Baylor spent the first month or so of the season dribbling circles around hapless nitwits, in its infinite wisdom. The Bears rose to No. 2 in the AP Poll thanks to their strategy of trying not to play teams against which it's possible to look bad. They also established a weekly spot in this space, where you'll find predictions on how the bowl games will shape up at the end of the season.
Now that Baylor's finally played somebody (apologies, Texas Tech), it's easy to say the Bears have as good a shot at the Playoff as anybody. Baylor so riddled the banged-up Mountaineers that WVU's defensive coordinator said he would've needed 14 men on the field to do anything about it.
Three tough road games remain, plus Oklahoma at home. That's not easy, but that's also Baylor's chance to firm up a resume that so far is mostly just a bunch of cartoon explosions, which is very unprofessional.
Also, last week's threatened ascent of Michigan over Ohio State is called off for now. Michigan's loss to Michigan State means there's a chance the Wolverines wouldn't win the Big Ten East even with a win over OSU. Plus, Michigan got outgained by 156 yards Saturday, meaning we can think of the result as something like a gauge of team quality and not just a total fluke. That, and the Buckeyes looked solid against Penn State.
|College Football Playoff|
|National Championship||Alabama||Ohio State||January 11||Glendale, AZ||Cotton winner vs. Orange winner|
|Cotton||No. 2 Ohio State||No. 3 Clemson||December 31||Arlington, TX||Playoff rankings top 4|
|Orange||No. 1 Alabama||No. 4 Baylor||December 31||Miami||Playoff rankings top 4|
The other two remain, with Bama winning its toughest remaining road game on paper (on-paper does not apply to the Iron Bowl) and Clemson putting 34 points on a Boston College defense among the country's 10 best.
|New Year's Six bowls|
|Fiesta||Notre Dame||Utah||January 1||Glendale, AZ||At-large|
|Rose||Michigan State||Stanford||January 1||Pasadena, CA||Big Ten 1 vs. Pac-12 1|
|Sugar||TCU||LSU||January 1||New Orleans||Big 12 1 vs. SEC 1|
|Peach||Florida State||Houston||December 31||Atlanta||At-large|
The American took a big step toward claiming the designated non-power spot, with Memphis beating Ole Miss as the Mountain West's last hope, Boise State, got destroyed by Utah State. You could put about a third of the AAC in here, but I'm sticking with Houston, whose only road opponents left are miserable UCF and mediocre UConn.
Oh hey, Spartans, back in the Rose.
More college football for you
Texas A&M leaves the Sugar Bowl spot, but only in part due to being blown out. Alabama won 41-23, with 21 of its points coming on interception returns. That suggests A&M would be much closer if they were to play again. Either way, LSU is the SEC's last unbeaten and hosts the Aggies, with its trip to Ole Miss looking less worrisome for some reason, so let's see how the Tigers look in this spot.
Plus, moving A&M down gives us ...
|Bowl (* = filling another conference's bid)||Conferences ties, not based on standings|
|Alamo||Oklahoma||UCLA||January 2||San Antonio||Big 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2|
|Cactus||Texas Tech||Arizona||January 2||Tempe, AZ||Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7|
|Liberty||Oklahoma State||Georgia||January 2||Memphis||Big 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8|
|TaxSlayer||Penn State||Kentucky||January 2||Jacksonville, FL||ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Citrus||Michigan||Florida||January 1||Orlando||Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 2|
|Outback||Iowa||Ole Miss||January 1||Tampa||Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Belk||Duke||Tennessee||December 30||Charlotte||ACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Birmingham||Memphis||Arkansas||December 30||Birmingham, AL||American vs. SEC 9|
|Holiday||Wisconsin||USC||December 30||San Diego||Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3|
|Music City||Louisville||Mississippi State||December 30||Nashville||ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Arizona||Rice||Utah State||December 29||Tucson||C-USA vs. MWC|
|Armed Forces||Minnesota||Air Force||December 29||Fort Worth, TX||Big Ten vs. MWC|
|Russell Athletic||Pitt||West Virginia||December 29||Orlando||ACC 2 vs. Big 12 3|
|Texas||Texas||Texas A&M||December 29||Houston||Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Military||Virginia Tech||Navy||December 28||Annapolis, MD||ACC vs. American|
|Quick Lane||Boston College||Illinois||December 28||Detroit||ACC vs. Big Ten|
|Foster Farms||Nebraska||Arizona State||December 26||Santa Clara, CA||Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4|
|Heart of Dallas||Kansas State||Marshall||December 26||Dallas||Big 12 7 vs. C-USA|
|Independence||Louisiana-Lafeyette*||Missouri||December 26||Shreveport, LA||ACC vs. SEC (C-USA backup)|
|Pinstripe||North Carolina||Northwestern||December 26||New York City||ACC 3-6 vs. Big Ten 5-7|
|St. Petersburg||Buffalo||Middle Tennessee||December 26||St. Petersburg, FL||American vs. C-USA|
|Sun||NC State||Cal||December 26||El Paso||ACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5|
|Bahamas||Old Dominion||Ohio||December 24||Nassau, BS||C-USA vs. MAC 4/5|
|Hawaii||San Jose State*||BYU||December 24||Honolulu||American vs. MWC/BYU|
|GoDaddy||Toledo||Georgia Southern||December 23||Mobile, AL||MAC 1 vs. Sun Belt 2|
|Poinsettia||San Diego State||Akron||December 23||San Diego||MWC vs. Army|
|Boca Raton||Temple||Northern Illinois||December 22||Boca Raton, FL||American vs. MAC|
|Potato||Bowling Green||Colorado State||December 22||Boise, ID||MAC 2 vs. MWC|
|Miami Beach||Cincinnati||Western Kentucky||December 21||Miami||American vs. C-USA|
|Camelia||Western Michigan||Arkansas State||December 19||Montgomery, AL||MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3|
|Cure||East Carolina||South Alabama||December 19||Orlando||American vs. Sun Belt|
|Las Vegas||Boise State||Oregon||December 19||Las Vegas||MWC 1/BYU vs. Pac-12 6|
|New Mexico||Southern Miss||New Mexico||December 19||Albuquerque||C-USA vs. MWC|
|New Orleans||Appalachian State||Louisiana Tech||December 19||New Orleans||Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA|
Texas is kind of unlikely to make a bowl right now, but I can believe whatever I want, and so can you! That would also come right after a Backyard Brawl in Orlando, which would not be the first event of that name in the Orlando area.
Boise State did lose to Utah State by many points, yes, but the standings should turn out fine. USU has a couple tricky road games, and BSU's been the better team (or at least as good) in all but one weekend.
Leaving us: Indiana, which lost to Rutgers. Joining us: Boston College, which bounces in and out weekly.
* * *
SB Nation presents: The wild final play between Michigan and Michigan State