TCU? Ohio State? Baylor? It’s anyone’s best guess which of those three teams the committee will hand the last of the four playoff bids to on Sunday, so I’m basically taking a cop-out and leaving my order the same as it was last week. Ohio State and Baylor miss the cut and go to the Peach and Cotton Bowls, respectively.
I’m also taking a gamble that Arizona remains high enough to land an at-large berth despite its lopsided Pac-12 title game loss. It helps the Wildcats, seventh last week, that the No. 9 (Kansas State) and No. 11 (Georgia Tech) teams lost too.
If the SEC does in fact place three teams in the New Year’s Six as I have projected here, it has a trickle-down effect on the rest of the conference’s bowls. And if the Big Ten only gets two — but if one of those is Michigan State in the Orange Bowl — it gives up its spot in the Citrus Bowl to the ACC and may wind up with one team left out.
Oklahoma State’s upset win Saturday over Oklahoma made for a final pool of 81 eligible teams competing for 76 spots. The unlucky ones left out: Ohio, Temple, Texas State, Middle Tennessee and, sadly, UAB.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF BOWLS
Ohio State (Big Ten champion) vs. Mississippi State (at-large)
Arizona (at-large) vs. Boise State (Group of 5)
Georgia Tech (ACC) vs. Michigan State (SEC/B1G/ND)
Baylor (at-large) vs. Ole Miss (at-large)
Oregon (CFP No. 2) vs. Florida State (CFP No. 3)
Alabama (CFP No. 1) vs. TCU (CFP No. 4)
New Orleans, La.
Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt) vs. Nevada (MWC)
Utah State (MWC) vs. UTEP (C-USA)
Las Vegas, Nev.
Colorado State (MWC No. 1) vs. Utah (Pac-12 No. 6)
Air Force (MWC) vs. Bowling Green (MAC)
South Alabama (Sun Belt) vs. Central Michigan (MAC)
Memphis (American) vs. BYU (BYU)
Boca Raton, Fla.
Marshall (C-USA) vs. Toledo (MAC)
San Diego, Calif.
San Diego State (MWC) vs. Navy (Navy)
Western Michigan (MAC) vs. Western Kentucky (C-USA)
Fresno State (MWC) vs. Rice (C-USA)
Heart of Dallas
Maryland (B1G Nos. 8-9) vs. Louisiana Tech (C-USA)
Rutgers (B1G Nos. 8-9) vs. North Carolina (ACC Nos. 7-9)
St. Petersburg, Fla.
UCF (American) vs. Miami (ACC No. 10)
Pittsburgh (ACC Nos. 8-10) vs. East Carolina (American)
El Paso, Texas
Boston College (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Arizona St. (Pac-12 No. 5)
Virginia Tech (ACC Nos. 7-9) vs. Florida (SEC Nos. 9-10)
Duke (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Penn State (B1G Nos. 5-7)
San Diego, Calif.
UCLA (Pac-12 No. 3) vs. Wisconsin (B1G Nos. 2-4)
Tennessee (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. West Virginia (Big 12 No. 5)
Georgia (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. NC State (ACC Nos. 4-7)
Santa Clara, Calif.
Stanford (Pac-12 No. 4) vs. Nebraska (B1G Nos. 5-7)
Missouri (SEC No. 2) vs. Clemson (ACC No. 2)
Minnesota (B1G Nos. 2-4) vs. Auburn (SEC Nos. 3-8)
Fort Worth, Texas
Houston (American) vs. Illinois* (Army/Big 12 No. 7)
LSU(SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Iowa (B1G Nos. 5-7)
San Antonio, Texas
Kansas State (Big 12 No. 2) vs. USC (Pac-12 No. 2)
Oklahoma State (Big 12 No. 6) vs. Washington (Pac-12 No. 7)
Cincinnati (American) vs. South Carolina (SEC Nos. 9-10)
Northern Illinois (MAC No. 1) vs. Arkansas State (Sun Belt)
Teams in bold have officially accepted a bid.
* — Replacement for a conference without enough eligible teams.
Stewart Mandel is a senior college sports columnist for FOXSports.com. He covered college football and basketball for 15 years at Sports Illustrated. His new book, “The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the College Football Playoff,” is now available on Amazon. You can follow him on Twitter @slmandel. Send emails and Mailbag questions to Stewart.Mandel@fox.com.