Remember when Alabama's rematch against LSU in 2011 contributed to the death of the BCS and the formation of the College Football Playoff? And then Alabama's 2012 loss to Texas A&M meant the Tide were totally out of the BCS race, except they were back to No. 2 just 14 days later? And how it took the most amazing moment in college football history to put away Bama last year?
That same zombie elephant figure is once again on the horizon.
Alabama's loss to Ole Miss a few weeks ago is now nothing more than a thing to argue about. The Tide ranked No. 4 in the AP entering Saturday, behind those Rebels, and then those Rebels lost at LSU. Bama now ranks well ahead of Ole Miss in the Coaches, and we've yet to have evidence the committee will think much differently.
While we can disagree about which of them should rank higher, the fact remains that it's hard for a team to have more control over its destiny than Bama has now. That's based off an SEC West schedule, a quality out-of-conference win against potential Big 12 champion West Virginia, a quality loss in Oxford, and the Alabama brand name.
That's why, at the moment, the unkillable Tide move back into the top of the projections. For now.
College Football Playoff
|Rose||No. 2 Alabama||No. 3 Michigan State||1/1/2015||Pasadena, CA|
|Sugar||No. 1 Florida State||No. 4 Oregon||1/1/2015||New Orleans, LA|
Blessings once again on FSU for making the top spot simple. The rest of the Noles' schedule continues to look tougher than expected, which could be fortunate if an upset strikes, but at the moment, I still have FSU reaching 13-0.
The SEC's champion will rank No. 2 at worst. Whether that team's Alabama, a Mississippi school, Georgia, or someone else, that's just the way it is.
Nos. 3 and 4 hold steady. Michigan State finally played a complete game and now gets a week off before its most crucial test, a home game against Ohio State. The Ducks' defense remains a major concern, but they'll likely only play one good offense from here on out, in the Pac-12 title game.
Next week, we'll be able to adjust based on any surprises in the committee's first set of rankings. But I still expect conference champions to be heavy favorites for all four spots, at least in the Playoff's first year. The committee wants to show it's not the 2011 BCS all over again.
The rest of the New Year's Six
|Cotton||TCU||Ole Miss||1/1/2015||Arlington, TX||At-large|
|Fiesta||Colorado State||Ohio State||12/31/2014||Glendale, AZ||At-large|
|Orange||Duke||Mississippi State||12/31/2014||Miami, FL||ACC 1 vs. Big Ten/Notre Dame/SEC|
|Peach||Notre Dame||Georgia||12/31/2014||Atlanta, GA||At-large|
Two changes this week: Ole Miss and Alabama trade spots, and Colorado State's in for ECU after a nine-week Pirates run. ECU is looking shakier and shakier and has multiple potential losses ahoy.
While Marshall just won the only game I had it penciled in as losing, a 12-1 CSU team would simply have a more impressive record than a 13-0 Marshall would, especially if the Rams' win over Boston College turns out to be over a power-conference bowl team. This requires that Boise State drop another game, as BSU holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over CSU, and only conference champions are eligible for the designated mid-major spot. Boise State could just take that spot for itself, by the way, fully completing the hey-this-is-just-like-the-BCS thing Alabama's working on.
Everything else aligns according to geography and pleasing matchups, other than the Orange Bowl, which has automatic ties based on the committee rankings. The ACC is hard.
As always, bowl order has nothing in particular to do with conference standings.
|GoDaddy||Northern Illinois||South Alabama||1/4/2015||Mobile, AL||MAC 1 vs. Sun Belt 2|
|Birmingham||Cincinnati||Oregon State*||1/3/2015||Birmingham, AL||American vs. SEC 9|
|Alamo||Oklahoma||Arizona||1/2/2015||San Antonio, TX||Big 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2|
|Armed Forces||Houston||Rutgers||1/2/2015||Fort Worth, TX||American vs. Army/Big 12 7/Big Ten|
|Cactus||Oklahoma State||Washington||1/2/2015||Tempe, AZ||Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7 (MWC backup)|
|TaxSlayer||Maryland||South Carolina||1/2/2015||Jacksonville, FL||ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Citrus||Wisconsin||Auburn||1/1/2015||Orlando, FL||Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 2|
|Outback||Iowa||Missouri||1/1/2015||Tampa, FL||Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Belk||Clemson||Stanford*||12/30/2014||Charlotte, NC||ACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Music City||Georgia Tech||Tennessee||12/30/2014||Nashville, TN||ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8|
|San Francisco||Minnesota||UCLA||12/30/2014||San Francisco, CA||Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4|
|Liberty||Baylor||LSU||12/29/2014||Memphis, TN||Big 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Russell Athletic||Louisville||West Virginia||12/29/2014||Orlando, FL||ACC 2 vs. Big 12 3|
|Texas||Kansas State||Texas A&M||12/29/2014||Houston, TX||Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Holiday||Nebraska||Arizona State||12/27/2014||San Diego, CA||Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3|
|Independence||Memphis*||Louisiana Tech||12/27/2014||Shreveport, LA||ACC vs. SEC 10 (C-USA backup)|
|Military||Temple||Virginia||12/27/2014||Annapolis, MD||American vs. ACC|
|Pinstripe||Miami||Penn State||12/27/2014||New York, NY||ACC 3-6 vs. Big Ten 5-7|
|Sun||North Carolina||Utah||12/27/2014||El Paso, TX||ACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5|
|Bitcoin||UCF||Middle Tennessee||12/26/2014||St. Petersburg, FL||American vs. C-USA (ACC backup)|
|Quick Lane||Boston College||Western Michigan||12/26/2014||Detroit, MI||ACC (MAC backup) vs. Big Ten (MAC backup)|
|Zaxby's||Northwestern||UTEP||12/26/2014||Dallas, TX||Big Ten/Big 12 7 vs. C-USA|
|Bahamas||Marshall||Toledo||12/24/2014||Nassau, BS||C-USA vs. MAC 4/5|
|Hawaii||Western Kentucky||Fresno State||12/24/2014||Honolulu, HI||C-USA vs. MWC 2-7|
|Boca||Florida Atlantic||Ohio||12/23/2014||Boca Raton, FL||C-USA vs. MAC 4/5|
|Poinsettia||San Diego State||Navy||12/23/2014||San Diego, CA||MWC 2-7 vs. Navy|
|Miami Beach||East Carolina||BYU||12/22/2014||Miami, FL||American vs. BYU|
|Camelia||Akron||Arkansas State||12/20/2014||Montgomery, AL||MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3 (ACC backup)|
|Las Vegas||Boise State||USC||12/20/2014||Las Vegas, NV||MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 6|
|New Mexico||Rice||Utah State||12/20/2014||Albuquerque, NM||C-USA vs. MWC 2-7|
|New Orleans||UL Lafayette||Air Force||12/20/2014||New Orleans, LA||Sun Belt 1 vs. MWC 2-7|
|Potato||Bowling Green||Nevada||12/20/2014||Boise, ID||MAC 2 vs. MWC 2-7|
* Taking another conference's unfilled spot.
North Carolina's back in after beating Virginia, and Virginia Tech's out after becoming bad at football. Colorado State's ascent makes room for a resurgent Nevada. ULM is out, after a loss and with a brutal schedule ahead. Also out is Indiana, which was hanging around for no good reason, clearing a spot in Michigan for nearby Western Michigan.
Conferences have been rearranged somewhat throughout.