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2014 bowl and Playoff projections, Week 3: Oregon and Auburn rise

The Ducks inch closer to the top after what should go down as the biggest win of September, and somebody's gotta help clear some of that Big Ten out of the New Year's games.

Almost every FBS team is just one-sixth of the way through its regular season. This is not enough evidence to tell us exactly who's going where in the postseason, but that's the fun part.

The picture becomes clearer after every Saturday, no matter what. The goal of all this is to get the right teams into the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl, and getting to see essentially a Rose Bowl in September is at least a big step toward that. And, as always, the really, really fun part is that this is college football, where nothing is ever capable of being projected.

With 13 weeks to go, the two upper levels see a couple adjustments, but most of the action takes place below them.

College Football Playoff

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

Holding steady, albeit with Oregon and Georgia flipping. The Ducks beat Michigan State more convincingly than anyone (that I know of) projected, and the Ducks' biggest remaining threats (UCLA, Washington, Stanford) all looked more beatable than we've thought. They seem like a decent bet to go undefeated, while the SEC champ would probably make it in with one loss anyway.

Not that it matters, since seeds 2 and 3 are playing in the same place no matter which team is ranked where.

New Year's bowls

Bowl Date Location Ties
Cotton Baylor Alabama 1/1/2015 Arlington, TX At-large
Fiesta USC Michigan State 12/31/2014 Glendale, AZ At-large
Orange Virginia Tech Texas A&M 12/31/2014 Miami, FL ACC 1 vs. Big Ten/Notre Dame/SEC
Peach East Carolina Auburn 12/31/2014 Atlanta, GA At-large

Only one major change this time around: Wisconsin, which had replaced Ohio State last week, is bumped down to the regular-folk bowls.

The hard thing about forecasting the Big Ten West at this point is finding enough losses to go around. I'm not trying to be mean. It's seriously hard. You try it. The Badgers could still hit 10 or 11 wins, but now that half of their eight quarters this year have been truly terrible, we're giving UW a break from this portion of the postseason for now.

Auburn fills the void, and yes, that's yet another SEC team. It's either Auburn or LSU, and if they end up with 10 wins each, I think the Plainsmen have the schedule edge to take the spot. Especially if, as noted, that Wisconsin team LSU beat continues doing as it's doing.

The Hokies solidified their way-too-early grasp on the ACC's No. 2 spot by winning at Ohio State, the Aggies still look like a fine pick to finish No. 5 or so and take the Orange's other spot, and geography sorts the rest of the committee's top 12 or so. ECU remains the designated mid-major pick, as its 10-point loss at South Carolina still inspires confidence in an upset vs., say, UNC at home and a tear through the AAC.

And of course USC's still in. The Trojans got a big win over Stanford, and we also don't want Pat Haden storming the office.

The rest

As always, a team's standing in the bowl pecking order does not correlate exactly to its projected rank in the conference standings. Bowls and conferences factor in geography, marketability, attendance, and more when pairing up teams.

[Note: This has been updated to account for the NCAA's sudden elimination of Penn State's bowl ban. The Nittany Lions bump down Michigan, which crowds out Maryland, which moves Oregon State, which gives us no Rice this time around. :(]

Bowl Date Location Ties
GoDaddy Northern Illinois South Alabama 1/4/2015 Mobile, AL MAC 1 vs. Sun Belt 2
Birmingham Memphis ULM* 1/3/2015 Birmingham, AL American vs. SEC 9
Alamo Oklahoma State Stanford 1/2/2015 San Antonio, TX Big 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2
Armed Forces Houston Oregon State* 1/2/2015 Fort Worth, TX American vs. Army/Big 12 7/Big Ten
Cactus TCU Arizona State 1/2/2015 Tempe, AZ Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7 (MWC conditional)
TaxSlayer Iowa Florida 1/2/2015 Jacksonville, FL ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7* vs. SEC 3-8
Capital One Penn State LSU 1/1/2015 Orlando, FL Big Ten 2-4/ACC* vs. SEC 2
Outback Ohio State South Carolina 1/1/2015 Tampa, FL Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8
Belk Louisville Tennessee 12/30/2014 Charlotte, NC ACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8
Music City Clemson Mississippi State 12/30/2014 Nashville, TN ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7* vs. SEC 3-8
San Francisco Nebraska UCLA 12/30/2014 San Francisco, CA Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4
Liberty West Virginia Ole Miss 12/29/2014 Memphis, TN Big 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8
Russell Athletic Notre Dame Kansas State 12/29/2014 Orlando, FL ACC 2 vs. Big 12 3
Texas Texas Missouri 12/29/2014 Houston, TX Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8
Holiday Wisconsin Arizona 12/27/2014 San Diego, CA Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3
Independence Georgia Tech UTEP* 12/27/2014 Shreveport, LA ACC vs. SEC 10 (C-USA conditional)
Military UCF Miami 12/27/2014 Annapolis, MD American vs. ACC
Pinstripe Pitt Michigan 12/27/2014 New York, NY ACC 3-6 vs. Big Ten 5-7
Sun North Carolina Washington 12/27/2014 El Paso, TX ACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5
Bitcoin Akron* Middle Tennessee 12/26/2014 St. Petersburg, FL American vs. C-USA (ACC conditional)
Detroit Duke Minnesota 12/26/2014 Detroit, MI ACC vs. Big Ten
Heart of Dallas Maryland North Texas 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 Ball State 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 Cincinnati BYU 12/22/2014 Miami, FL American vs. BYU
Camelia Ohio Arkansas State 12/20/2014 Montgomery, AL MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3 (ACC conditional)
Las Vegas Boise State Utah 12/20/2014 Las Vegas, NV MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 6
New Mexico UTSA Nevada 12/20/2014 Albuquerque, NM C-USA vs. MWC 2-7
New Orleans UL Lafayette Colorado State 12/20/2014 New Orleans, LA Sun Belt 1 vs. MWC 2-7
Potato Bowling Green Utah State 12/20/2014 Boise, ID MAC 2 vs. MWC 2-7

* Taking another conference's unfilled tie.

Minor adjustments. Joining us this week is Memphis, which had UCLA on the ropes in Los Angeles. Notre Dame jumps up and ruins the ACC's pecking order (the Irish can do that, as part of their quasi-membership in the conference), Stanford displaces UCLA, the whole Big Ten slides backward as Wisconsin tumbles down, the Big 12 continues to be the most shufflable ... and BYU's juuust about to find a way to ditch its personal bowl tie and cram itself into the New Year's games.

Now, what do you think?