Tuesday, the College Football Playoff committee will release its first rankings of the season. That'll give this weekly venture a lot more to work with, but for now, here are some guesses anyway!
The Playoff itself remains the same as last week, with lots of changes in the other games. The Playoff reasoning, detailed a little bit more last week, is that based on the way the Playoff committee handles resumes, Alabama and Stanford have great shots if everybody has a loss. Clemson and Ohio State likely won't have quite the same number of quality wins or ranked wins, not that the seeding matters a whole lot. The No. 1 seed gets the closer of the two locations, then plays a hard game just like the other three.
The only thing here is I think the Tigers reach 13-0 and trump the other teams' superior lists of opponents.
So, on to some guessin', with the Playoff first.
|College Football Playoff|
|National Championship||Alabama||Ohio State||January 11||Glendale, AZ||Cotton winner vs. Orange winner|
|Cotton||No. 2 Alabama||No. 3 Stanford||December 31||Arlington, TX||Playoff rankings top 4|
|Orange||No. 1 Clemson||No. 4 Ohio State||December 31||Miami||Playoff rankings top 4|
Next week, this could either be totally different or even more firmed up.
Alabama's toughest game until the SEC Championship, at least, is on Saturday against LSU at home. Similar story for Clemson, which hosts Florida State. Stanford gets the relatively easy game among this group, going to Colorado, though the Buffaloes just nearly beat UCLA in Los Angeles.
|New Year's Six bowls|
|Fiesta||Baylor||Houston||January 1||Glendale, AZ||At-large|
|Rose||Michigan State||USC||January 1||Pasadena, CA||Big Ten 1 vs. Pac-12 1|
|Sugar||TCU||Florida||January 1||New Orleans||Big 12 1 vs. SEC 1|
The Rose and Sugar get to pick, if each's champion is in the Playoff. The Pac-12 is the hardest to guess. Going with TCU in the Big 12, for now, until we see how Baylor does with its true freshman QB.
The other two will likely be based on geography from among the Playoff's highest-ranked teams, including the top non-power champ. Right now, there are a half dozen other teams you could throw in both of these mixes.
Notre Dame added a resume-boosting win over Temple (read that again 100 times, and it will be no less amazing), while Houston destroyed an SEC opponent (fine, it was Vanderbilt). So no changes to my non-power pick, though Temple, Memphis, Toledo and others are certainly in it.
However, the rest of ND's schedule isn't holding up well.
Iowa's here! I kind of think Michigan's still more likely, but that feels like a silly thing to try and tell you right now. MSU likely ranks ahead and takes the Rose, due to a slightly better list of opponents (all four of MSU's out-of-conference opponents might be bowl-eligible, while Iowa's OOC is basically just Pitt).
|Bowl (* = filling another conference's bid, and ? = I ran out of bowl-eligible teams)||Conferences ties, not based on standings|
|Alamo||Oklahoma||Utah||January 2||San Antonio||Big 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2|
|Cactus||West Virginia||Arizona||January 2||Tempe, AZ||Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7|
|Liberty||Kansas State||Mississippi State||January 2||Memphis||Big 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8|
|TaxSlayer||Minnesota||Kentucky||January 2||Jacksonville, FL||ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Citrus||Michigan||Ole Miss||January 1||Orlando||Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 2|
|Outback||Northwestern||Tennessee||January 1||Tampa||Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Belk||North Carolina||Auburn||December 30||Charlotte||ACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Birmingham||Memphis||Arkansas||December 30||Birmingham, AL||American vs. SEC 9|
|Holiday||Penn State||UCLA||December 30||San Diego||Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3|
|Music City||Florida State||Georgia||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||Washington State*||Air Force||December 29||Fort Worth, TX||Big Ten vs. MWC|
|Russell Athletic||Notre Dame||Oklahoma State||December 29||Orlando||ACC 2 vs. Big 12 3|
|Texas||Texas Tech||Texas A&M||December 29||Houston||Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Military||Louisville||Navy||December 28||Annapolis, MD||ACC vs. American|
|Quick Lane||Miami||Central Michigan*||December 28||Detroit||ACC vs. Big Ten|
|Foster Farms||?||Oregon||December 26||Santa Clara, CA||Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4|
|Heart of Dallas||Akron*||Western Kentucky||December 26||Dallas||Big 12 7 vs. C-USA|
|Independence||NC State||Louisiana-Lafeytte*||December 26||Shreveport, LA||ACC vs. SEC (C-USA backup)|
|Pinstripe||Duke||Wisconsin||December 26||New York City||ACC 3-6 vs. Big Ten 5-7|
|St. Petersburg||Buffalo*||Southern Miss||December 26||St. Petersburg, FL||American vs. C-USA|
|Sun||Pitt||Arizona State||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||Washington*||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||?||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||Marshall||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||Cal||December 19||Las Vegas||MWC 1/BYU vs. Pac-12 6|
|New Mexico||Middle Tennessee||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|
Note: After thinking some more, switched Northwestern and Wisconsin after publish, to avoid a couple repeats, and swapped Baylor and Oklahoma. The committee is going to *hate* OU's loss to Texas.
Joining us are Miami, thanks to the third PLAY OF THE CENTURY of the season so far, and Washington, because all we do is celebrate 1991's split national title.
Among those leaving us are Texas and Nebraska, because all we do is remember the 2009 Big 12 Championship.