The four best teams vs. the four most deserving teams.

An emphasis on strength of schedule or an emphasis on remaining unbeatens.

Will non-Power 5s get any love whatsoever?

The College Football Playoff selection committee’s inaugural rankings will at least partially answer plenty of questions as college football comes full circle.

The new tournament-style national championship replaces the oft-criticized BCS formula that used both humans (polls) and computers (formulas) to select the nation’s best teams for postseason matchups including the national title game.

Now, computers have been eliminated from the equation, creating even more subjectivity.

RELATED: College Football Playoff threat level: Oregon, FSU top non-SEC teams

The 12-member selection committee’s final pairings are released on Dec. 7 with supposed transparency and no personal bias. The most likely points of emphasis for the next five weeks are as follows :

  • Conference championships won
  • Strength of schedule
  • Head-to-head competition
  • Comparing results against common opponents
  • Relative factors that may have altered a team’s performance (injuries)

Making an educated guess based on those factors stated by the CFP committee, here’s how we expect the first Top 10 to look Tuesday night. The current AP and Coaches Polls aren’t supposed to impact the panel’s final tally, but we believe they will (at least somewhat):

  1. Mississippi State
  2. Florida State
  3. Oregon
  4. Alabama
  5. Michigan State
  6. Auburn
  7. Ole Miss
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Georgia
  10. TCU

Creeping into the mind of committee members, let’s take a look at how we arrived at our projection based on the five factors that will greatly impact their initial rankings on Tuesday:

Conference championship potential

Since there’s still the season’s home stretch to play before determining both Power 5 and non-Power 5 league champions, this one’s just a guess from the committee based on results up to this point and a team’s remaining slate. Considering a team like Marshall is unbeaten against league competition by an average margin of 29.5 points per game, one could assume the Thundering Herd’s an easy pick (a team like East Carolina, too). Margin of victory’s no longer a factor in determining a team’s strength per the CFP’s guidelines, but it certainly helps when projecting a team’s finish in conference play.

Who it helps: Michigan State, Oregon, Florida State, Marshall, East Carolina, Mississippi State, Georgia

Who it hurts: Oklahoma, LSU, Clemson, second-best SEC team (at season’s end)

Takeaways: The champion of the SEC, a league with five current Top 10 teams, is too difficult to project considering all five contenders have one loss or fewer, but Mississippi State — one of three FBS remaining unbeatens — gets the nod at this point considering the Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 … Florida State, Michigan State and Oregon are heavy favorites to win out as conference champions … It appears that Georgia has a great Playoff opportunity if the Bulldogs win in Atlanta during the first weekend of December … Even if Georgia falls to Auburn in two weeks, a two-loss SEC champion would be difficult to overlook if the committee’s places a heavy emphasis on a league championship.

Strength of schedule

One of the single-most important factors used in determining order during the BCS era was strength of schedule, but how much emphasis will it have this season? Here’s where the widely-used ‘SEC bias’ terminology comes into play considering the league’s current dominance in the polls. Each committee member is aware of the conference’s stranglehold nationally and will take that into account when casting their individual private ballots. If we’re talking best teams, the committee would be hard-pressed not to include at least two from the SEC at this point in the season. Wins over nationally-ranked teams, an element the SEC dominates, counts for brownie points.

Who it helps: Auburn, Oregon, Mississippi State, Alabama, Ole Miss

Who it hurts: Big Ten contenders, Marshall, East Carolina, Florida State

Takeaways: Widely-regarded as the nation’s most competitive conference, teams in the SEC will likely be judged in a different light than the rest of college football considering the season-long meat grinder of a schedule its contenders must deal with … Auburn also stepped outside the conference in September and beat Kansas State, currently the Wildcats’ only loss … Even if Marshall finishes 13-0 with a conference championship game win, it likely won’t matter based on the overall lack of quality teams on its schedules … Should Florida State fall before bowl season, the Seminoles could be left out of the Playoff despite a non-conference win over Notre Dame.

Head to head outcomes

We don’t always get to see elites square off during the regular season, but college football’s had its fair share of heavyweight matchups already this fall. Non-conference showdowns featuring nationally-ranked competition often gives us an early Playoff glimpse sans the neutral field. Winning those ‘spotlight’ games puts those teams on a different pedestal in terms of comparative strength at the end of the season.

Who it helps: Florida State, Oregon, Mississippi State, Baylor, remaining SEC contenders

Who it hurts: Michigan State, Big 12 contenders, LSU

Takeaways: Florida State’s recent win over Notre Dame and Oregon’s early-season victory over Michigan State were resume boosters for the Seminoles and Ducks in the eyes of the selection committee, especially if all four of those teams finish with matching one-loss records … Baylor’s come-from-behind shootout win over TCU (the Horned Frogs’ only loss) on Oct. 11 is the Big 12’s biggest win this season (in-conference), but an SEC-like case of cannibalism may set in the rest of the way with several nationally-ranked showdowns involving the league’s five ranked teams.

Common opponent results

Determining team strength using the transitive property can make your head spin, but it’s much easier to interpret when breaking it down logically. Mississippi State’s three biggest wins this season all came against nationally-ranked teams from within its own division. That we know. Should another SEC contender finish with the same record as the Bulldogs, record against common opponents comes into play and Dan Mullen’s team likely owns in that regard.

Who it helps: Mississippi State, TCU, Oregon

Who it hurts: Big 12 contenders, Michigan State (Oregon loss), Georgia (South Carolina loss)

Takeaways: Georgia gets a chance on Nov. 15 to post a momentum-changing win over Auburn, one that would surely boost its overall worth within the selection committee and help the Bulldogs bury a September loss in Columbia, S.C. … Michigan State failed in its only chance this season to post a win over a Top 5 team at Oregon in Week 2 … Those opportunities are few and far between in the top-heavy Big Ten.

Relevant factors including injuries

The strangest factor used to determine CFP participants may be the injury bug. Selection committee members could theoretically throw out a one-loss team’s only blemish if a key player did not play in the game. Imagine the uproar if we find out that’s what separates a one-loss Oregon from say, a one-loss defending champion Florida State at season’s end.

Who it helps: Ohio State, Oregon

Who it hurts: Arizona, contender that suffers significant late-season injury

Takeaways: Both of these elites’ only loss came when a standout player on offense missed the game. Preseason Heisman candidate Braxton Miller did not play during the Buckeyes’ home loss to Virginia Tech in Week 2 … Oregon’s depleted offensive line led to an upset loss in Autzen to Arizona in September, but the Ducks have fired on all cylinders offensively since returning to full strength over the last three games … That win for the Wildcats won’t look as good if the committee downgrades Oregon’s defeat in the matchup due to personnel losses.