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Final bowl projections, now that the College Football Playoff is official

Update: The College Football Playoff is official. Go here for the up-to-the-minute bowl calendar:

SB Nation 2015 Bowl Calendar

Clemson will host a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Orange Bowl. Alabama will host a Playoff semifinal at the Cotton Bowl. Michigan State and Oklahoma will be the road teams.

Now we wait until 12:30 p.m. ET or so to find out the seeding, which determines exactly which teams are facing each other in the Playoff on New Year's Eve.

If Clemson remains No. 1 after squeaking past No. 10 North Carolina with the aid of a botched call by ACC refs, despite Alabama dominating No. 18 Florida for the majority of the SEC Championship and winning comfortably (Bama was outgaining Florida by 319 yards at one point, so, yeah), that still wouldn't tell us exactly which teams the Tigers and Tide would face next. That could happen, by the way, since the committee's said it's considered moving Bama to No. 1 for weeks and the Tide have more wins over winning teams than anybody else does.

Oklahoma entered the weekend at No. 3, then relaxed as No. 5 Michigan State beat No. 4 Iowa in all-time Big Ten fashion. That win, plus the general strength of MSU's schedule, could certainly inspire the committee to move the Spartans up to No. 3. However, the Spartans' lack of truly dominant performances could be a factor.

Think this is the best guess right now:

College Football Playoff (bold = done deal)
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


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There's not much more drama in the next group, but bear with me. The Sugar Bowl is already set, Stanford's already in the Rose Bowl, and almost everyone else is close to being in place.

The main quarrel the committee will have to figure out is whether to drop previous No. 4 Iowa below No. 6 Ohio State for losing a close one to No. 5 Michigan State, a thing OSU also did. That will decide the Big Ten's Rose bid, as the bowl's indicating it'll take the highest-ranked non-Playoff team, no matter what.

I think the Buckeyes rank higher. OSU has six wins over .500-plus FBS teams; Iowa has four. OSU has the better scoring margin despite the tougher-ish schedule. The committee can't cite advanced stats in its discussions, but any computer rating you want to look up will tell you the Buckeyes were better this season.

That means Florida State, Houston, Iowa, and Notre Dame get sorted based largely on geography and partly on matchups. FSU's basically a lock for the Peach due to location, and let's say the committee splits up the two biggest brand names, FSU and ND, which played last year anyway.

New Year's Six bowls (bold = done deal)
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 Oklahoma State Ole Miss January 1 New Orleans Big 12 1 vs. SEC 1
Peach Florida State Iowa December 31 Atlanta At-large

And now for the real fun, which the Playoff committee has nothing directly to do with. For most of these matchups, it's all about individual bowls jostling to make enough money to justify doing this again for a few more years.

There's a lot more guessing in this group, but things shouldn't be too far off.

Bowl (bold = done deal, * = filling another conference's bid) 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 Arizona State 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 Georgia 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 USC December 30 San Diego Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3
Music City Louisville Texas A&M 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 Cal* Air Force December 29 Fort Worth, TX Big Ten vs. MWC
Russell Athletic North Carolina Baylor December 29 Orlando ACC 2 vs. Big 12 3
Texas Texas Tech LSU December 29 Houston Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8
Military NC State Navy December 28 Annapolis, MD ACC vs. American
Quick Lane Pitt Minnesota December 28 Detroit ACC vs. Big Ten
Foster Farms Nebraska UCLA December 26 Santa Clara, CA Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4
Heart of Dallas Washington* Southern Miss December 26 Dallas Big 12 7 vs. C-USA
Independence Akron* Utah State* December 26 Shreveport, LA ACC vs. SEC (C-USA backup)
Pinstripe Duke 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 Utah December 26 El Paso ACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5
Bahamas Middle Tennessee Western Michigan December 24 Nassau, BS C-USA vs. MAC
Hawaii Cincinnati 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 Temple Toledo December 22 Boca Raton, FL American vs. MAC
Potato Ohio Boise State December 22 Boise, ID MAC 2 vs. MWC
Miami Beach USF Western Kentucky December 21 Miami American vs. C-USA
Camelia Northern Illinois Appalachian State December 19 Montgomery, AL MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3
Cure Tulsa Georgia State December 19 Orlando American vs. Sun Belt
Las Vegas BYU Washington State 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

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