Forde's Fab Four: Latest playoff bracket still has 'Bama on outside looking in

Pat Forde

Every Sunday, I will play Selection Committee member, take a look at the College Football Playoff picture and offer my bracket. Feel free to agree or disagree, starting with this: Forde's Fab Four features the same teams as last week, but in different order.

Sugar Bowl: No. 1 seed Texas A&M (4-0) vs. No. 4 seed Florida State (3-0)

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The Aggies move up to the top spot in the Fab Four based not so much on what they did Saturday – pulverizing winless SMU – but because of the continuing quality of their opening rout of South Carolina. The Gamecocks are the only team to beat East Carolina (which could win the ACC Coastal if it were part of the league) and the only team to beat Georgia. And Texas A&M destroyed Steve Spurrier University on its home field, the only visiting team to win there since 2011. A&M's other three victories are all filler, but they've also been no-doubters – the Aggies beat Lamar, Rice and SMU by an average of 50 points, only allowing a total of 19 points in those three games. Stat: Not only has Texas A&M never trailed this season, it has led by double digits for nearly 186 minutes of a total 240. Nobody has come close to scaring the Aggies yet. Next: Plays Arkansas in JerryWorld to begin a four-week stretch of brutal SEC West competition.

No team in America had a crazier week than the Seminoles, who lost star quarterback Jameis Winston first for a half, then for the whole game against ACC rival Clemson. Then Winston tried to suit up even while under suspension, the latest what-is-he-thinking moment from the defending Heisman Trophy winner. Florida State escaped without him, beating Clemson 23-17 in overtime, thanks in large part to some spectacular bungling by the Tigers. There was a shotgun snap over the head of the quarterback on the goal line, when Clemson was ready to score. There was a fumble late in regulation when all the Tigers needed was a field goal to win. And there was the fourth-and-a-foot stuffed run in OT, when Clemson's insistence on playing from the shotgun instead of under center was fatal. In short, Clemson Clemsoned. But Florida State also showed some moxie winning without Winston, and he will be back the rest of the way (pending another outbreak of idiocy). Stat: After blowing out 13 straight opponents last year, the Seminoles' last three games against FBS competition have been decided by six points or less. Next: at North Carolina State, a place where the 'Noles have been upset each of their last two visits.

Rose Bowl: No. 2 seed Oklahoma (4-0) vs. No. 3 seed Oregon (4-0)

Oregon's Marcus Mariota threw for 329 yards and five TDs to keep himself firmly in the Heisman conversation. (AP)
Oregon's Marcus Mariota threw for 329 yards and five TDs to keep himself firmly in the Heisman conversation. (AP)

The Sooners had a tough trip to open Big 12 play, traveling to West Virginia. They handled the Mountaineers every bit as well as Alabama did on a neutral field (that wasn't very neutral) to open the season. Following a home walloping of Tennessee, that makes two straight authoritative victories over power-five opponents. Quarterback Trevor Knight had his first mediocre game of the season against West Virginia but it didn't matter because the Sooners may have found a new backfield star. Freshman Samaje Perine, a 5-foot-11, 243-pound tank, trampled the Mountaineers for 242 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Perine was supposed to be the third option at best coming into the year, behind Keith Ford (injured) and more highly touted freshman Joe Mixon (suspended). Stat: Oklahoma is 10th nationally in turnover margin in large part because it has eight interceptions, tied for most in the nation. Next: Bye week before continuing the nine-game Big 12 schedule Oct. 4.

Oregon drops two spots after a sketchy escape at Washington State on Saturday night. The Ducks did what they always do offensively: 501 yards, 38 points, 7.5 yards per play. But they were gashed defensively by a Cougars team that lost at home to Rutgers and by double digits on the road to Nevada. Oregon gave up 499 yards, 31 points and 6.2 yards per play, and got away with a blatant pass interference no-call that stopped a late Washington State drive for what could have been the tying score. Despite the issues, a road conference win counts for something – and that 19-point victory over Michigan State two weeks ago counts for more. Stat: Running back/receiver Byron Marshall has had 39 touches from scrimmage. Forty-four percent of them (17) have gone for gains of 10 or more yards. Next: Bye week before hosting Arizona on a Thursday night, Oct. 2.

Dropped out: none.

Also considered: Alabama, Michigan State, Auburn, Mississippi, Mississippi State, BYU, UCLA.



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