Since August, projecting this season's bowl games has meant following the sport's usual chestnuts (teams will end up being ranked by their number of losses, with big wins and losses maybe moving the needle a little bit), with no idea whether those would be outdated in this new era.
But now that one gets to combine last Tuesday's initial College Football Playoff committee rankings with Saturday's results, we might actually start getting somewhere here. Based on the first round of rankings, it's strength of schedule above all else -- with teams still more or less tiered by losses, of course. And we'll have a little bit better look this Tuesday, when we get the first-ever update to the Playoff rankings.
College Football Playoff
|Rose||No. 2 Alabama||No. 3 Oregon||1/1/2015||Pasadena, CA|
|Sugar||No. 1 Florida State||No. 4 TCU||1/1/2015||New Orleans, LA|
Weekly praises upon FSU for remaining unbeaten, no matter how, in order to make the No. 1 choice a simple one. That trip to Miami looks more and more challenging, but the Noles remain a fine bet. The No. 1 seed would also grant FSU the geographic advantage, so to speak, of not having to travel to California.
Confidence in Alabama as the SEC champion grows this week, with Ole Miss falling behind the Tide in the standings and both Auburn and Mississippi State looking quite beatable again.
TCU enters after winning its only especially tough road game left. Get past Kansas State next Saturday, and then it's a matter of avoiding a Thanksgiving debacle at Texas. No conference championship game. An 11-1 Big 12 champion is a Playoff lock.
Oregon moves up a little after finally putting on a full show of force, meaning the offseason's favorite Playoff foursome is almost entirely back together after Bama, Oklahoma, and Oregon all suffered early losses. Michigan State could finish with nearly the same resume as Oregon, but that loss in Eugene would likely knock out the Spartans, since the committee has stated head-to-head results will help sort similar teams.
The rest of the New Year's Six
|Cotton||Oklahoma||Notre Dame||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||Michigan State||Auburn||12/31/2014||Atlanta, GA||At-large|
SEC teams will litter the top 10. The initial rankings show that. But the committee's unlikely to send two teams from one division in the first year of the Playoff, unless the SEC West runner-up finishes 11-1. That means the SEC gets at least a couple spots in the next tier.
The Orange gets the ACC's second-ranked team and probably the No. 5 team, thanks to its SEC connection.
2014 college football rankings, Week 11
Everything else is committee-determined matchups from the top non-Playoff teams in the rankings, other than the one spot reserved for the highest mid-major champion.
Going with Colorado State again this week, this time over Boise State and Marshall. CSU has a major schedule edge over Marshall, which the committee values above all else, and the Broncos have a trickier schedule than CSU the rest of the way.
As always, bowl pecking orders are not based on conference standings. Those numbers in the right column just note which bowls pick in which order.
|GoDaddy||Northern Illinois||South Alabama||1/4/2015||Mobile, AL||MAC 1 vs. Sun Belt 2|
|Birmingham||Cincinnati||Texas A&M||1/3/2015||Birmingham, AL||American vs. SEC 9|
|Alamo||Baylor||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||Memphis*||Washington||1/2/2015||Tempe, AZ||Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7 (MWC backup)|
|TaxSlayer||Maryland||Florida||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||Iowa||South Carolina||1/1/2015||Tampa, FL||Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Belk||Louisville||Georgia||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||Oklahoma State||LSU||12/29/2014||Memphis, TN||Big 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Russell Athletic||Clemson||West Virginia||12/29/2014||Orlando, FL||ACC 2 vs. Big 12 3|
|Texas||Kansas State||Missouri||12/29/2014||Houston, TX||Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Holiday||Nebraska||Arizona||12/27/2014||San Diego, CA||Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3|
|Independence||Oregon State*||Louisiana Tech||12/27/2014||Shreveport, LA||ACC vs. SEC 10 (C-USA backup)|
|Military||Temple||NC State||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||Virginia||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)|
|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||Stanford*||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||Boise State||USC||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|
* Team filling another conference's unused slot.
Leaving us this week: Florida Atlantic, Fresno State, and North Carolina, the latter hopefully for the last time, because everyone is tired of it jumping in and out.
Joining us: Florida, NC State, and the mighty UAB Blazers.
Yes, South Carolina's still here after losing four of five. Funny story: in January, I put up WAY-TOO-EARLY bowl projections that had the Gamecocks in the Belk. Everyone got mad and wanted them in a better game. Now I'm probably believing too much in Carolina just by having it in a bowl at all. Life takes turns.