Bowl Predictions 2014: Week 3

Okay, as announced previously the predictions are up. Since it’s so late in the week already I’m not going to go too deep into it this time, though there haven’t been any results that would change anything.

The Playoff
The one thing is that I don’t really care for waiting around until Tuesday for the CFP Poll to be released. Also, since I’m doing a predictive set of, well, predictions the poll doesn’t contain that much relevance to me.

What relevance I can try to glean, though, is perhaps how the committee thinks. Right now, the committee’s top 10 is:

  1. Mississippi State
  2. Florida State
  3. Auburn
  4. Oregon
  5. Alabama
  6. Texas Christian
  7. Kansas State
  8. Michigan State
  9. Arizona State
  10. Notre Dame

Which makes sense. The two undefeated teams are at the time, followed by a pretty defensible ranking of the 1-loss teams. I don’t think anyone is screaming bloody murder about this, except for maybe Notre Dame fans. (As the joke goes, though, Notre Dame’s best “win” might be their narrow loss to Florida State.)

So what can we tell, though? Well, most metrics have Mississippi State as a better team than Florida State. In fact, many advanced stats don’t think very highly of FSU at all. This definitely isn’t last year’s utterly dominant FSU team. Last year FSU had only one game decided by less than a touchdown: the win over Auburn in Pasadena.This year, they’ve had two, and Clemson took them to the brink. (If anything, Clemson probably should have won that game.) The main difference is the defense, which simply suffocated opposing offenses, while this year they have been slightly more porous.

That said, Miss State has been somewhat shaky since their dog became the top in college football. After a decisive win over Auburn in early October, the Bulldogs have since struggled a little with Kentucky and Arkansas.

But, again, these are major college football’s only two undefeated teams, and any poll conducted by humans is going to put them at the top. I can’t blame them for that.

And again, what I’m interested in is what will happen.

My prediction for the end-of-season top six is:

  1. Florida State, as the only undefeated team left
  2. Alabama, as SEC champions, having beaten Mississippi State and Auburn
  3. Mississippi State, with their only loss being to Alabama
  4. Oregon, Pac-12 champions and a win over Michigan State (and necessarily Arizona State)
  5. Michigan State, Big Ten champions (best predicted wins: Nebraska twice, Ohio State)
  6. Kansas State, Big 12 champions (best predicted wins: TCU and Baylor)

Obviously, a lot can change between then and now. But the conventional wisdom seems to be that the committee is valuing best wins over best losses, and if that holds, then I think my top six is reasonable.

Filling out the other “access bowls” remains difficult. I will probably switch out Clemson for Duke at some point. I still have East Carolina as the Group of Five representative, because I have no clue who to put there even though they lost to Temple.

I need to work on the weekend TV guide, so I will eschew the conference breakdowns this week.