Mississippi State’s 25-20 loss to Alabama in Week 12 dropped the Bulldogs to the ranks of the nation’s one-loss teams. After unbeaten Florida State there are six one-loss teams left among the power five conferences (including Alabama and Mississippi State), all competing for three spots behind FSU in the College Football Playoff this winter.

The CFP selection committee will release an updated set of rankings Tuesday night, giving some indication of who they think are the top 4 teams in America following Mississippi State’s loss.

Here are five reasons the Bulldogs deserve to remain in the top 4 of the CFP Poll following last Saturday’s loss in Tuscaloosa:

1. Mississippi State has the best loss of the one-loss teams. One of the easiest ways to compare the one-loss teams is to compare each team’s loss. Mississippi State’s loss — a five-point defeat on the road at the hands of a top 5 Alabama team on its way to a playoff berth — is far and away the highest-quality loss of any team in consideration for a playoff spot.

Ohio State lost to a Virginia Tech team currently sitting at 5-5 on the year and 2-4 in the ACC. TCU lost to Baylor after leading by 21 in the fourth quarter. Baylor lost by two touchdowns to unranked West Virginia. Oregon lost at home to unranked Arizona.

The only one-loss team whose loss is even comparable to Mississippi State’s is, ironically, Alabama, which lost on the road to No. 10 Ole Miss in one of the most electric atmospheres of the college football season.

No one is arguing Alabama doesn’t deserve a top 4 spot, and if Mississippi State gets into the playoff it will likely be as the second SEC team in the field behind the Tide. But because Mississippi State’s loss is so much more respectable than everyone else’s, it deserves a leg-up on the rest of the field competing for postseason bids.

2. The Bulldogs strength of schedule is greater than most other playoff contenders. The CFP selection committee has made it clear it values body of work when considering which teams deserve spots in the top 4, and strength of schedule has a huge influence on a team’s body of work.

Through four weeks this season, allowing the experts a month to assess which teams would be formidable this year and which wouldn’t, the ESPN Football Power Index ranked Mississippi State’s final eight games as the 23rd toughest remaining schedule in the nation. Among FSU and the six one-loss teams, MSU ranked third in strength of schedule.

If body of work truly does matter, Mississippi State deserves to be rewarded for its work in the hyper-competitive SEC West.

3. Mississippi State has been one of the best road teams in the country this year. The Bulldogs have played on the road four times this year, including their loss to Alabama, and they’ve won their three road games by an average margin of 17 points per game.

Mississippi State took down LSU at night in Death Valley, marking just LSU’s third home loss at night in Les Miles’ 10 seasons in Baton Rouge. The Bulldogs won their other two road games by a combined 46 points, and their road loss to Alabama is as respectable as any loss by any team in any location this season.

Alabama is now 5-0 at home this year, and it won its other four road games by an average margin of more than 40 points per game. The Tide beat Mississippi State by just five points at home last week.

Home-field advantage won’t exist in the College Football Playoff, and Mississippi State has proven this year that it can play as well away from home as it has in Starkville. That should go a long way toward earning a one-loss MSU team a spot in Tuesday’s top 4.

4. The Bulldogs have more style points than any other one-loss team. It wasn’t just that Mississippi State opened the year 6-0 when it took on the nation’s No. 1 ranking five weeks ago, but it was how it opened the season.

Again, Mississippi State beat Les Miles and LSU in Death Valley at night, something only two other teams had done in a span of 10 years and more than 65 games. It led the Tigers by as many as three touchdowns in the fourth quarter before taking its foot off the gas, leaving no doubt as to who the better team was that night.

The next week it routed Texas A&M, and led by as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter of that one-sided game. The week after that it led then-unbeaten Auburn by 21 points less than 10 minutes into the game.

In three straight wins before that stretch, Mississippi State won each game by an average margin of more than 31 points per game. In three straight wins after that stretch, it won by an average margin of 16 points per game against stiffer competition.

Aside from the loss to Alabama and a tough test from now-surging Arkansas, Mississippi State has made quick work of most of its opponents this year, earning more style points than any other one-loss team in America. It certainly never had a game like TCU did last week against Kansas or like Ohio State did in an overtime win against a mediocre Penn State team.

Mississippi State deserves to be rewarded for how its won this year, and not just for its one-loss record.

5. The SEC deserves two playoff teams this season. The SEC has been the nation’s best conference all season, and there’s plenty of evidence to back that up. Eight different SEC teams have been ranked in the top 10 in the country at some point this season. Nine different SEC teams have been ranked somewhere in the top 25 at some point in the year. The SEC has six teams ranked in this week’s Associated Press Poll, tied for the most from any one conference in America.

The SEC deserves to send both of its one-loss teams to the playoff if they both end the year with just one loss. No other conference has done more to prepare its teams for the postseason. Surviving an SEC schedule with just one loss proves both Alabama and Mississippi State are capable of handling any other elite teams from the other power conferences when the season winds to a close.

Isn’t that what the selection committee wants out of its CFP field? Doesn’t it want to know those four teams can handle the big stage the inaugural playoff will provide?

The SEC’s elite have done more to prove they can handle that stage than the top teams from any other conference. Conference titles deserve to be rewarded, but just because Ohio State wins the Big Ten doesn’t mean its better prepared for the playoff than a one-loss MSU team left out of the SEC title game behind Alabama.

Not all conferences are created equal, and the SEC deserves to send two one-loss teams to the playoff, even though one of them (likely Mississippi State) won’t get to play for a conference title.