The first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday, and it likely surprised exactly zero people that three of the initial top four teams reside in the SEC West — Mississippi State (1), Auburn (3) and Ole Miss (4). Defending national champion Florida State checked in at No. 2, and Oregon is the highest-ranked Pac-12 Conference team at No. 5. All of which means … well, basically nothing right now. Saw a story last week that quoted a committee member saying that he thinks the rest of the season will bring clarity to the CFP race. And as incredibly obvious as that statement is, it’s worth remembering there are still a lot of games left and plenty of time for teams to move up or fall out completely.
At least one team in that top four will lose this weekend because in yet another quality SEC matchup, Auburn visits Ole Miss for a 4 p.m. game on ESPN. Florida State at Louisville, TCU at West Virginia, Arizona at UCLA, Utah at Arizona State and Stanford at Oregon are other important matchups to keep an eye on.
With five weeks left in the regular season, two names seem to keep surfacing atop Heisman prediction lists — Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. The guess here is that Prescott probably won’t win it if MSU finishes with more than one loss, and the same can probably be said for Mariota — though Mariota is probably the better pick at this point from a pure statistical standpoint. Hard to see anyone other than those two guys winning it — Melvin Gordon, Amari Cooper and even Jameis Winston don’t seem to move the needle quite as much — but stranger things have happened.
It was noted before Washington’s 24-10 loss to Arizona State last week that the Huskies were starting a third quarterback in the same season for the first time since 2004 when Casey Paus, Isaiah Stanback and Carl Bonnell shared the duties. Jeff Lindquist, Cyler Miles and now Troy Williams have each started a game for the Huskies in 2014, but there’s no question about who the full-time starter is: it’s Miles, unless he’s hurt, which is why Williams started last week. Miles returns to action this week at Colorado, his first college game in his home state.
So, where does Huskies junior Shaq Thompson fit best — linebacker or running back? Huskies coach Chris Petersen isn’t sure, which is why you’ll probably see him play both positions some more before the season is over. But probably won’t be in the same game, unless the Huskies only want to give him a few carries. While it doesn’t seem particularly prudent to remove a player who has scored four defensive touchdowns this season from his natural position of linebacker, the Huskies’ running-back depth has thinned in a way that calls for creative solutions. Look for Thompson to carry the rock some more Saturday against Colorado.