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Updated College Football Playoff and bowl projections: Bama, Ohio State moving up

Three weekends out, college football's postseason picture takes slight focus. Get full predictions on what we'll get to watch in December and January.

What did we learn from the past five days' results? Well, first, we learned Florida State's unlikely to enter the first-ever College Football Playoff as the No. 1 seed, due to the committee dumping FSU to No. 3 despite a perfect win-loss record. We also learned Arizona State, Auburn, Duke, and Nebraska are out of the championship running, as each picked up the last loss its title hopes could withstand.

Barring chaos (there is always chaos) and committee surprises (the committee's been full of surprises so far), the list of teams with obvious paths to the Playoff is now pretty short. Alabama, Baylor, Florida State, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oregon, and TCU should remain in the way of any party-crashers, and only Bama, FSU, and Oregon seem to control their own destinies.

To the picks! As always, thanks to the Seminoles for making their entry an easy choice, even though there's nothing easy about their preferred method of winning.

College Football Playoff

Rose No. 2 Oregon No. 3 Florida State 1/1/2015 Pasadena, CA
Sugar No. 1 Alabama No. 4 Ohio State 1/1/2015 New Orleans, LA

Of course, with FSU already falling in the committee's rankings, it's hard to keep them as the No. 1 seed. If Bama wins out, it'll add two more quality wins to what might already be a No. 1 resume. (We'll find out on Tuesday.) A similar story for Oregon, which could have to beat a top-10-ish UCLA or whoever. Whichever team ranks No. 1 hosts at its closer of the two semifinal sites.

And then there's the final spot. Barring upsets, it would primarily come down to Baylor, Ohio State, or TCU -- another SEC team could be near No. 5, but I don't see the committee entering two teams from one conference.

Here's why I think it would be OSU, based on what we know about the committee's values. Baylor and TCU could each finish with six games against teams that finished .500 or better, while the Buckeyes could finish with eight, plus the Big Ten championship. OSU would have a loss comparable to Baylor's -- Virginia Tech and West Virginia could each finish 7-5 -- and has beaten Minnesota on the road, which TCU was praised for doing at home. Right now, TCU's best win is No. 13 Kansas State at home, while OSU beat No. 12 Michigan State on the road.

Add a potential win against a top-15 Wisconsin to that? Welcome to a whole offseason of talk about the Big 12 expanding into a conference title game, Baylor scheduling tougher, and BIG SCHOOL BIAS. Or someone could be courteous enough to lose before then.

The rest of the New Year's Six

The Orange takes the top-ranked non-Playoff teams from the ACC and from the listed group. The other three take the top-ranked non-Playoff teams in general, including the top-ranked non-power champion. The committee pairs at-large bowls by geography and matchups.

Bowl Date Location Ties
Cotton Baylor Boise State 1/1/2015 Arlington, TX At-large
Fiesta TCU UCLA 12/31/2014 Glendale, AZ At-large
Orange Georgia Tech Mississippi State 12/31/2014 Miami, FL ACC 1 vs. Big Ten/Notre Dame/SEC
Peach Michigan State Georgia 12/31/2014 Atlanta, GA At-large

I'd like to have Baylor and TCU rematch in the Cotton. While the committee has a stated disdain for rematches, it would be neat to make an exception. An 119-point classic involving two fan bases who are still at each other's throats, two months later? I think that rematch would do well. But alas.

With this lineup, the Bruins should go to nearby Arizona instead of Texas again. That means TCU would be the Texas team to play away from Arlington, since we'd want to avoid the far-less-desirable Baylor-UCLA 2012 Holiday rematch. A five-years-later Boise State-TCU Fiesta could make it worthwhile, but we'll avoid rematches altogether for now.

Georgia steals Auburn's spot, chaos leaves us with the Jackets as the likely ACC team unless Duke gives FSU a scare in the ACC Championship, and Arizona State's loss clears a path for UCLA to win the Pac-12 South.

Florida Gators

Everything else

Bowl pecking orders are not based on conference standings. Those numbers in the right column note which bowls pick in which order.

Bowl Date Location Conference pick
GoDaddy Northern Illinois South Alabama 1/4/2015 Mobile, AL MAC 1 vs. Sun Belt 2
Birmingham Memphis Arkansas 1/3/2015 Birmingham, AL American vs. SEC 9
Alamo Oklahoma Arizona State 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 North Carolina** Cal 1/2/2015 Tempe, AZ Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7 (MWC backup)
TaxSlayer Louisville South Carolina 1/2/2015 Jacksonville, FL ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8
Citrus Wisconsin Ole Miss 1/1/2015 Orlando, FL Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 2
Outback Maryland Auburn 1/1/2015 Tampa, FL Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8
Belk Clemson Tennessee 12/30/2014 Charlotte, NC ACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8
Music City Minnesota Missouri 12/30/2014 Nashville, TN ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8
San Francisco Iowa Arizona 12/30/2014 San Francisco, CA Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4
Liberty West Virginia LSU 12/29/2014 Memphis, TN Big 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8
Russell Athletic Duke Kansas State 12/29/2014 Orlando, FL ACC 2 vs. Big 12 3
Texas Texas Texas A&M 12/29/2014 Houston, TX Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8
Holiday Nebraska USC 12/27/2014 San Diego, CA Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3
Independence Louisiana Tech Florida 12/27/2014 Shreveport, LA C-USA vs. SEC/ACC
Military Cincinnati Virginia Tech 12/27/2014 Annapolis, MD American vs. ACC
Pinstripe Notre Dame Penn State 12/27/2014 New York, NY ACC 3-6 vs. Big Ten 5-7
Sun Miami Utah 12/27/2014 El Paso, TX ACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5
Bitcoin UCF NC State 12/26/2014 St. Petersburg, FL American vs. ACC
Quick Lane Boston College Western Michigan 12/26/2014 Detroit, MI ACC (MAC backup) vs. Big Ten (MAC backup)
Heart of Dallas Northwestern Rice 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 Temple** 12/24/2014 Honolulu, HI C-USA vs. MWC 2-7
Boca UAB 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 Colorado State Washington 12/20/2014 Las Vegas, NV MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 6
New Mexico UTEP 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

* Already accepted bid.

** Filling another conference's unused slot.

Texas-Texas A&M! A 350-point UNC-Cal debacle! Bobby Petrino auditioning to replace Steve Spurrier, if the Ball Coach hangs 'em up!

Joining us this week are Arkansas, North Carolina, Northwestern, Texas, and Virginia Tech. Leaving us are Oklahoma State, Pitt, and Stanford. That imbalance means Middle Tennessee and Texas State are among the non-power teams crowded out this time.