Monday, November 17, 2014

Bowl Predictions 2014: Week 5

The predictions are up. Let's discuss them briefly.

The Playoff
Here's that chart again:
This chart isn't really in any sort of order. The predictions page reflects my final seeds. FSU is basically only in because I figure the committee will lend considerable weight to an undefeated schedule. If FSU loses at all their resume will put them definitively out. The fact that the team they play in the ACC Championship Game will have the best record of any team they face all season is a huge problem for the Seminoles.

At this point no team other than Oregon is going to get in from the Pac-12.

Overall, I don't think there's room for a two loss team unless all hell breaks loose, and well, that could happen, but I'll deal with it if we get there.

I personally value the number of "good wins" above all else, so the seeds are a combination of what I think is important and what I'm guessing the committee will think is important. Since they haven't shown a willingness to put FSU at #1, and indeed dropped them to #3 last week, I think they'll be in the top four if they win out for sure, but anything other than that isn't guaranteed. So I put them at #3, behind Alabama and Oregon.

Then the question is, who is #4? Your contenders are Baylor, Mississippi State, TCU, and Ohio State. This is a horrifically close call, but figures that in year one of this new thing we'll already get a pretty strong case for an eight-team playoff. (Then again, that probably just means we'd be arguing about who #8 is.) I went with Baylor. The following arguments are in their favor: they're co-Big 12 Champions with TCU, they beat TCU head-to-head, and also have the same good wins TCU has. I like them over Miss State and Ohio State because they have better wins than both (in TCU) and Ohio State's loss to Virginia Tech becomes more inexplicable every week.

A lot can happen, though. Here's each team's remaining schedule:
  • Alabama (projected #1): West Carolina (W), Auburn (I'm predicting a win), if they finish tied or better than Miss State, they will go to the SEC Championship where they will probably play Missouri or maybe Georgia. They will be favored against either, but neither provides a huge resume boost at this point. (Hey, remember that time Mizzou lost to Indiana? The Hoosiers are probably going to be transitive SEC East Champs.)
  • Oregon (projected #2): Colorado (probable win), @Oregon State (probable win, but on the road in what is sometimes a wacky rivalry game), Pac-12 title game, probably against UCLA, but also could be against Southern Cal, Arizona St, or Arizona. For best win purposes, Oregon probably would prefer to face UCLA. Facing USC is probably the worst case.
  • Florida State (projected #3): Boston College (probable W), Florida (probable W), Duke or Georgia Tech. FSU probably really wishes that Oklahoma State wasn't have a down year, as that would really help them in the strength of schedule department. 
  • Baylor (projected #4): Oklahoma State (probable W), Texas Tech (W), Kansas State (very tough W). TCU handled K-State pretty easily, but nonetheless that gives them the biggest potential prize on anyone's remaining schedule. The flip side of that, of course, is that gives them the hardest schedule in this group.
  • Texas Christian: Texas (probable W), Iowa State (W). Not much else to say about this one, but boy howdy did TCU make it interesting against Kansas last weekend or what? For now, I'll chalk that up to playing a bit down to their opposition, but they won't be able to get away with that against Texas.
  • Ohio State: Indiana (W), Michigan (probable W), Big Ten championship game, probably Wisconsin. The Buckeyes stalled a bit against Minnesota last weekend, but they'll be able to get things tuned again with their remaining regular season schedule. That said, I suspect they will really wish that, say, Baylor and FSU lose. Probably Miss State too, for good measure.
  • Mississippi State: Vanderbilt (W), Mississippi (?), SEC championship only if they win out and Alabama loses to Auburn. The game against Ole Miss will be tough, but I have them winning it. Playing in the SEC Championship wouldn't give them a boost in and of itself, it would just give them the title "SEC Champion", which may count for a lot at the end of this thing.
As for the other "access bowls", they remain a guesswork. East Carolina's loss to Cincinnati last Thursday eliminated them from contention for a spot, so for now I've slotted Colorado State there. Who and where they will play remain a mystery to me.

Next week I hope that research will enable to start eliminating a lot of the guesswork, but with conferences holding more of the cards now, even the usual "representatives from these bowl games were there" articles won't help as much as they did in the past.

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