We’ve yet to see a single conference take up two spots in the College Football Playoff. Every year so far, it’s become a topic in November, because we all know it’s gonna happen some day. Right now, there’s a path for the SEC in 2017.
Each week, I update a board of picks and results for every game on the schedule, then see which postseason that’d give us. Below are this week’s updated guesses. This is not an “if the season ended today” picture; these are predictions on how it’ll look at the end.
If the Big 12 and Pac-12 champs both have multiple losses, a spot’s wide open for the SEC title game loser, if that team has only one loss (or Big Ten title game loser, though Wisconsin’s resume will be weak if it doesn’t reach 13-0), or Notre Dame. Well, what if the SEC title game loser has a win at Notre Dame’s house that just looks better by the week?
College Football Playoff
- Championship (Atlanta): Alabama vs. Ohio State
- Sugar (New Orleans): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Clemson
- Rose (Pasadena, CA): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Georgia
This week’s only changes: Georgia in for Oklahoma, and Ohio State up from No. 3 to No. 2.
Think this can’t happen? Look at it this way:
Say Georgia’s No. 1 and Alabama’s No. 2 entering the SEC Championship. (UGA will probably be No. 1 this Tuesday, fwiw.) Say Bama wins, perhaps due to having a more battle-tested QB. Why should Georgia fall out of the top four? We already know you don’t need a conference title to make the Playoff, and UGA would at least have a division title. The Dawgs would have a more defensible loss than anybody in the country. They’d have a win at Notre Dame, which could very well be a road win over No. 5 (aka the second-best win by any contender, assuming Oklahoma drops another game), and six or so other wins over bowl teams, which would only be one or two behind the other contenders. They’ve also won big.
No. 4 came down to Clemson vs. Notre Dame. Let’s go to the committee’s four stated tiebreakers: They won’t have played head-to-head, the Irish could have a slight schedule advantage, and the Tigers would have the conference title edge (and more “data points,” to use a committee term). That could mean performance vs. common opponents seals it; they might both have played Boston College, Miami, NC State, and Wake Forest. I think the Tigers are the slightly safer pick right now.
If you don’t like this, root for Auburn, which hosts both Bama and UGA in November.
New Year's Six
- Peach (Atlanta): Wisconsin vs. UCF
- Orange (Miami): Virginia Tech vs. Notre Dame
- Fiesta (Glendale, Ariz.): Oklahoma State vs. USC
- Cotton (Arlington, Texas): Oklahoma vs. Penn State
This week, I swapped Virginia Tech in for the tightrope-walking Miami as the ACC’s Orange autobid. The top-ranked Big Ten/SEC/Notre Dame team gets the other spot in that game.
The other three bowls here are at-larges, based on rankings. I moved Oklahoma State in for TCU, despite the head-to-head.
One spot in this group automatically goes to a mid-major champ, and UCF is running away with that race right now.
- Citrus (Orlando): Michigan State vs. LSU
- Outback (Tampa): Michigan vs. Auburn
- Liberty (Memphis): Iowa State vs. Kentucky
- TaxSlayer (Jacksonville): Louisville vs. South Carolina
- Arizona (Tucson): San Diego State vs. New Mexico State
- Music City (Nashville): Indiana vs. Texas A&M
- Sun (El Paso): NC State vs. Utah
- Belk (Charlotte): Georgia Tech vs. Vanderbilt
- Alamo (San Antonio): TCU vs. Washington
- Camping World (Orlando): Miami vs. Texas
- Military (Annapolis, Md.): Wake Forest vs. Navy
- Texas (Houston): Texas Tech vs. Mississippi State
- Pinstripe (New York City): Syracuse vs. Nebraska
- Independence (Shreveport, La.): Duke vs. UAB
- Cactus (Tempe): Kansas State vs. Washington State
- Heart of Dallas: West Virginia vs. UCLA
- Quick Lane (Detroit): Boston College vs. EMU
- Holiday (San Diego): Iowa vs. Arizona
- Foster Farms (Santa Clara, Calif.): Northwestern vs. Stanford
- Hawaii: WKU vs. Hawaii
- Dollar General (Mobile, Ala.): Toledo vs. Appalachian State
- Armed Forces (Fort Worth): Army vs. Southern Miss
- Birmingham: Memphis vs. WMU
- Potato (Boise): CMU vs. Air Force
- Bahamas: Marshall vs. Ohio
- St. Petersburg: SMU vs. North Texas
- Frisco (Texas): Houston vs. Fresno State
- Boca Raton: USF vs. FAU
- Camellia (Montgomery, Ala.): NIU vs. Arkansas State
- New Mexico (Albuquerque): UTSA vs. Colorado State
- Las Vegas: Boise State vs. Oregon
- Cure (Orlando): FIU vs. Georgia State
- New Orleans: Troy vs. Louisiana Tech
Leaving us this week: Arizona State (due to flipping the Territorial Cup to a raging Arizona), Florida State (though the Noles might be able to schedule a last-minute game during conference championship weekend, to make up for their hurricane-canceled game and keep their bowl streak alive), and Tennessee.
Joining us: OFFENSIVE JUGGERNAUT BOSTON COLLEGE and a couple of teams there wasn’t room for last week.
The biggest thing to keep in mind: These are not based entirely on current or final standings. Each conference has its own bowl rules, but bowl games prefer matchups that will bring in fans and make money, not bowl games that reward teams that played well. Often, those two things are the same. Often, they’re not.
As always, I apologize for overrating and/or underrating your team.
What do you think?
Let’s also tune these up a little after the first Playoff rankings come out on Tuesday.