Come and get ’em!
Okay, this is the second-to-last edition. We’ve even got our first confirmed pairing: UAB vs. Ohio in the Bahamas Bowl. (Welcome back, Blazers!) But we’ve also got more chaos than ever in the playoff picture. Let’s talk about that, bullet-point style.
- Here’s the not-controversial part, maybe other than where they’re ranked: ACC champion, SEC champion, Oklahoma if they beat TCU in the Big 12 championship.
- So that’s the three. Who’s the fourth? Well, if Wisconsin beats Ohio State in the Big Ten championship, then there’s no debate that undefeated Wisconsin will be in. But what if Ohio State beats Wisconsin? Does 2-loss Big Ten champ Ohio State get in over 1-loss Alabama? The arguments are otherwise very similar, but Ohio State has an edge over Alabama in terms of strength-of-schedule (reminder, Alabama’s best win is LSU) and a conference championship.
- So this is why I’m projecting #1 Auburn vs. #4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl and #2 Auburn vs. #3 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.
- Alabama, as the highest ranked team from the SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame, would get an Orange Bowl bid, matched against Miami.
- The other notable thing is that with the loss to Pitt, I had a hard time putting Notre Dame in the New Year’s Six over TCU. I’m not completely sure on this, but I think a three-loss Notre Dame will drop like a rock in the rankings.
- Alabama would have to go to the Orange as per the rules, assuming Georgia falls below them if they lose to Auburn in the SEC championship. The Committee may send UGA out west instead of putting them in Atlanta for the 3rd time in just over a month, but I think if the Peach winds up with Central Florida they’ll want a strong local draw.
Other news and notes:
- Currently there are 79 bowl eligible teams, and I’m projecting Florida State and New Mexico State to get eligible this weekend, for a total of 81. With the demise of the Poinsettia Bowl, that means there’s 78 bids available, so there’s three extra teams.
- With the SEC getting 3 teams into the New Year’s Six, that leaves less than 7 SEC teams available for their top-tier berths. I have the Liberty Bowl getting the short end of the stick.
- The Pac-12, meanwhile, has the opposite problem. They have only 5 berths after the NY6, and I’m projecting only the Pac-12 champion to get in. They 9 total eligible teams, though, so I’m figuring Utah and UCLA will be left out. A tweet indicated that Independence Bowl representatives were at the UCLA-Cal game Saturday, but that would require a swap to be arranged since the Independence has an arrangement with Conference-USA already.
- With Notre Dame not getting into the NY6, I have them pipping the first available ACC bowl slot, bumping everyone else down a spot. I wound up putting newly eligible Duke in the Birmingham Bowl.
- Even if they’ve been there a lot recently, I think Oklahoma State is the most exciting option for the Alamo Bowl from the Big 12.
- If the Big 12 gets both Oklahoma and TCU in the NY6, that really dashes the chances of Texas in the Texas Bowl against Texas A&M.
- I didn’t want to send Stanford to San Diego for the second time this season (they played at San Diego State back in September), but I think the Holiday will like getting a Stanford team that’s finished strong down there. And the weather everywhere in California is nice, but San Diego it’s always just that much nicer.
That’s it for now. I expect some other minor bids to be announced during the week, and that I will have to hustle to get a new set of projections out this Saturday to stay ahead of the news. Until then!