This week's ballot for the Athlon Sports mock playoff poll:
1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
6. Notre Dame
7. Kansas State
8. Arizona State
*If you look at some of the leading computer metrics, they point to the same conclusion that most of us seem to have reached about this season: The teams in the upper stratosphere are so close.
*I'm sticking with Mississippi St. at No. 1 based on body of work for now. With trips to Alabama and Ole Miss still on the docket, I would put their chances of actually making the playoff as being pretty low at this point.
*I've talked in the past about the high amount of volatility in my rankings from week to week. Take Oregon as a case in point. I've long thought the Ducks were one of the four or five best teams in the country, but they jumped from out of my top eight into the top four this week as contenders such as Arizona and Ole Miss fell by the wayside.
*I feel very confident that we can write off Notre Dame if the Fighting Irish lose to ASU this weekend. Although ND has a quality loss, its best wins – Stanford, Michigan and... North Carolina? – don't look so hot at the moment.
*The winner of Ohio State-Michigan State has a chance to make up some serious ground in next week's rankings. Same goes for TCU-Kansas St.