Top 8 College Football Playoff Contenders at Midseason

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2014 will be the first year the new College Football Playoff format is used to decide who wins the Football Bowl Subdivision national championship. With only four teams making the playoff, there is realistically no way for a two-loss team to get in. In fact, there will likely be several one-loss teams that will find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoffs by the time December rolls around. As the college football season enters its second half, at least 15 teams still have a chance at being one of the four teams selected to play in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Here’s a look at the top eight College Football Playoff contenders at midseason.

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Mississippi State (6-0)

Current ranking:  1

Remaining schedule:

  • At Kentucky (5-2)
  • Arkansas (3-4)
  • UT Martin (3-5)
  • At No. 4 Alabama (6-1)
  • Vanderbilt (2-5)
  • At No. 3 Ole Miss (7-0)

For as good as the Bulldogs have been in 2014, they may find themselves out of the playoff picture by the end of the regular season. With road games against fourth-ranked Alabama and third-ranked Ole Miss, both SEC West rivals, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see Mississippi State end up with two losses at the end of the regular season. Right now, there are three SEC West teams ranked in the national top five. The College Football Playoff selection committee will have a hard enough time justifying selecting two SEC teams, let alone two from the SEC West (which is why Auburn is absent from this list) for the four-team College Football Playoff.

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Ole Miss (7-0)

Current ranking:  3

Remaining schedule:

  • At No. 24 LSU (6-2)
  • No. 5 Auburn (5-1)
  • Presbyterian (4-3)
  • Arkansas (3-4)
  • No. 1 Mississippi State (6-0)

Ole Miss is in a similar situation to its in-state rival from Starksville. The Rebels have a signature win over Alabama and truly control their own destiny as far as the College Football Playoff goes, and they have tough games in the next two weeks against No. 24 LSU and No. 5 Auburn. If they can get through those two games, they will be set for a matchup with top-ranked Mississippi State that could potentially end up being a playoff to get into the College Football Playoff.

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 Florida State (7-0) 

Current ranking:  2

Remaining schedule:

  • At Louisville (6-2)
  • Virginia (4-3)
  • At Miami (Fla.) (5-3)
  • Boston College (4-3)
  • Florida (3-3)

Florida State survived a serious test from seventh-ranked Notre Dame a week ago in a game that was likely its final real test of the regular season. It would be truly shocking if Florida State doesn’t become one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff.

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Alabama (6-1)

Current ranking:  4

Remaining schedule:

  • At Tennessee (3-4)
  • At No. 24 LSU (6-2)
  • No. 1 Mississippi State (6-0)
  • West Carolina (5-2)
  • No. 5 Auburn (5-1)

Alabama sent a serious message and silenced a lot of critics with a 59-0 win over Texas A&M last week. The team still has a tough road ahead of it, with games against No. 24 LSU, No. 1 Mississippi State, and No. 5 Auburn. There is no doubting that the Crimson Tide is one of the most talented teams in America with one of the most successful head coaches in college football history.

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Harry How/Getty Images

Oregon (6-1)

Current ranking:  6

Remaining schedule:

  • At Cal (4-3)
  • Stanford (4-3)
  • At No. 19 Utah (5-1)
  • Colorado (2-5)
  • At Oregon State (4-2)

Oregon always seems to lose a game every year that it has no business losing. That has already happened this year against Arizona, but the Ducks have bounced back in a big way with dominating wins over both UCLA and Washington. Their remaining schedule sets them up nicely to finish the season with only one loss, which should be good enough for them to be one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff.

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Notre Dame (6-1)

Current ranking:  7

Remaining schedule:

  • At Navy (3-4)
  • At No. 14 Arizona State (5-1)
  • Northwestern (3-4)
  • Louisville (6-2)
  • At No. 20 USC (5-2) 

If it weren’t for a fourth-quarter pass interference call that negated a potential game-winning Irish touchdown pass, Notre Dame would be undefeated and looking like a near-lock to make the College Football Playoff. As it stands, the Irish are still in good shape. They will be tested by No. 14 Arizona State and No. 20 USC, and with wins in both games, it will be hard to keep the Irish out of the Playoff.

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Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

Georgia (6-1) 

Current ranking:  9

Remaining schedule:

  • Florida (3-3)
  • At Kentucky (5-2)
  • No. 5 Auburn (5-1)
  • Charleston Southern (5-2)
  • Georgia Tech (5-2) 

If suspended running back Todd Gurley gets reinstated, Georgia’s chances at making the College Football Playoff will grow exponentially. Still, as it stands, the Bulldogs already have a really good shot. They are looking like the top team in the SEC East, and if they can get by No. 5 Auburn, they likely enter the SEC Championship Game with only one loss.

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Michigan State (6-1) 

Current ranking:  8

Remaining schedule:

  • Michigan (3-4)
  • No. 13 Ohio State (5-1)
  • At Maryland (5-2)
  • Rutgers (5-2)
  • At Penn State (4-2)

The Spartans look like the premier team in the Big Ten in 2014. Their last real test before the Big Ten Championship Game will come against No. 13 Ohio State. If they can beat the Buckeyes, they will likely win out and be one of the top contenders for one of the four Playoff spots.