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Ridley's Rankings, Week 5

Updated on September 29, 2014

Another weekend of college football is in the books, putting us about one-third of the way through what hopes to be another terrific season. Unlike the previous weeks, which featured numerous upsets of ranked teams, this week was mostly chalk. Only two ranked teams lost during the week, and one of which, Arizona State, fell to a higher ranked team. South Carolina, the other ranked team to be knocked off, lost to a Missouri team that was ranked ahead of them in both polls just three weeks ago. So for those that enjoy landscape-changing Saturdays, this was not your week. Nonetheless, it was college football, so it was still enjoyable.

Going forward, these articles will take on a different format compared to the one that was posted and eventually taken down last week due to its similarity to the one I submit to Oregon Sports News. In order to fulfill my commitment to OSN and still create content for HubPages, I've decided to take a new direction with this column. Instead of laying out all 25 teams and giving a quick spiel, I'll select three to five teams to take a deeper look at and explore their possibilities of reaching the college football playoff. I'll still provide the top 25 rankings, but only as a table.

If you're looking for the normal rankings, you can find this week's version on OSN here. If you're looking for last week's column or need to know how the rankings are created, you can find that here.

My Rank
Florida State
Texas A&M
Notre Dame
Mississippi State
Ole Miss
Michigan State
Ohio State
Oklahoma State
East Carolina
Kansas State

1. Florida State (100.00) [7]

What better way to start off the new format then by talking about the top-ranked defending champions? The Noles have topped the AP every week this season, but as can be seen by their point tally dropping in the AP and being overtaken by Alabama in the USA Today poll, their mortality is much more present than it was in their record-breaking 2013 season. As I've said before, I believe that Florida State finished with the highest single-season point differential in college football history with a whopping +550 entering the championship game. That's an average victory of 42.3 points. The Seminoles combined winning margin through their first four games of 2014 is only 52, and that's including a game against the Citadel. Sure, they lost seven players to the draft and another nine to graduation, but they still have their main play-maker in Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston.

Winston, however, has been a shell of himself this season. Whether it be to his multiple off-the-field distractions or film study (by other teams) catching up to him, he has struggled to produce like he did a year ago. He currently sits just 20th in passer efficiency, a category he walked away with in 2013. He also has a TD-INT ratio of just 7-4 after three games. In 2013, he didn't throw his fourth interception until Week 7. FSU's schedule isn't exactly loaded with top-tier teams, so they can probably make the playoffs without Winston being great. If FSU wants to win another championship, however, they will need their best player at the top of his game.

Outside of a visit by Brian Kelly's Irishmen, the Noles won't face a team currently ranked in my top 30. Trips to Louisville and Miami could offer some challenges for Jimbo Fisher's crew, but FSU should still win those even without playing their best football. They also host the Gators in the final week of the season. Florida will likely have nothing to play for except to spoil their in-state rivals bid at a second-straight national championship. That is, of course, if FSU makes it past Notre Dame. The 11.5 points per game the Irish are allowing is fourth-best in the nation. Traveling to Tallahassee is sure to work against the Golden Domers, but if they can force turnovers like they did against Michigan, the defending champs could be ripe for an upset.

Chance of making the playoffs: 85%

4. Auburn (93.58) [3]

Now let's talk about the team the Seminoles faced in last season's BCS Championship. The Tigers of Auburn were seconds away from claiming their second national championship in four years before Kelvin Benjamin rose above the defenders to haul in the game-winning touchdown. This year, they have continued where they left off, winning their first four contests by an average score of 42-16 (though it should be noted they have yet to start conference play).

Just as they did last year, Auburn's winning with an overwhelming run game and a stingy defense. They are averaging over 260 yards on the ground, led by senior running back Cameron Artis-Payne. He and quarterback Nick Marshall have paced an offense that, combined with their 15th ranked defense, is third in normalized scoring differential.

So what are the chances of Auburn making it back to the national championship, or even the playoffs? Not very good. Over the next eight weeks, Auburn plays six teams that are currently ranked -- including four on the road -- with another (South Carolina) that could be ranked by the time they face them. The only respite the Tigers can look forward to is a game against FCS foe Samford the week before the Iron Bowl. If the Tigers can somehow run the gamut on their grueling schedule, they will end the regular season number one, regardless of what Florida State, Oregon or any other team does. Even if they lose one, say to SEC East opponent Georgia, they still have a shot at the SEC championship, with a win all but guaranteeing a slot in the playoffs. But to come out of the schedule with one loss or less is much easier said than done.

Chance of making the playoffs: 33%

17. BYU (59.33) [13]

Growing up in southeastern Idaho, where the Mormon per capita rate is higher than Salt Lake City, I have always been surrounded by BYU supporters. For many of the my high school teammates, their ultimate dream was not to play for Oregon or Florida or even Boise State, but to play for the Cougars in Provo, Utah (after their mission, of course). I bring this up because it is exactly how BYU landed their Heisman-candidate quarterback, Taysom Hill. Hill, who attended my alma mater, Highland High School in Pocatello, shortly after I graduated, turned down a scholarship to Stanford to play for BYU. Now he has them undefeated, ranked and pushing towards a shot at the NCAA playoffs.

After four weeks, BYU is one of just 17 undefeated teams left in the FBS. As far as odds to finish undefeated are concerned, the Cougars chances have to be near the top. They play just one team that is currently in my top 50, #38 California. The average ranking of the other six remaining FBS-level teams is just 83rd. Unless they slip up against rival Utah State or in Boise, where the Broncos are tough to beat, they will likely be vying for an undefeated season when they travel down to Berkley. The problem is, it may not mean much.

Because BYU's future schedule is so weak and their previous opponents have won just 8 of their 18 games, BYU will be a tough sell to the selection committee. The human aspect leaves room for uncertainty, but it is hard to imagine the 12 committee members placing a BYU squad against a one-loss SEC team if it it came down to it. However, the rising parody in the college football could result in more teams ending up with two or three losses at the top of the conferences, instead of undefeated and one-loss teams. Without this happening, the Cougars have very little hope of being one of the four teams selected.

Chances of making the playoffs: 16%

Making the Playoffs

Which Team Has the Best Shot at Making the College Football Playoffs?

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