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Updated College Football Playoff and bowl projections, with a new No. 4

With one Saturday left, it looks like we're down to six teams in the running for four spots. Assuming no upsets, somebody will be so, so mad around this time next week. Picks for 38 games below. Nebraska

What did we learn about the bowl picture in Week 14? We learned Mississippi State won't be going to the Playoff, and that Alabama is therefore the SEC's only hope, no matter how unlikely two SEC teams in one four-team group looked. We learned the three big favorites remained on course. We learned that TCU is interested in making its case for that fourth spot with force, and that its two competitors both looked beatable and banged-up.

In the season's final full-ish FBS weekend, we'll learn which conference champs join early birds Georgia Southern and Memphis, along with excitement like whether Oklahoma State or Temple can become bowl eligible. We've got 14 games to go, and while all of them matter in our hearts (even you, SMU-UConn), about a dozen of them also have potential postseason ramifications. That's a pretty dense weekend.

So with what we picked up this weekend and an eye toward the next six days, here's the second-to-last guess at how the postseason scene looks.

College Football Playoff

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

The first three are easy. Win and in.

The fourth spot comes down to Baylor, Ohio State, and TCU. Again.

I've gone back and forth through all three, but the Frogs have the edge. They already ranked two spots ahead of Baylor despite that head-to-head thing, and surely added distance in Week 14 by blowing out a decent Texas on the road as Baylor squeaked past a bad Texas Tech. Any gains Baylor might've made due to TCU struggling with Kansas are gone.

Speaking of struggling, Ohio State has now looked bad for at least a half in something like five games. And while OSU's Virginia Tech loss is one to a .500 team, it's still a home loss by two scores to a .500 team, not a one-score loss on the road against a top-10 team, as TCU's was. Is anything short of an Ohio State beatdown of Wisconsin next week enough to make up for that? (And Baylor's loss at West Virginia isn't much better than OSU's.)

It's close. It's hard to say. There's no fair way to rule anybody out, not even head-to-head. But TCU is the easiest choice at the moment.

(The committee might just dump OSU due to Buckeye QB J.T. Barrett's season-ending injury. That would mean punishing a team based solely on a guess about how Barrett's backup would play in the Playoff, which would be presumptuous, insulting to the rest of the team, and dismissive of the team's body of work. I hope committee chair Jeff Long makes clear that his group will evaluate Ohio State by nothing but what Ohio State's done on the field.)

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, plus the top-ranked non-power champion. The committee pairs at-large bowls by geography and matchups.

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

Georgia's out. UCLA's out. TCU's moving up.

Baylor and Ohio State get consolations. The Orange's automatic bids are basically set, depending on which MSU ranks better. Boise State is a win over Fresno State from a spot. Arizona will likely rank in the top 10 this Tuesday and lose to No. 2 Oregon.

That would leave one spot, perhaps either Georgia, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, or Wisconsin. Decent cases, but Ole Miss' two wins over top-10 teams (plus another over Boise State) and close losses to likely ranked Auburn and LSU (plus a non-close loss to Arkansas ... but everybody's had a weird game) hold up. You disagree with this. We're still friends.

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 UCLA 1/2/2015 San Antonio, TX Big 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2
Armed Forces Houston Iowa 1/2/2015 Fort Worth, TX American vs. Army/Big 12 7/Big Ten
Cactus Texas State** Stanford 1/2/2015 Tempe, AZ Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7 (MWC backup)
TaxSlayer Boston College South Carolina 1/2/2015 Jacksonville, FL ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8
Citrus Louisville*** Missouri 1/1/2015 Orlando, FL Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 2
Outback Wisconsin Auburn 1/1/2015 Tampa, FL Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8
Belk NC State Tennessee 12/30/2014 Charlotte, NC ACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8
Music City Maryland Georgia 12/30/2014 Nashville, TN ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8
Foster Farms Nebraska USC 12/30/2014 Santa Clara, 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 Clemson 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 Minnesota Arizona State 12/27/2014 San Diego, CA Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3
Independence North Carolina Florida 12/27/2014 Shreveport, LA ACC vs. SEC (C-USA backup)
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 Duke Utah 12/27/2014 El Paso, TX ACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5
Bitcoin UCF Miami 12/26/2014 St. Petersburg, FL American vs. ACC
Quick Lane Pitt Illinois 12/26/2014 Detroit, MI ACC (MAC backup) vs. Big Ten (MAC backup)
Heart of Dallas Rutgers** Louisiana Tech 12/26/2014 Dallas, TX Big Ten/Big 12 7 vs. C-USA
Bahamas Marshall Western Michigan 12/24/2014 Nassau, BS C-USA vs. MAC 4/5
Hawaii Rice Fresno State 12/24/2014 Honolulu, HI C-USA vs. MWC 2-7
Boca Western Kentucky Central Michigan 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 Bowling Green 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 Toledo Nevada 12/20/2014 Boise, ID MAC 2 vs. MWC 2-7

* Already accepted bid.

** Filling another conference's unused slot.

*** The ACC takes the Big Ten's Citrus spot if the Big Ten's in the Orange. There are so many rules.

It looks like multiple bowl eligible teams will be left out, which likely means no way for 7-5 Appalachian State or 9-3 Georgia Southern to get that silly no-bowls-for-first-year-FBS-teams thing waived.