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Ridley's Rankings Week 7

Updated on October 17, 2014
"Hail State" has entered the national lexicon as the Bulldogs ascend to the top of the polls for the first time in school history.
"Hail State" has entered the national lexicon as the Bulldogs ascend to the top of the polls for the first time in school history.

[Editor's Note: The original article that was published here is now on Oregon Sports News.]

Just as the cream rises to the top, so has the most impressive college team in the nation. Mississippi State, which was un-ranked just five short weeks ago, is now atop the both national polls as well as the clear leader in my rankings. They completed the quickest ascent in the history of the AP by defeating three top-10 opponents in their last three contests, just the fifth team in history to do so (and the first since "Every Breath You Take" by The Police topped the Billboard charts). We've already discussed Hail State's chances of making the playoffs (which increased significantly after beating Auburn), so we'll take a look at three other teams that are still in the hunt.

If you need a reminder of how the rankings are calculated or what the numbers mean, you can find the explanations here.

The Rankings

My Rank
Mississippi State
Ole Miss
Florida State
Notre Dame
Michigan State
Ohio State
Kansas State
Oklahoma State
Arizona State
Texas A&M
East Carolina
Robert Nkemdiche leads an Ole Miss defense that allows less than 12 points per game.
Robert Nkemdiche leads an Ole Miss defense that allows less than 12 points per game.

2. Ole Miss (93.45) [2]

The other team in Mississippi, despite hosting ESPN's College Gameday and beating Alabama in the national spotlight, seems to be overlooked. They are third in the nation, but they are also the team that nobody is really talking about. Hail State is getting all the attention after their recent string of dominance, Florida State continues to rack up headlines because of Jameis Winston's innate ability to commit acts of stupidity and Alabama is constantly discussed because it's so much fun watching Nick Saban get worked up. Meanwhile, Ole Miss just minds their own business and shuts down opponents with a suffocating defense.

Much like their in-state counterpart, the Rebels have a horrendously difficult schedule (a blanket statement that applies to all of the SEC West). They have already beat Alabama and Texas A&M, but still have a formidable, although underachieving LSU team, Auburn, Arkansas (who took Alabama to the wire) and Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. Their only "easy" games remaining are Tennessee on Saturday and Presbyterian in three weeks, so the chances of them going undefeated is relatively low. But that doesn't mean they have to miss the playoffs.

Ole Miss is in a position where their quality wins and strength of schedule will keep them in the playoff hunt even after a loss. There's little doubt at this point that a one-loss SEC team will be in the playoffs as only five Power Five teams remain undefeated (sorry, Marshall, you have no shot), and at least two are guaranteed a loss before the season ends. Even if it works out that three teams manage to go undefeated, Mississippi State, Florida State and Baylor, for example, a one-loss SEC team will almost certainly go in ahead of a Pac-12 or Big Ten team. (Quick tangent: Outside of SEC country, there's a national cry of SEC bias by the polls, computers, media, etc. I'm certainly no SEC enthusiast or apologist for that matter, but the SEC earned their reputation. Since 2004, the SEC has won 80.57% of their out-of-conference games; no other conference is about 70%.) Michigan State and Oregon both have their merits, but their schedule is a far cry from what Ole Miss has or will have played. If the Rebels can manage to finish their brutal schedule with an 11-1 mark, I like their chances of making it to the dance. Getting to 11-1, however, will be no easy task.

Chances of making the playoffs: 33%


6. Notre Dame (82.36) [7]

With Notre Dame being the only undefeated team I haven't cover (save for Marshall), it's only fitting that I prognosticate a day before their toughest match-up.

The Irishmen have had a relatively easy season to date, facing only one team (Stanford at home) that has a winning record. Last weekend, North Carolina gave Brian Kelly's team all they could handle, taking a lead into the fourth quarter. It is possible that the Golden Domers simply got caught looking ahead, but it doesn't exactly inspire confidence as they prepare to face a team that has won 22-straight games.

Notre Dame proved on Saturday that their offensive is strong enough to put up points on a Seminoles defense that has allowed nearly 30 points per game against teams who own a winning record. The question is, can their defense stop the Florida State offense enough to keep the offense in the game. The Seminoles started off slowly but have averaged over 45 points per game in their last three contests. Jameis Winston, despite his off-the-field issues, has remained focused and is coming off his best game of the season, having completed 83 percent of his passed for 317 yards and three touchdowns. Barring a last-minute suspension, the Irish will have their hands full trying to contain the reigning Heisman winner.

Should they escape Tallahassee with a win, they will be favored in all their remaining games, but it will be no picnic. Trips to Arizona State and USC still loom, as do matches with Navy, Louisville and Northwestern. A win over FSU will be enough to cement their legitimacy; wins over the Sun Devils and Trojans will secure their playoff bid. Now all they need to do is win.

Side note: Notre Dame is such a college football institution that even without quality teams on their schedule, there is zero chance an undefeated Irish squad would be out of the playoffs. As long as they have one marquee game to show

Chances of making the playoffs: 21%


23. Marshall (48.83) [6]

The Thundering Herd are 6-0 and have a great shot at going undefeated. They also have the second-largest point differential in the NCAA, trailing only Baylor. Unfortunately for Marshall, their shot at the playoffs begins and ends with two words, "Conference USA". With an out-of-conference slate that features three MAC teams (the worst conference in football) and Rhode Island, there is nothing to speak to Marshall's potential legitimacy, thus their playoff chance was over before it ever began.

Chances of making the playoffs: 0.0000001%

[FYI: For those wondering how my raw rankings have Marshall sixth, winning percentage is the heaviest-weighted factor in my rankings. Marshall also comes ahead of Notre Dame in those rankings solely because it has a conference affiliate, which Notre Dame doesn't. I realize this punishes the independents, but I haven't found a suitable, objective way to fix it. If you have a better remedy, I'm all ears.]

Who Got Dissed?

Which Team Should Have Made the Top 25?

See results

Other Notable Teams

Because I copped out by giving 50 words to Marshall's never-going-to-happen playoff chance, I have kept my "Other Notable Teams" segment in here to appease the masses (and boost my word count).

Kentucky (27) is on the verge of crashing the rankings and making me rethink my life choices … Georgia Tech dropped to 28th after their loss to Duke, who is one spot behind them … Colorado State (33) leads the Mountain West after a seven-point win in Nevada … Boise State is 10 spots back of them at (43) … Despite being 3-3, Arkansas is at 42 … Georgia Southern (48) sits atop the Sun Belt … Akron (yes, Akron!) (59) leads the MAC, still the worst conference in the country … UAB (58) is Conference USA's second-best team … Vanderbilt moved up to 100 thanks to a win over Charleston Southern, but is still the worst SEC team by 46 spots … and the worst of the worst this week are: Miami (OH) (124), Appalachian State, Massachusetts, Idaho and Kent State (128). For those of you keeping track at home, that's three MAC teams and two from the Sun Belt. Go mid majors!


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    • Mike Ridley profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike Ridley 

      4 years ago from Paducah, KY

      Thank you for the feedback Larry. I'm glad to hear that people (or at least a person) are/is enjoying the rankings. Let me know if you have any questions or any info you want to see in the future.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      I am enjoying these weekly rankings.

      I'm a big Sooners fan. Last week they won, but it felt like a loss. They have a lot of talent, but there are a lot of problems, too. There is much criticism going to DB play, and it is warranted, but a bit overblown.

      The biggest problem to me seems to be the OCs insistence on running the read option with no intent of the QB ever keeping it.

      The Mississippis have been by far the best show in town in our young season.

      Great article.


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