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New College Football Playoff and bowl projections, now with more (sigh) Alabama

The last postseason projection before the Playoff committee releases its official preliminary rankings on Tuesday night. Just cannot quit you, Tide.

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

Bowl Date Location Ties
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.

Everything else

As always, bowl order has nothing in particular to do with conference standings.

Bowl Date Location Ties
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.