Now that we have actual College Football Playoff committee rankings to work with, bowl projections for the whole 2017 postseason should be a lot easier!
Aaaaand now that the Big Ten’s hemorrhaging contenders, two other power conferences have themselves in tight jams, and Notre Dame’s crashing the picture, none of this is any easier. And that’s just at the top level. Wait ‘til you see the rest of these bowl games.
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.
College Football Playoff
- Championship (Atlanta): Georgia vs. Clemson
- Sugar (New Orleans): No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Wisconsin
- Rose (Pasadena, CA): No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
This week’s changes: UGA beating Bama in the SEC title game, Ohio State out, Clemson and Notre Dame up (the Irish might top the Tigers again in Week 11’s CFP rankings, but Clemson might finish with the slightly more loaded of two quite loaded schedules), and Wisconsin in as a 13-0 No. 4 seed whose best win is over a 9-4 Big Ten East champion Ohio State (lol). (UW’s schedule is fine. The actual worry, released in full after I’d made most of these picks on Sunday: this injury list.)
That gives us an old rivalry game in the National Championship and Waffle Houses bursting at the seams.
The three groups out:
- The Pac-12 remains in a perilous spot, with Washington having a light schedule and an ugly loss. With Notre Dame a worthy factor, even a 12-1 UW isn’t guaranteed a spot.
- The Big 12 is also in a pickle, with either TCU or Oklahoma falling to two losses after their game next weekend ... and then quite possibly having a chance to return the favor weeks later in the new Big 12 Championship. Winning at Norman is hard. Having to beat Gary Patterson twice in one year? Bruh.
- Barring way more mayhem, likely mid-major rep UCF ain’t getting in. Source: the word “mid-major.”
New Year's Six
- Peach (Atlanta): Auburn vs. UCF
- Orange (Miami): Miami vs. Alabama
- Fiesta (Glendale, Ariz.): Oklahoma vs. Washington
- Cotton (Arlington, Texas): TCU vs. Michigan State
The Orange gets the top non-CFP teams from the ACC and the Big Ten/SEC/Notre Dame group. Sorry, Canes!
The other three are at-larges, based on rankings. Everything is a total mess right now. Just gonna keep saying that.
The Big 12 champs (TCU) and Pac-12 champs (Washington) are guaranteed spots, as is the top mid-major champ (UCF). If Auburn goes 9-3 with nothing but close losses to good teams and a win over Georgia or Alabama, the Tigers are a safe pick here. The Big Ten East is a total morass, but let’s go for now with the Spartans, jumping Penn State via tougher schedule and head-to-head.
- Citrus (Orlando): Penn State vs. South Carolina
- Outback (Tampa): Michigan vs. LSU
- Liberty (Memphis): Iowa State vs. Kentucky
- TaxSlayer (Jacksonville): NC State vs. Missouri
- Arizona (Tucson): San Diego State vs. New Mexico State
- Music City (Nashville): Indiana vs. Texas A&M
- Sun (El Paso): Virginia vs. Utah
- Belk (Charlotte): Louisville vs. Marshall
- Alamo (San Antonio): Kansas State vs. USC
- Camping World (Orlando): Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State
- Military (Annapolis, Md.): Boston College vs. Navy
- Texas (Houston): Texas vs. Mississippi State
- Pinstripe (New York City): Syracuse vs. Iowa
- Independence (Shreveport, La.): Florida State vs. MTSU
- Cactus (Tempe): West Virginia vs. Stanford
- Heart of Dallas: Wyoming vs. UCLA
- Quick Lane (Detroit): Wake Forest vs. EMU
- Holiday (San Diego): Ohio State vs. Arizona
- Foster Farms (Santa Clara, Calif.): Northwestern vs. Washington State
- Hawaii: WKU vs. Fresno State
- Dollar General (Mobile, Ala.): Toledo vs. Appalachian State
- Armed Forces (Fort Worth): Army vs. UTSA
- Birmingham: Memphis vs. Georgia State
- Potato (Boise): CMU vs. Air Force
- Bahamas: UAB vs. Ohio
- St. Petersburg: SMU vs. FIU
- Frisco (Texas): Houston vs. Utah State
- Boca Raton: USF vs. FAU
- Camellia (Montgomery, Ala.): NIU vs. Troy
- New Mexico (Albuquerque): North Texas vs. Colorado State
- Las Vegas: Boise State vs. Oregon
- Cure (Orlando): Southern Miss vs. UL Lafayette
- New Orleans: Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech
For real, this might be the sloppiest damn bowl picture I’ve ever seen in seven years of doing these. Lots of conferences taking spots vacated by other conferences (Marshall in the Belk?? FSU-UCLA??), three 6-6 teams (Akron, the MAC’s Miami, and Utah State) not making it in, and just a whole lot of wtf all over. I’ve tried to avoid rematches and repeats and things that would make your fan base mad, but good heavens.
Have fun, actual bowl committees!
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.