From now through the Dec. 15 issue SI's college football insider will assess which teams should make the final four. Last week: Florida State, Mississippi State, Oregon, TCU
1 FLORIDA STATE
Quarterback Jameis Winston threw two picks in a 34--20 win over Virginia and has six in the last three games. "Make smarter decisions, stop always looking for the big play," Winston instructed himself as the Seminoles prepped for a trip to Miami.
Alabama probably won't play a better defense than it did in its 20--13 OT win over LSU. While the Tide will face better offenses, they should be able to keep pace thanks to their many offensive weapons and the growing confidence of quarterback Blake Sims.
2 MISSISSIPPI STATE
The Bulldogs warmed up for Bama by whipping Tennessee-Martin 45--16 in Starkville. This week they'll fight for a place in the playoff in Tuscaloosa. A loss won't necessarily knock MSU out, but a win would give it the cleanest path of anyone but Florida State.
The Ducks should have little trouble against Colorado and Oregon State, but a matchup with the Pac-12 South champ looms on Dec. 5. If an undisclosed left-leg injury to center Hroniss Grasu lingers, the Ducks could struggle in the finale.
DON JUAN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES (WINSTON)
JASON PARKHURST FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (SIMS)
ROGELIO V. SOLIS/AP (PRESCOTT)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (FREEMAN)