Oregon jumped undefeated Florida State and moved into second in the College Football Playoff rankings while TCU took over the fourth spot Tuesday night.
Mississippi State remained No. 1. The Seminoles (9-0) slipped to No. 3. Oregon (9-1) moved up after winning at Utah. The Ducks now have three wins against teams currently in the top 25 (Michigan State, UCLA, Utah). Florida State has beaten two teams in the top 25 (Notre Dame and Clemson).
Committee chairman Jeff Long, the athletic director at Arkansas, said the panel had a long and hard discussion about the merits of the Ducks and Seminoles.
“We looked beyond the record,” Long said. “The committee placed significant value on Oregon’s quality of wins.”
The 12-person selection committee will chose the four playoff teams on Dec. 7.
Alabama (8-1) is No. 5 and Arizona State (8-1) is sixth, and both appear to be in good shape to secure a spot in the playoff if they can keep winning.
Alabama hosts Mississippi State on Saturday. If Arizona State wins out, it would have to go through Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.
Baylor (8-1) moved to seventh, but is still behind Big 12 rival TCU (8-1), which lost to the Bears in Waco, Texas, by a field goal last month.
The Bears and Horned Frogs could end the season tied atop the Big 12. If that happens, the conference has said Baylor and TCU would be co-champions.
The selection committee has been directed to use conference championships and head-to-head matchups as ways of distinguishing between teams with similar resumes.
Long said TCU’s overall body of work, which includes two wins against the top 25 (Minnesota and Kansas State) outweighed Baylor’s last-second victory against the Horned Frogs.
Long stressed that Baylor could still move past the Horned Frogs.
“They can make their case by their body of work and resume,” Long said.
Ohio State (8-1) is up to eighth after its big victory at Michigan State. The Buckeyes are the highest ranked team from the Big Ten.
Auburn, which had been in the top four the first two weeks of the rankings, fell to No. 9 after losing to Texas A&M at home on Saturday.