If you think we need an eight-team Playoff, take a look at the schedule for the final weekend of the regular season. The four-team tournament is meeting you halfway anyway.
Iowa and Michigan State will meet in the Big Ten Championship for a Playoff play-in game. Clemson and North Carolina are in the ACC Championship for what seems like another (the Heels should rank comfortably in the top 10 going in and, with a win, would jump Clemson and the B1G title loser, plus get the bumps from a conference title and beating the No. 1 team).
A 25-point Florida loss to Florida State means the SEC Championship likely only has one Playoff contender, and the Pac-12's game might end up not having any, despite Stanford winning an eliminator against Notre Dame this weekend.
Seems like we can expect to have at least one play-in game in the final weekend of the season in most years. So we can pretend the Playoff's expanded just a little bit, but not too much yet.
|College Football Playoff|
|National Championship||Alabama||Clemson||January 11||Glendale, AZ||Cotton winner vs. Orange winner|
|Cotton||No. 2 Alabama||No. 3 Michigan State||December 31||Arlington, TX||Playoff rankings top 4|
|Orange||No. 1 Clemson||No. 4 Oklahoma||December 31||Miami||Playoff rankings top 4|
Take a moment to laugh at all the individuals who spent the offseason telling you the Big 12's 10-team setup and lack of a conference title game would hurt its Playoff chances forever, based on one year of evidence. Let's pause for that laughter.
The Sooners are now free to begin Playoff prep, having tacked a blowout of No. 11 Oklahoma State onto their No. 3 ranking to conclude their schedule. If they still had a conference championship to go, they'd be at risk of not making the Playoff at all.
(This is your reminder that the Big 12 Championship, when it existed, cost the league far more national title shots than it ever enabled.)
Anyway, a Big Ten champion MSU might jump OU due to strength of schedule (advanced stats will prefer MSU over the Hawkeyes by a good bit), but everything else in this group is straightforward.
|New Year's Six bowls|
|Fiesta||Notre Dame||Houston||January 1||Glendale, AZ||At-large|
|Rose||Ohio State||Stanford||January 1||Pasadena, CA||Big Ten 1 vs. Pac-12 1|
|Sugar||Baylor||Ole Miss||January 1||New Orleans||Big 12 1 vs. SEC 1|
|Peach||Florida State||Iowa||December 31||Atlanta||At-large|
The four games with conference ties seem pretty set, unless the Cardinal can crack the Playoff.
The Rose insists it'll take the highest-ranked teams from its conferences, no questions asked, and if the Big Ten Championship loser is Iowa, it's gonna have a hard time staying ahead of the Buckeyes. Same for the Spartans too, maybe.
The currently No. 12 Gators are likely to add a second straight loss next week, as No. 18 Ole Miss gets a boost from beating No. 21 Mississippi State and awaits further movement.
Houston's in with a win over Temple (or vice versa) in the AAC Championship, Notre Dame and Florida State seem like solid bets to rank in the New Year's Six, and Northwestern (!) might be the first team out.
|Bowl (* = filling another conference's bid; ** = uh, let's talk about this)||Conferences ties and selection order, not based on standings|
|Alamo||TCU||Oregon||January 2||San Antonio||Big 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2|
|Cactus||West Virginia||UCLA||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||LSU||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||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||Memphis||Auburn||December 30||Birmingham, AL||American vs. SEC 9|
|Holiday||Wisconsin||Utah||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||Marshall||Nevada||December 29||Tucson||C-USA vs. MWC|
|Armed Forces||Arizona State*||Air Force||December 29||Fort Worth, TX||Big Ten vs. MWC|
|Russell Athletic||North Carolina||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||NC State||Navy||December 28||Annapolis, MD||ACC vs. American|
|Quick Lane||Duke||Nebraska**||December 28||Detroit||ACC vs. Big Ten|
|Foster Farms||Minnesota**||USC||December 26||Santa Clara, CA||Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4|
|Heart of Dallas||Washington*||Western Kentucky||December 26||Dallas||Big 12 7 vs. C-USA|
|Independence||Western Michigan*||Illinois**||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||UConn||San Jose State**||December 26||St. Petersburg, FL||American vs. C-USA|
|Sun||Miami||Washington State||December 26||El Paso||ACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5|
|Bahamas||Middle Tennessee||Akron||December 24||Nassau, BS||C-USA vs. MAC|
|Hawaii||Tulsa||Colorado State||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||Arizona*||December 23||San Diego||MWC vs. Army|
|Boca Raton||Cincinnati||Ohio||December 22||Boca Raton, FL||American vs. MAC|
|Potato||Toledo||Boise State||December 22||Boise, ID||MAC 2 vs. MWC|
|Miami Beach||Temple||Southern Miss||December 21||Miami||American vs. C-USA|
|Camelia||Northern Illinois||Appalachian State||December 19||Montgomery, AL||MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3|
|Cure||USF||Utah State*||December 19||Orlando||American vs. Sun Belt|
|Las Vegas||BYU||Cal||December 19||Las Vegas||MWC 1/BYU vs. Pac-12 6|
|New Mexico||Central Michigan*||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|
So, we finally did it. We literally have too many bowl games now.
Odds are good we'll only have 76 bowl-eligible teams, according to the classical definition. This means some 5-7 teams are going bowling.
The NCAA has a built-in rule for this, using Academic Progress Rate as a fallback qualifier. But nobody knows how this comes into play.
I'm taking a wild stab in the dark here by grabbing the four highest APR teams that aren't already eligible (Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, San Jose State) and putting them with what happen to be available conference ties. Will those teams be offered? Would they even accept? Is this sport always impossibly ridiculous? I don't know; I don't know; yes.
Anyway, this week's angriest fans will be Washington State's. I'm just guessing and am not actually in charge of anything. I just don't see the Holiday Bowl going with a more distant, smaller school that has fewer wins and less attendance than Utah, and if the Foster Farms Bowl is stuck with one of those 5-7 Big Ten teams, it's kind of got to reach for a big name from the Pac-12, right?