Well, it was definitely an interesting final weekend of the regular season, including an upset that definitely made these predictions harder without knowing how the Committee will act.
The good news is that there’s definitely enough teams, but just barely. 79 teams are eligible for bowl games, but only 78 will be able to play into December and/or January.
None of the Power 5 conferences will be able to fill all their bids, so I had to improvise a fair bit. I generally moved AAC teams up where I felt like I could, and then filled in the gaps that left in the lower-tier bowls.
So let’s start with the play-off. I am operating under the assumption that Ohio State, LSU, and Clemson will win their conference championship games. So that’s easy. The hard part essentially boils down to: if Utah beats Oregon to win the Pac-12, can they get in over a 2-loss Georgia or 1-loss Oklahoma? From attempting to read the tea leaves of the committee rankings so far, I think they will. I don’t necessarily agree with it, as I’d rather see Oklahoma there, but alas.
So the next crucial question is: how far does Alabama drop this week, and if Georgia loses, how far do they drop in relation to Alabama? Whoever is ranked higher will be the Sugar Bowl bid. Similarly, how much will their loss hurt Minnesota? Penn State now has to be the favorite for the Rose Bowl, shutting out both Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Let’s examine some other talking points real quick:
- With four SEC teams in the New Year’s Six collection of bowls, we’re looking at some interesting decisions the lower-tier SEC bowls will have to make. The Birmingham, Liberty, Music City, and Independence all get left out in my reckoning. I sent UCF to play Oklahoma State in the Liberty and Cincinnati to the Music City. I don’t know what these bowls will actually do, but pulling up the strong AAC teams was my best guess. The other thing I may need to do is refer back to the list of ESPN-owned bowls, as that provides many opportunities for surprise re-arrangements.
- The bowl game I’ve decided I really need to happen the Redbox Bowl. In computer science circles, Illinois and Cal are known as UIUC and Berkeley, respectively, and between them they were/are responsible for many of the most important innovations in computing. Among other things, the first successful Web browser was originally developed at UIUC; Berkeley developed BSD, which plays a major role in the history of computer operating systems that aren’t Windows (which, with the advent of smartphones, is the vast majority of OSes running the wild today).
- Otherwise, I may need to edit these predictions later this week, based on the Committee rankings. There’s a few bowl slots already confirmed, but otherwise I will try to get the last set of projections out late Saturday/early Sunday.