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College football preview: What will first playoff selection committee poll reveal?

The 13-member panel will release the first CFP rankings on Tuesday night, the first of six weekly lists leading to the Dec. 2 announcement of the four playoff teams.

Where will LSU be in the first College Football Playoff rankings?
Where will LSU be in the first College Football Playoff rankings?Read moreTYLER KAUFMAN / AP

This is the weekend you've all been waiting for, and we're not talking about the Eagles' being across the pond to play what the English call "American football."

We're talking about the last weekend of college football games before the 13-member College Football Playoff selection committee convenes in advance of its first poll of the 2018 season, which will be released Tuesday.

The committee is chaired this year by Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, who will lead the discussion among his committee colleagues with experience as coaches, athletes, administrators, directors of athletics, and media members.

A new top-25 ranking will be released on the next five Tuesdays before the final list is released Dec. 2, after the end of conference championship games. That's when the four playoff teams and participants in New Year's bowls will be announced.

Of course, the mystery is how much the committee members weigh certain criteria. Mullens told ESPN last month that strength of schedule matters and that the goal when it's all said and done is to pick the four best teams, not the four hottest teams at the time.

And remember: The committee's top four in the year's initial ranking have never been the same as its final one.

Road peril

It's an unconventional football weekend in that 13 ranked teams have played or will be playing on the road, while three others will be competing at neutral sites.

Two road teams – Iowa (at Penn State) and Washington State (at Stanford) – are playing another ranked opponent. Three Top 25 teams are road underdogs against unranked opponents: Texas A&M (at Mississippi State), Kentucky (at Missouri) and South Florida (at Houston).

Georgia and Florida, both in the top 10, are meeting at their customary site in Jacksonville in what remains "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party." Notre Dame takes to the road to meet Navy in San Diego, its first of two West Coast trips in a five-week period (at Southern California on Nov. 24).

Three members of the top five – No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 Louisiana State, No. 5 Michigan – have the weekend off. The Crimson Tide and Tigers will clash next Saturday in the SEC regular-season game of the year, and the Wolverines will host Penn State.

They need a timeout

The childish weekend antics between coaches Jim Harbaugh of Michigan and Marc Dantonio of Michigan State ended Tuesday (we think), when Dantonio decided he wasn't going to continue the spitting match between the two.

"The first thing I'm going to say about this, I'm not going to have any more comments about the situation," he said at his weekly news conference. "I've made my comments. So I'll take no other questions about that and we'll get on with Purdue."

So, at his weekly news conference, Harbaugh got in the last word against the Michigan State players who linked arms from sideline to sideline and marched through an area where the Wolverines were warming up.

"To call that unsportsmanlike or to call that bush-league is putting it mildly," Harbaugh said. "That could have been a real unfortunate incident."

The Big Ten levied a $10,000 fine against Michigan State for violation of the conference's sportsmanship policy. The conference also reprimanded both coaches as well as Michigan safety Devin Bush, who scuffed up the Spartans logo at midfield.

Gators on the move

Dan Mullen is no stranger to the Florida-Georgia rivalry, having served as the Gators' offensive coordinator a decade ago. But he's clearly excited to be back on the sideline in Jacksonville for his first game in the rivalry as head coach.

The Gators' offense has shown gradual improvement since the team's loss to Kentucky. The unit is well balanced between the run and the pass. Sophomore Feleipe Franks has thrown for 15 touchdowns.

"What I'm most pleased with is how our team has kind of bought in to what we're trying to do," Mullen, an Ursinus College graduate, said in an AP story. "Honestly, I think that results have helped that buy-in. When you look, they're acting like a football team. They're playing hard. They're giving great effort. They're seeing how practice translates to games."

Cougars rolling

Don't look now, but the only Pac-12 team with one loss isn't Washington, or Stanford, or Southern California. It's Washington State, the team that passes, and then passes some more.

The Cougars, who posted a statement win last week over Oregon, have thrown 375 passes and lead the nation with 400.7 yards per game through the air. However, they are next-to-last with 72.6 rushing yards per game on a total of 150 carries.

Now they hope to keep pace in the Pac-12 North on Saturday at Stanford.

"We want to be in a position where we can control our own destiny," said quarterback Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer who is on a streak of seven 300-yard passing games. "We don't want to have to be sitting back and waiting to see what somebody else does."

Expatriate of the week

Dillon DeIuliis, a Yardley resident who graduated from St. Joseph's Prep, is one of the leaders of a Colgate defense that has not allowed a touchdown in five straight games. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior linebacker is second on the Raiders in tackles with 38, and third in tackles for loss with six.

Games of the week

Clemson at Florida State, noon, 6ABC: The Tigers remained a frontrunner for the College Football Playoff last week behind freshman Trevor Lawrence, who threw for a career-high 308 yards against North Carolina State. The Seminoles begin a brutal stretch that might prevent them from becoming bowl eligible.

Purdue at Michigan State, noon, ESPN: The Boilermakers posted arguably the biggest upset of the 2018 season, a dominating win over Ohio State. Can they do it again? You know the Spartans are going to be somewhat fired up after last week's embarrassing loss to Michigan, when they gained just 94 yards.

Georgia vs. Florida at Jacksonville, Fla., 3:30 p.m. CBS3: The team that can establish its ground game should have an advantage, and the Bulldogs are helped by the likely return of D'Andre Swift (St. Joseph's Prep) from a sprained ankle. This is the first time both teams are ranked in the top 10 since 2008.

Washington State at Stanford, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network: The Cougars were a national sensation last week between their College GameDay closeup and a convincing win over Oregon. Now they take on the Cardinal in a game matching two of the three one-loss teams in the Pac-12 North.

Notre Dame vs. Navy at San Diego, 8 p.m., CBS3: The Fighting Irish have their eyes on a College Football Playoff berth as they take on the Midshipmen for the 92nd time. Last week's bye gave them extra time to prepare for the triple-option offense of Navy, a team they've split with the last two years.

Star watch

Travis Etienne, Clemson, RB, 5-10, 200, So., Jennings, La.

Although he rushed for a season-low 39 yards in 15 carries last week, Etienne scored three touchdowns in a game for the third consecutive week in the Tigers' victory over North Carolina State. That gave him 14 rushing touchdowns this season and 15 total TDs, both figures tying him for first place in FBS. Etienne has rushed for 800 yards and a 114.3-yard average (eighth in the nation), and his 8.16-yard average per carry on the ground is second nationally.