My CFB four: Ohio State, Ole Miss, Michigan State and Georgia

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The Chad Kelly-led Rebels are a cut above what Ole Miss had in 2014. (AP/Butch Dill)

It was pretty exciting to catch a glimpse of the new AP top 25 and see Big Ten teams — Ohio State and Michigan State — in the Nos. 1 and 2 spots.

Do the voter polls actually matter? Not at all, with the ship being steered by the College Football Playoff selection committee, whose first rankings won’t be revealed for another six-plus weeks. But still, pretty exciting.

Just imagine the nuttiness should the Buckeyes and Spartans remain unbeaten until their meeting on Nov. 21 in Columbus. That would easily be the most-hyped Big Ten matchup since Nos. 1 and 2 Ohio State and Michigan, both unbeaten, faced off in the 2006 regular-season finale.

But I’ve gotten way ahead of myself again.

The season is three weeks old — too soon to fret over which teams should compose the playoff four. Yet I’m going to do that here anyway, minus the fretting, because Saturday shook things up so dramatically. Alabama and USC were beaten. The Buckeyes, TCU and UCLA all underperformed in victory.

Which are the best four teams right now?

Ohio State has to be one of them. The quarterback position is surprisingly off-kilter, but the defense is considerably better than it was during the Buckeyes’ 2014 championship season.

I’m not convinced that Michigan State is second-best, but it’s in the four. The Spartans’ Week 2 victory over Oregon stands for a lot.

No team has played better than Ole Miss, which won at Alabama in hugely  impressive fashion Saturday. The Rebels are in my four, and so is Georgia. Tough call on that fourth team; Notre Dame and LSU are my first two out.

But listen to me — “out.” There’s no out yet. There’s no in. We’ve got plenty of time.


1. Ole Miss rose to near the top of the polls after beating Alabama last year, but the Rebels proved to be less than advertised, flaming out with three regular-season losses and getting blown out by TCU in a bowl game. This Rebels team is much better than that team was, for two reasons. One, new starting quarterback Chad Kelly is twice the talent predecessor Bo Wallace was. Two, what was a young team in 2014 is now bigger, stronger and more experienced. Look out.

2. Is Alabama done, playoff-wise? It feels like it. The Tide likely will be underdogs at Georgia on Oct. 3, and that’s the next mega-matchup on my “Games of the Millennium” calendar. Tide quarterback Jacob Coker has a lot of ability, but his inaccuracy will persist as a concern.

3. All serious injuries are awful, but the ACL tear sustained by Notre Dame’s Drue Tranquill in an otherwise terrific victory over Georgia Tech was particularly gut-wrenching. Tranquill, who was hurt while celebrating a nice defensive play in the end zone, could be heard sobbing and repeating “No!” on NBC’s telecast. The Irish have been hit especially hard by injury. This one drove home how emotional that can be.

Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg


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