FSU, Alabama among those who face challenges on road to college football's Final Four

Which top-10 teams have the toughest path to College Football Playoff spots?

The path to the College Football Playoff is a winding road and there are still twists and turns that need to be maneuvered before we find out who will make the final four.

Take a closer look at the 10 teams in the playoff picture and the potential obstacles they face the rest of this season:

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Rest of schedule: vs. UT Martin (Nov. 8); at Alabama (Nov. 15); vs. Vanderbilt (Nov. 22); at Ole Miss (Nov. 29)

The Buzz: Mississippi State's needs to win tough games on road, with key matchups versus Alabama and Ole Miss loom. Win the SEC and you're a shoe-in for the final four.

FLORIDA STATE

Rest of schedule: vs. Virginia (Nov. 8); at Miami (Nov. 15); vs. Boston College (Nov. 22); vs. Florida (Nov. 29)

The Buzz: The knock on Florida State has been its schedule and with no truly marquee games remaining, the 'Noles have to remain undefeated and hope winning the ACC is enough to impress the selection committee.

•AUBURN

Rest of schedule: vs. Texas A&M (Nov. 8); at Georgia (Nov. 15); vs. Samford (Nov. 22); at Alabama (Nov. 29)

The Buzz: Auburn's résumé is good enough to keep it in the playoff mix, but any hope of making the final four hinges on beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

•OREGON

Rest of schedule: at Utah (Nov. 8); vs. Colorado (Nov. 22); at Oregon State (Nov. 29)

The Buzz: The Ducks maybe the best one-loss team in the country, but they'll have to hope a Pac-12 title will carry enough weight with the selection committee.

TCU

Rest of schedule: vs. Kansas State (Nov. 8); at Kansas (Nov. 15); at Texas (Nov. 27); vs. Iowa State (Dec. 6)

The Buzz: The Horned Frogs need to beat Kansas State and then hope the Wildcats can topple Baylor, giving TCU a clear path to the Big 12 title and potentially a playoff spot.

ALABAMA

Rest of schedule: at LSU (Nov. 8); vs. No. 1 Mississippi State (Nov. 15); vs. West Carolina (Nov. 22); vs. Auburn (Nov. 29)

The Buzz: You should never count out Nick Saban, but Alabama has the toughest path to the final four. If 'Bama wins out in the brutal SEC West, they'll lock in a playoff spot.

MICHIGAN STATE

Rest of schedule: vs. Ohio State (Nov. 8); at Maryland (Nov. 15); vs. Rutgers (Nov. 22); at Penn State (Nov. 29)

The Buzz: The Big Ten shot at earning a playoff spot rests on the shoulders of Sparty. Michigan State needs to beat Ohio State, win the conference title and pray for some help.

KANSAS STATE

Rest of schedule: at TCU (Nov. 8); at West Virginia (Nov. 20); vs. Kansas (Nov. 29); at Baylor (Dec. 6)

The Buzz: Unlike TCU, Kansas State may have enough on its plate to present the selection committee with an interesting choice — especially if the Wildcats win the Big 12 by beating TCU and Baylor.

NOTRE DAME

Rest of schedule: at Arizona State (Nov. 8); vs. Northwestern (Nov. 15); vs. Louisville (Nov. 22); at USC (Nov. 29)

The Buzz: Notre Dame is on the outside looking in of the playoff talk, checking in miles away from the top four at No. 10 in the first round of rankings. The Fighting Irish need to win out and hope it's enough to impress the selection committee.

•ARIZONA STATE

Rest of schedule: vs. Notre Dame (Nov. 8); at Oregon State (Nov. 15); vs. Washington State (Nov. 22); at Arizona (Nov. 28)

The Buzz: Arizona State is my dark horse to get into the playoff. The Sun Devils may have enough quality opponents left on the schedule and a possible Pac-12 title to help push them into final four.

mmurschel@orlandosentinel.com

List of bowl-eligible teams grows

The number of bowl-eligible teams rose this week from 32 to 45. If all the eligible teams were awarded bids, there would 31 remaining spots for the 38 possible bowl games. The Southeastern Conference continues to lead the way with eight bowl-eligible teams followed by the ACC (7), Big Ten (7), Pac-12 (6), Big 12 (5), Mountain West (4), MAC (3) and C-USA (2). Every other league has one bowl-eligible team. On the flip side, there are now 14 teams that were eliminated from bowl consideration: SMU (AAC), Tulsa (AAC), UMass (MAC), Miami of Ohio (MAC), Kent State (MAC), Eastern Michigan (MAC), Hawaii (MWC), UNLV (MWC), Washington State (Pac-12), Colorado (Pac-12), New Mexico State (Sun Belt), Troy (Sun Belt), Georgia State (Sun Belt) and NCAA-sanctioned Idaho (Sun Belt).

Duke tabbed to win ACC

Duke was the preseason favorites to win the ACC men's basketball title, according to a poll of select media members. The Blue Devils received 41 first-place votes, followed by North Carolina (12), Louisville (3), Virginia (7) and Syracuse (2). Florida State was tabbed to finish eighth, while Miami was 10th. North Carolina junior guard Marcus Paige was named the league's preseason player of the year.

Etc.

USF reached a deal with Georgia Tech for a home-and-home series starting in 2021 and 2022. The Bulls will travel to Atlanta to take on the Yellow Jackets on Sept. 11, 2021 with Georgia Tech traveling to Tampa on Sept. 10, 2022. It's the first time the two programs have met and is the latest addition to USF's nonconference schedule that includes Florida State (2015, 2016), Wisconsin (2017), Illinois (2017, 2018), Maryland (2015), Syracuse (2015, 2016) and Texas (2019, 2022, 2024).

•The University of California will play Auburn in 2019 and 2020 after the two schools reached a deal for home-and-home matchups. Cal will travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 21, 2019m with the Tigers returning the favor on Sept. 19, 2020.

•The University of Kentucky gave Mark Stoops a contract extension that could keep the second-year coach in Lexington through 2019. The Wildcats are 7-14 under Stoops, including a 5-4 record this season, and are on the verge of becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010.

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