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.
|Cotton||Baylor||Boise State||1/1/2015||Arlington, TX||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.
Bowl pecking orders are not based on conference standings. Those numbers in the right column note which bowls pick in which order.
|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.