Bowl Predictions 2014: Week 4

Okay, the new predictions are up. Let’s do a quick overview.

The Playoff
So this is the scenario I was faced with when I was done projecting everyone’s record:

You can see what I wound up with on the page. I decided that taking the four best teams would be the committee’s top priority, and given that, I had to take Mississippi State over Oregon.

As for the other access bowls, this week I put Clemson in over Duke. With Auburn loss this past weekend, my projected loss to Alabama will give them three losses overall, and I think the committee will probably eschew 3-loss teams if there are enough 2-loss teams. So I matched Clemson up with Nebraska.

East Carolina is still my best guess for the Group of Five slot. They’ll have two losses but they will still have the best resume of any of the available teams. It pains me to see Marshall not get a chance, but those are just the breaks. (Speaking of Marshall, for the past few weeks I’ve tried to use the Heart of Dallas Bowl to give them a matchup with a major conference foe, but that may not work out if there aren’t enough Big 12 teams.)

The other access bowls were about matchups. I liked the idea of having a “Rose Bowl in Exile”, if you will, between Ohio State and Oregon, so I put that in Dallas. The Peach will wind up falling on the sword, as for lack of better ideas I gave them UCLA and East Carolina. Hopefully the next couple of weeks will clear things up on this front.

I’m now projecting Notre Dame to lose three games, which means they fall into the ACC’s bowl hierarchy. Notre Dame doesn’t get a lot of games against SEC teams, so I figure they’ll slot into one of the ACC’s matchups against a SEC team. In this case, I sent them to the Music City Bowl.

This causes headaches for the rest of the league, but in the end I was able to accommodate everyone. As a side note, I think this will be a very tough year for the Belk Bowl to get a North Carolina team, but then again the matchups are out of the hands of the bowls now anyway (for most conferences). With Utah slotting into the Sun Bowl, one of my goals was definitely to avoid a rematch of the 2012 Sun Bowl with them and Georgia Tech. Also, Miami went to the Sun Bowl in 2010, which is still relatively recent.

Big 12
Right now the Texas-Oklahoma State looks like it will determine which team gets to go a bowl game. Based on recent play, I picked Texas to go to… the Texas bowl.

Big Ten
I tried to avoid sending Rutgers to the Pinstripe bowl because they went there last year, and besides, I figure Penn State is close enough. (Also, Penn State fans should be happy about getting to go to any bowl, considering.)

I tried to create a Washington-Boise State matchup in the Las Vegas Bowl, except it causing other issues. I also then had the bright idea to look up Boise’s upcoming out-of-conference games, and sure enough they’re going to kick off the 2015 season against the Huskies. So that’s out.

Otherwise, with three Pac-12 teams getting into the Committee-controlled bowls that throws a bit of a wrench into the works. It’s worth noting that the way the whole thing is set up every year there will be at least one of the Power 5 conferences getting three teams in.

Missouri (you know, the team that lost to Indiana a while back) is probably going to win the SEC East, mostly because (like Duke in the ACC) they dodge all the contenders from the SEC West. Georgia, meanwhile, has a permanent rivalry game against what I’m sure will be a pissed-off Auburn team this coming weekend.

(Dear Mike Slive: before you retire, consider my advice. It would have really helped your conference this year!)

So what’s probably going to happen is this awkward situation where Missouri is going to get blasted by Alabama or Mississippi State in the SEC Championship game, but they’ll still be 10-3 at that point so out of obligation the Citrus Bowl will take them. Meanwhile, the SEC West, having beat each other up to the point where LSU and Ole Miss have three losses (and Auburn four) probably won’t send any more teams to the Committee bowls.

But hey, there’s still four weekends of football left to be played. A lot can happen, and this will probably all be different next week.