Bowl projections: Alabama, FSU, Oregon, TCU will play for title
A couple of mild surprises in Tuesday night’s selection committee rankings prompted me to completely blow up my projected lineup from earlier in the week. A quick explanation of version 2.0:
* While TCU moved ahead of Florida State for No. 3, I believe they’ll flip back next week if the ‘Noles beat No. 11 Georgia Tech. At this point, however, I’m much more doubtful that Baylor, who I previously had No. 4, is going to displace the Horned Frogs.
* It now appears the Big Ten, not the SEC, is going to face the ACC in the Orange Bowl, and in fact the matchup is almost certain to be Georgia Tech (win or lose Saturday) against Michigan State (provided Alabama beats Missouri). I believe the committee will drop Ohio State behind the Spartans if they lose to Wisconsin with backup QB Cardale Jones.
* The ripple effects of that development are that Mississippi State, which I had in the Orange Bowl, would move to the Peach Bowl; and that the Big Ten would place three teams in New Year’s Six bowls but lose its spot in the Citrus Bowl to the ACC (as per that contract). Which means I then had to adjust almost every other ACC selection below that.
* Finally, I originally had Ole Miss, not Ohio State, as the last at-large team, but the gap between the No. 5 Buckeyes and No. 12 Rebels is larger than I expected so I put Ohio State back in. Which means I had to adjust several SEC selections as well.
Damn you, committee.
If you’re truly interested in learning how your favorite team will get placed where this week I encourage you to read my Selection Sunday primer. As I learned in the course of reporting it, the ACC’s, Big Ten’s and SEC’s new conference-controlled selection process hold such wide latitude that a league’s 9-3 team could wind up where you’d normally expect to see a 6-6 team or vice versa.
Finally, I’m projecting 80 eligible teams for 76 spots. The unlucky ones left out: Ohio, Texas State, Temple and, unfortunately, UAB.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF BOWLS
|Dec. 31||Peach||Atlanta||Ohio State (at-large) vs. Mississippi State (at-large)|
|Dec. 31||Fiesta||Glendale, Arizona||Arizona (at-large) vs. Boise State (Group of 5)|
|Dec. 31||Orange||Miami||Georgia Tech (ACC) vs. Michigan State (SEC/B1G/ND)|
|Jan. 1||Cotton||Arlington, Texas||Baylor (at-large) vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten champ)|
|Jan. 1||Rose||Pasadena, California||Oregon (CFP No. 2) vs. Florida State (CFP No. 3)|
|Jan. 1||Sugar||New Orleans||Alabama (CFP No. 1) vs. TCU (CFP No. 4)|
|Dec. 20||New Orleans||New Orleans, La.||Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt) vs. Middle Tennessee* (MWC)|
|Dec. 20||New Mexico||Albuquerque, N.M.||Nevada (MWC) vs. UTEP (C-USA)|
|Dec. 20||Las Vegas||Las Vegas, Nev.||Colorado State (MWC No. 1) vs. Utah (Pac-12 No. 6)|
|Dec. 20||Idaho Potato||Boise, Idaho||Air Force (MWC) vs. Western Michigan (MAC)|
|Dec. 20||Camellia||Montgomery, Ala.||South Alabama (Sun Belt) vs. Central Michigan (MAC)|
|Dec. 22||Miami Beach||Miami, Fla.||Memphis (American) vs. BYU (BYU)|
|Dec. 23||Boca Raton||Boca Raton, Fla.||Marshall (C-USA) vs. Toledo (MAC)|
|Dec. 23||Poinsettia||San Diego, Calif.||San Diego State (MWC) vs. Navy (Navy)|
|Dec. 24||Bahamas||Nassau, Bahamas||Bowling Green (MAC) vs. Western Kentucky (C-USA)|
|Dec. 24||Hawaii||Honolulu, Hawaii||Fresno State (MWC) vs. Rice (C-USA)|
|Dec. 26||Heart of Dallas||Dallas, Texas||Illinois (B1G) vs. Louisiana Tech (C-USA)|
|Dec. 26||Quick Lane||Detroit, Mich.||Rutgers (B1G Nos. 8-9) vs. North Carolina (ACC Nos. 7-9)|
|Dec. 26||St. Petersburg||St. Petersburg, Fla.||UCF (American) vs. Miami (ACC No. 10)|
|Dec. 27||Military||Annapolis, Md.||Pittsburgh (ACC Nos. 8-10) vs. East Carolina (American)|
|Dec. 27||Sun||El Paso, Texas||Boston College (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Arizona St. (Pac-12 No. 5)|
|Dec. 27||Independence||Shreveport, La.||Virginia Tech (ACC Nos. 7-9) vs. Texas A&M (SEC Nos. 9-10)|
|Dec. 27||Pinstripe||Bronx, N.Y.||Duke (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Penn State (B1G)|
|Dec. 27||Holiday||San Diego, Calif.||USC (Pac-12 No. 3) vs. Iowa (B1G)|
|Dec. 29||Liberty||Memphis, Tenn.||Tennessee (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. West Virginia (Big 12 No. 5)|
|Dec. 29||Russell Athletic||Orlando, Fla.||Kansas State (Big 12 No. 3) vs. Louisville (ACC No. 3)|
|Dec. 29||Texas||Houston, Texas||Arkansas (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Texas (Big 12 No. 4)|
|Dec. 30||Music City||Nashville, Tenn.||LSU (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Notre Dame (ACC Nos. 4-7)|
|Dec. 30||Belk||Charlotte, N.C.||Georgia (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. NC State (ACC Nos. 4-7)|
|Dec. 30||Foster Farms||Santa Clara, Calif.||Stanford (Pac-12 No. 4) vs. Nebraska (B1G)|
|Jan. 1||Citrus||Orlando, Fla.||Ole Miss (SEC No. 2) vs. Clemson (ACC No. 2)|
|Jan. 1||Outback||Tampa, Fla.||Minnesota (B1G Nos. 2-4) vs. Missouri (SEC Nos. 3-8)|
|Jan. 2||Armed Forces||Fort Worth, Texas||Houston (American) vs. Florida* (Army/Big 12 No. 7)|
|Jan. 2||TaxSlayer||Jacksonville, Fla.||Auburn (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Maryland (B1G Nos. 5-7)|
|Jan. 2||Alamo||San Antonio, Texas||Oklahoma (Big 12 No. 2) vs. UCLA (Pac-12 No. 2)|
|Jan. 2||Cactus||Tempe, Ariz.||Utah State vs. Washington (Pac-12 No. 7)|
|Jan. 3||Birmingham||Birmingham, Alab.||Cincinnati (American) vs. South Carolina (SEC Nos. 9-10)|
|Jan. 4||GoDaddy||Mobile, Alab.||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.
** — Notre Dame is eligible for any ACC bowl as long as it’s within one win of the highest available ACC team.
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.