Let's say three Playoff teams come from Clemson, the SEC and the Big Ten. Let's say the Pac-12's out. That leaves the Big 12 and Notre Dame, since the committee's refused to rank non-power teams anywhere near contention range. And since Oklahoma's looked better than Oklahoma State in more weeks than vice versa, let's say the Playoff debate comes down to Sooners vs. Irish for the fourth spot.
OU could finish with nine wins over .500 or better teams, a committee-certified schedule stat, while Notre Dame could have only five. And Oklahoma could have wins over three committee-ranked teams, or four if Tennessee sneaks in at 8-4.
But the Irish can trump that. The already-beaten Navy, Pitt, Temple, USC and the still-to-come Stanford can finish ranked, and each could still win its division (Pitt's a longshot right now, sure). Being the de facto champion of both the American and the Pac-12 would nullify the committee's vague conference championship bonus at least somewhat, right? Hard to slam the Irish for not being in a conference if they pull that off.
The committee prefers to compare wins, but comparing losses will be a thing, too. Notre Dame's loss is a two-point road squeaker to current No. 1 Clemson, while Oklahoma lost convincingly to currently 4-6 Texas.
Speaking of Texas, the committee declares it compares games against common opponents. ND destroyed the Longhorns, putting the transitive margin of victory in the Notre Dame-Texas-Oklahoma chain of Sooner discomfort at 42 points.
Fair or not, one thing about picking a Playoff team is being able to defend it to humans later on, and an insignificant thing like 2015 Texas could end up making it really hard to explain Oklahoma making it in over Notre Dame.
Anyway, here are some guesses for each bowl.
|College Football Playoff|
|National Championship||Alabama||Ohio State||January 11||Glendale, AZ||Cotton winner vs. Orange winner|
|Cotton||No. 1 Alabama||No. 4 Notre Dame||December 31||Arlington, TX||Playoff rankings top 4|
|Orange||No. 2 Clemson||No. 3 Ohio State||December 31||Miami||Playoff rankings top 4|
Starting to think Bama claims the No. 1 spot away from the Tigers sooner than later. Almost every team Alabama's beaten still has a winning record, and the Tide are out here completely humiliating people. One loss to Ole Miss is still a thing people cling to (because it's still hilarious, and because people are tired of Alabama), but this team looks just as overwhelming to the committee as it does to you and me.
The only reward for being No. 1 is getting to go to a slightly closer bowl, though. Everybody goes pretty far to play a tough game.
I had Michigan knocking Ohio State out of the Playoff last week, and that might flip back and forth again before November 28. We'll see.
And this means Tuesday's likely Playoff top four staying unchanged through December, which sounds absurd.
|New Year's Six bowls|
|Fiesta||Baylor||Michigan State||January 1||Glendale, AZ||At-large|
|Rose||Iowa||Stanford||January 1||Pasadena, CA||Big Ten 1 vs. Pac-12 1|
|Sugar||Oklahoma||Florida||January 1||New Orleans||Big 12 1 vs. SEC 1|
|Peach||Florida State||Navy||December 31||Atlanta||At-large|
Lotta shaking up here since last week.
Stanford's out of the Playoff and in as the Rose Bowl favorite. Iowa's the clear leader for the other side, if Ohio State's in the Playoff.
If Florida loses to Florida State and Alabama to have three losses, the SEC might still not have a great choice for its Sugar spot, unless LSU bounces back strong from losing two in a row. Can't bet on the Tigers right now, though. OU falls to the other side of the Sugar.
Baylor's in here as a one-loss, and then there's a big pile of two-loss teams. Michigan State's schedule is gonna hold up really well (so, REMATCH of maybe 2014's best game), and then ... FSU over Oklahoma State and others? I guess?
|Bowl (* = filling another conference's bid)||Conferences ties, not based on standings|
|Alamo||Oklahoma State||Utah||January 2||San Antonio||Big 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2|
|Cactus||West Virginia||USC||January 2||Tempe, AZ||Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7|
|Liberty||Kansas State||Arkansas||January 2||Memphis||Big 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8|
|TaxSlayer||Penn State||Ole Miss||January 2||Jacksonville, FL||ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Citrus||Michigan||LSU||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||Virginia Tech||Mississippi State||December 30||Charlotte||ACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Birmingham||Houston||Auburn||December 30||Birmingham, AL||American vs. SEC 9|
|Holiday||Wisconsin||UCLA||December 30||San Diego||Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3|
|Music City||Pitt||Georgia||December 30||Nashville||ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Arizona||Arizona*||Nevada||December 29||Tucson||C-USA vs. MWC|
|Armed Forces||Arizona State*||Utah State||December 29||Fort Worth, TX||Big Ten vs. MWC|
|Russell Athletic||North Carolina||TCU||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||Miami||Memphis||December 28||Annapolis, MD||ACC vs. American|
|Quick Lane||Duke||Minnesota||December 28||Detroit||ACC vs. Big Ten|
|Foster Farms||Nebraska||Oregon||December 26||Santa Clara, CA||Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4|
|Heart of Dallas||Central Michigan*||Western Kentucky||December 26||Dallas||Big 12 7 vs. C-USA|
|Independence||Buffalo*||Louisiana-Lafeytte*||December 26||Shreveport, LA||ACC vs. SEC (C-USA backup)|
|Pinstripe||Louisville||Indiana||December 26||New York City||ACC 3-6 vs. Big Ten 5-7|
|St. Petersburg||Temple||Southern Miss||December 26||St. Petersburg, FL||American vs. C-USA|
|Sun||NC State||Washington 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||Bowling Green||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||East Carolina||Western Michigan||December 22||Boca Raton, FL||American vs. MAC|
|Potato||Toledo||Boise State||December 22||Boise, ID||MAC 2 vs. MWC|
|Miami Beach||Cincinnati||Marshall||December 21||Miami||American vs. C-USA|
|Camelia||Northern Illinois||Appalachian State||December 19||Montgomery, AL||MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3|
|Cure||USF||South Alabama||December 19||Orlando||American vs. Sun Belt|
|Las Vegas||Air Force||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||Arkansas State||Louisiana Tech||December 19||New Orleans||Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA|