor 28.37 over Kansas
Texas A&M 26.73 over UL-Monroe
Nebraska 24.37 over Purdue
UCF 23.24 over UConn

Here are the 5 closest computer projections:
Western Kentucky 0.13 over Louisiana Tech
Air Force 1.66 over Army
Ole Miss 1.74 over Auburn
Penn State 1.81 over Maryland
Wisconsin 2.95 over Rutgers

INTERESTING TIDBIT:
Kansas, which has lost 27 straight road games (current FBS longest) visits Baylor, which has won 13 straight home games (current FBS second-longest). No surprise that Baylor gets the computer's vote by 28.37 points.

COACHING CAROUSEL:
Charlie Weis, June Jones and Jeff Quinn are the early departures in the head coaching ranks.

Jones announced on September 8 that he was resigning as the head coach of SMU.

Weis was fired from Kansas on September 28.

On October 13, Buffalo fired head coach Jeff Quinn.

On October 5, Larry Blakeney announced he will retire from Troy at the end of the season.

Complete news on Coaching Changes here.

FBS vs. FCS:
None of this week's games pit FBS schools against FCS members.

FBS teams are 92-8 (.920) vs. the FCS on the season, and have a cumulative record of 923-89 (.912) since 2003.

Here are the results from all of this season's FBS losses to FCS schools:
8/30: Bethune-Cookman 14, FIU 12
8/30: North Dakota State 31, Iowa State 14
9/6: Eastern Kentucky 17, Miami (Ohio) 10
9/13: Indiana State 27, Ball State 20
9/13: Abilene Christian 38, Troy 35
9/20: NW State (La.) 30, Louisiana Tech 27
9/27: Yale 49, Army 43 (OT)
10/11: Liberty 55, Appalachian State 48 (OT)

North Dakota State's win over Iowa State on opening weekend was the 5th straight over a FBS team for the three-time defending FCS champions. Since 2010, NDSU has won road games at Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State, Kansas State, and now Iowa State. Conversely, Iowa State has lost 2 straight to FCS schools after opening last season with a loss to Northern Iowa.

Bethune-Cookman's win over FIU on opening weekend was its second straight over the Golden Panthers.

This year, 103 FBS schools have scheduled a total of 108 games against FCS foes. Appalachian State, Army, Ball State, Buffalo and FIU each play 2 such games.

STREAKS:
Florida State - 23-game winning streak (FBS longest), 17-game conference winning streak (FBS longest). At Louisville on Thursday.

Auburn - Won 14 straight home games (tied for FBS longest). At Ole Miss on Saturday.

Baylor - Won 13 straight home games (FBS second-longest). Hosts Kansas on Saturday.

Ohio State - Won 11 straight road games (FBS longest). Hosts Illinois on Saturday.

LSU - Won 49 straight regular season nonconference games (FBS longest). Idle.

SMU - Lost 9 straight overall (FBS longest). Idle.

Kansas - Lost 27 straight road games (FBS longest). At Baylor on Saturday.

Arkansas - Lost 16 straight conference games (FBS longest). At Mississippi State on Saturday.


2014 PRE-GAME ARCHIVES
10/27: Playoff Committee's First Rankings Coming Tuesday Night; Computer Projects Final 4
10/20: Ole Miss Visits LSU In Week's Only Top 25 Matchup
10/13: Notre Dame at FSU Heads 5 Matchups Among Top 24 Teams
10/08: Upcoming Week Could Create "Chaos, The Sequel"
10/01: Conference Play Heats Up As 16 Teams In Top 25 Square Off
09/22: PAC-12 Takes Center Stage With A Pair Of Top 25 Showdowns
09/15: Conference Clashes, Intersectional Battles Spice Up Week
09/08: Georgia-South Carolina Highlights Slim Week 3 Schedule
09/02: Five Big Games Highlight Week 2 Schedule
08/26: 2014 Season Preview - FSU over UCLA For National Title


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