It took a game-winning Alabama touchdown drive in Baton Rouge and a triple-overtime escape at Notre Dame Stadium to maintain the consensus of the top four teams among the CBSSports.com playoff selection committee.
The weekly results gathered from the 10-voter panel -- which simulates a playoff selection committee before it becomes official in 2014 -- produced a playoff picture unchanged from a week ago with Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame as the top four teams.
Despite the Crimson Tide’s victory over LSU on a 72-yard drive in the final minute of the game, one voter dropped Alabama (149 points) to second place in favor of Oregon (139), which amassed 730 yards of total offense Saturday at USC. The Ducks’ 62-51 victory helped increase their margin over Kansas State (132). But Notre Dame (120), which struggled against Pittsburgh before securing a 29-26 win, fell out of favor with some members, earning fourth-place votes across the board.
|College Football Final Four|
|1. Alabama||Alabama OR Notre Dame|
|4. Notre Dame|
|2. Oregon||vs. Oregon OR Kansas State|
|3. Kansas State|
In spite of Saturday’s near-upsets, this is the first time in five weeks that all undefeated teams have remained unscathed.
The result is semifinal games of Alabama-Notre Dame and Oregon-Kansas State, with the winners squaring off for the championship.
Should any top teams fall, one-loss Georgia (108) is in position to capitalize, still building on its momentum from a 17-9 victory over then-undefeated Florida (88) two weeks ago. Also with one loss, the Gators are still alive, but need some help along the way to make it back into the playoff. With a pair of cupcakes in the next two weeks, Florida would need an impressive win over Florida State (78) at the end of the season to have any hope of reaching a semifinal game.
But there is still plenty of football to be played before then.
Speaking of the Seminoles, they’re not out of it yet -- but only barely. One voter didn’t even rank Florida State in the top 15.
With its gut-wrenching loss to Alabama and two losses, LSU (77) is more than likely out of the running, but gives the SEC four teams in the top 10.
Although it is still undefeated, Louisville (64) simply cannot overcome the weaker scheduling of the Big East. Rounding out the top 10, one-loss Clemson (62) needs to dominate its remaining opponents and close out strong with a showdown against in-state rival South Carolina (34).
Looking ahead to this weekend, Alabama faces another stiff test as it hosts Texas A&M (32). More questions loom for Kansas State, as star quarterback Collin Klein’s status is uncertain after sustaining an undisclosed injury against Oklahoma State. The Wildcats will need to continue their success -- with or without Klein -- to remain in the mock playoff, as a date with TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, approaches. Both the Ducks and the Irish face weaker opponents in California and Boston College, respectively. In both cases, style points could help propel either program in the case of upsets at the top.
CBSSports.com playoff selection committee: Tony Barnhart, Dennis Dodd, Bruce Feldman, Tom Fornelli, Jeremy Fowler, Jerry Hinnen, Matt Hinton, Chris Huston, Jerry Palm, Chip Patterson.