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There’s a day every year in the college football calendar where chaos erupts out of nowhere.
Saturday’s plethora of eye-popping results was full of turnover chains, cowbells and good ol’ fashioned beatdowns in heated rivalry games.
The teams who deserve to be in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday asserted their dominance across a day that blindsided some with performances few people saw coming.
Now the playoff committee has to make sense of all the madness by Tuesday, but no one wants to wait until then to figure out the top four.
Here’s who we think will be ranked in the first four positions of the College Football Playoff rankings after Week 11.
No matter what your opinion may be of the Alabama Crimson Tide, they are the most likely candidate to claim the No. 1 position in the rankings.
The Crimson Tide struggled with Mississippi State on Saturday night, but ultimately Jalen Hurts came through in the clutch, and they left Starkville, Mississippi without a blemish on their resume. Hurts had last year’s National Championship on his mind during the closing stages of Saturday’s game, per Chandler Rome of the Anniston Star:
Chandler Rome @Chandler_Rome
Jalen Hurts: “I couldn’t help but think of the national championship game. We had 1:09 left. Deshaun Watson had 1:09 to go and he went down and won the game.”
Misssissippi State put a game plan out there that could be replicated by Auburn in two weeks in the Iron Bowl. The Bulldogs controlled the pace with their run game and didn’t drift too far away from the tackle box while pushing the ball down the field.
Nick Saban will not be pleased with the performance of his team, but it was enough to keep it above all the other contenders for another week.
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press
Saban and Co. have two weeks to prepare for Auburn and a game that will determine the SEC West champion and where both teams land during bowl season.
2. Miami (FL)
With all due respect to the rest of the top dogs in college football, the Miami Hurricanes have earned this position over the last two weeks.
A week after knocking off Virginia Tech, Mark Richt‘s Hurricanes demolished Notre Dame to remain undefeated on Saturday night. Richt responded diplomatically when he was asked about where his team belongs in the rankings after the game, per Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post:
Matt Porter @mattyports
Are you a top-4 team? Richt: “I don’t know. We’ll see on Tuesday when they vote.”
The Miami defense stole the show by forcing four turnovers, one of which was an interception return for a touchdown.
Not only is Miami undefeated, but it now has two wins over top-15 teams in Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. But regardless of where you think the Hurricanes belong at the moment, their fate will be determined in the ACC Championship against Clemson.
Clemson didn’t blow Florida State out of the water in Week 11, but it was able to close the game out after a late threat from the Seminoles.
When it comes down to comparing Clemson to Alabama and Miami, the difference that stands out the most is the number in the Tigers’ loss column. However, you can counter that with the four wins over ranked opponents on Clemson’s resume.
With Saturday’s win over Florida State, the Tigers became the second team in ACC history to advance to three consecutive ACC Championships, per ESPN Stats and Info:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
. @ClemsonFB books its 3rd straight trip to the ACC Championship Game. They join Florida State (2012-14) as the only schools with three straight ACC title game appearances. https://t.co/4SRJhueIld
Just like Miami, the final decision regarding Clemson will come down to the ACC Championship, which could end up being one of a few de-facto quarterfinal games on championship weekend, as college football writer Bryan Fischer pointed out:
Bryan Fischer @BryanDFischer
Still the potential for what amounts to quarterfinal games in the SEC, ACC and Big 12 title games this year.
There’s going to be a lot of discussion, most of it on social media between fan bases, about who belongs in the No. 4 position on Tuesday.
By virtue of their win over TCU on Saturday, the Oklahoma Sooners are the logical choice to slide in behind Alabama, Miami and Clemson. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley believes his team is starting to play its best football right now, per Brooke Pryor of The Oklahoman:
Brooke Pryor @bepryor
Lincoln Riley: “We’re starting to play our best ball, which is what you want to see this time of year”
There will be a contingent against Oklahoma in the top four because its loss to Iowa State looks worse now that the Cyclones have fallen out of the Big 12 picture. However, the Sooners have three wins over top-25 opposition and have back-to-back conference wins over ranked foes.
The arguments for undefeated Wisconsin and one-loss Georgia will be fierce, and in most aspects reasonable, but Oklahoma did nothing wrong in Week 11 to affect its standing in the playoff rankings.
Like we all know, a lot can change before the final rankings are announced, but until the Sooners drop another game, they’ll be on track to represent the Big 12 in the playoff.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.