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Mississippi State Leads SEC West Power Rankings; Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss Not Far Behind


The College Football Playoff selection committee will release its first top 25 of the season on Tuesday night. Mississippi State and Florida State are almost certain to be among the top four. After that? It’s anyone’s guess — due largely to the craziness that is the SEC West.

 I think we all agree that Mississippi State should be at the top of any ranking of SEC teams at this point of the season. The Bulldogs are 4–0 in the league, with a 15-point victory over Auburn and two quality road wins (LSU and Kentucky). This spot is tenuous — they still have to play at Alabama and at Ole Miss — but right now the Dogs claim the No. 1 ranking.

After that? Well, reasonable minds can differ, but I’ve got Ole Miss No. 2 despite the Rebels’ loss at LSU on Saturday. You can make a strong case that Auburn and Alabama are both better — and more complete — teams right now, but Ole Miss has a win over Alabama in its back pocket. I understand that you have to look at a team’s entire body of work — and that matters more when the season is complete — but the results on the field still matter.

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Alabama gets the nod over Auburn for the No. 3 spot in the power rankings. This one was extremely close. The résumés are very similar: Both teams have loss on the road to an elite team (Alabama at Ole Miss; Auburn at Mississippi State); both teams have very good non-conference win (Alabama over West Virginia; Auburn at Kansas State); and both teams have been a bit inconsistent in their other SEC wins (Alabama struggled with Arkansas; Auburns struggled at home against South Carolina). If these two teams played on a neutral field next week, I would favor Alabama (slightly). As a result, Nick Saban’s team gets my No. 3 ranking.

So that leaves Auburn at No. 4. And here’s the crazy part: You can make a very strong case that Auburn should be ranked No. 3 in the nation yet I have them No. 4 in my SEC West rankings.

For the sanity of the college football world, let’s hope things become a bit more clear when the season is over. Each of the top four teams in the SEC West still has to play two games against the other three elite teams, and Alabama still has to play at LSU, and Auburn has a road date at Georgia.

Stay tuned.