Everyone's paranoid about the College Football Playoff, but that's exactly what we wanted. Who deserves to be in the top four? Martin Rickman ranks his playoff teams and the rest of the top 25 in this week's college football Power Rankings.

By Martin Rickman
December 02, 2014

As a college English major always looking for independent studies in order to spend more time off campus covering the football and basketball teams, the idea of an honors thesis appeared to be the perfect plan. I was already writing, so what damage could more writing do? Plus I was getting a bunch of credits and never had to step in a classroom!

Like many college kids, I didn’t quite think things through. My thesis was on paranoia in Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, and after immersing in the text on the third or fourth reading, I started to get paranoid myself. Somewhere in between a rambling essay written after about 13 PBRs at the Blue Moon Diner in Charlottesville and wandering around Little Havana in a haze after Wake Forest was upset by Cleveland State at the NCAA tournament in March, I lost myself a little bit. Okay, I lost myself a lot.

That’s how I’ve started to feel this late in the season.

(O Brave New World.,

That Has Such Playoffs In’t)

So my mind drifted back to that spring and honed in on a quote from Gravity’s Rainbow that sums up we college football fans in the first year of the College Football Playoff better than anything I can write. “Paranoids are not paranoids because they’re paranoid,” Pynchon writes, “but because they keep putting themselves, f****** idiots, deliberately into paranoid situations.”

We asked for this. We got exactly what we asked for. Now it’s time to see what hath college football wrought.

• ELLIS: Bowl Projections: Who's likely to make the playoff, all bowls?

1
1Alabama Crimson Tide
last week: 1
record: 11-1

Last game: Beat Auburn, 55-44
Next game: Saturday vs. Missouri (SEC Championship)

2
2Florida State Seminoles
last week: 2
record: 12-0

Last game: Beat Florida, 24-19
Next game: Saturday vs. Georgia Tech (ACC championship)

3
3Oregon Ducks
last week: 3
record: 11-1

Last game: Beat Oregon State, 47-19
Next game: Friday vs. Arizona (Pac-12 championship)

4
4Baylor Bears
last week: 4
record: 10-1

Last game: Beat Texas Tech, 48-46
Next game: Saturday vs. Kansas State

5
5TCU Horned Frogs
last week: 6
record: 10-1

Last game: Beat Texas, 48-10
Next game: Saturday vs. Iowa State

6
6Ohio State Buckeyes
last week: 7
record: 11-1

Last game: Beat Michigan, 42-28
Next game: Saturday vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten championship)

7
7Arizona Wildcats
last week: 13
record: 10-2

Next game: Friday vs. Oregon (Pac-12 championship)

8
8Michigan State Spartans
last week: 8
record: 10-2

Last game: Beat Penn State, 34-10
Next game: Regular season complete

9
9Kansas State Wildcats
last week: 10
record: 9-2

Last game: Beat Kansas, 51-13
Next game: Saturday at Baylor

10
10Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
last week: 17
record: 10-2

Last game: Beat Georgia, 30-24 (OT)
Next game: Saturday vs. Florida State (ACC championship)

11
11Wisconsin Badgers
last week: 14
record: 10-2

Last game: Beat Minnesota, 34-24
Next game: Saturday vs. Ohio State (Big Ten championship)

12
12Missouri Tigers
last week: 19
record: 10-2

Last game: Beat Arkansas, 21-14
Next game: Saturday vs. Alabama (SEC Championship)

13
13Ole Miss Rebels
last week: 21
record: 9-3

Last game: Beat Mississippi State, 31-17
Next game: Regular season complete

14
14Mississippi State Bulldogs
last week: 5
record: 10-2

Last game: Lost to Ole Miss, 31-17
Next game: Regular season complete

15
15Georgia Bulldogs
last week: 9
record: 9-3

Last game: Lost to Georgia Tech, 30-24 (OT)
Next game: Regular season complete

16
16UCLA Bruins
last week: 11
record: 9-3

Last game: Lost to Stanford, 31-10
Next game: Regular season complete

17
17Arizona State Sun Devils
last week: 12
record: 9-3

Last game: Lost to Arizona, 42-35
Next game: Regular season complete

18
18Oklahoma Sooners
last week: 20
record: 8-3

Last game: Beat Kansas, 44-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State

19
19Clemson Tigers
last week: 22
record: 9-3

Last game: Beat South Carolina, 35-17
Next game: Regular season complete

20
20Louisville Cardinals
last week: 23
record: 9-3

Last game: Beat Kentucky, 44-40
Next game: Regular season complete

21
21Boise State Broncos
last week: 24
record: 10-2

Last game: Beat Utah State, 50-19
Next game: Saturday vs. Fresno State (Mountain West championship)

22
22Auburn Tigers
last week: 15
record: 8-4

Last game: Lost to Alabama, 55-44
Next game: Regular season complete

23
23LSU Tigers
last week: NR
record: 8-4

Last game: Beat Texas A&M, 23-17
Next game: Regular season complete

24
24Memphis Tigers
last week: NR
record: 9-3

Last game: Beat UConn, 41-10
Next game: Regular season complete

25
25Marshall Thundering Herd
last week: 18
record: 11-1

Last game: Lost to Western Kentucky, 67-66 (OT)
Next game: Saturday vs. Louisiana Tech (Conference USA championship)​

Next five: Utah, Minnesota, Nebraska, USC, Duke

• STAPLES: What have we learned about the playoff so far?

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