One more week (5 days really). We are very close to knowing the four teams that will compete in the inaugural college football playoff, or FBS playoff at least. I realize that my take is not the same as the selection committee’s or several “expert analysts”, but if it was then that would be pretty boring right?
Sugar Bowl (#1-#4)- Florida State vs. Alabama
No changes in the playoff this week. This is actually probably the most favorable potential playoff matchup for Alabama. Based on what we saw on Saturday, Alabama would have serious trouble defending Oregon, TCU, or Baylor. I have Ohio State in my playoff, but I understand that most don’t (more on that later). Florida State keeps gutting out wins. Everyone keeps thinking that they will eventually lose one of those, but are we so sure they will? They do have a tough matchup this week in the ACC Championship game with Georgia Tech.
Rose Bowl (#2-#3)- Oregon vs. Ohio State
I realize that J.T. Barrett’s injury changes things for the selection committee, and that I am much higher on them than the committee anyway. I’m choosing to let them stand pat for now, and we will see what they do with Cardale Jones against Wisconsin. If they lose, this makes it easy. If they blow Wisconsin out, I believe that they should and would go. What will be really difficult is if they win in a very close game. I’m not sure how I, or the powers that be, would view Ohio State if that were the case. Meanwhile, Oregon looks dominant. If I had to pick a team to win it all right now, I’d pick the Ducks.
Fiesta Bowl- Boise State vs. Arizona
This is also what ESPN is projected for the Fiesta Bowl at the present moment. This makes the most sense, considering it would keep Arizona close to home and Boise State is significantly closer to Scottsdale than the other three. Boise State has flown under the radar since losing to Ole Miss in their opener, but they have rebounded nicely going 10-2. The only way they won’t be in the Fiesta Bowl is if they lose to Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship game.
Orange Bowl- Wisconsin vs. Georgia Tech
So, I’ve been overlooking a selection committee rule. The Orange Bowl is obligated to take an ACC team, whether it is the champion or a replacement if the champion goes to the playoff. Which pretty much means that Georgia Tech is playing in the Orange Bowl no matter what. Either they win the conference by beating Florida State, or they lose and Florida State ends up in the playoff. I don’t think Clemson, Louisville, or Duke (all 9-3) would jump a 10-3 Georgia Tech. They will face the highest-ranked team from either the Big 10 or the SEC (or Notre Dame but we all know how their season ended). I’m thinking that they will take the Big 10 this year. According to the AP and Coaches’ Polls that would be Michigan State, but I have Wisconsin there. Of course, that will probably change because they will either beat Ohio State and win the division, or lose to them and get bypassed by Michigan State.
Cotton Bowl- TCU vs. Mississippi State
I might be the only person in America, besides Danny Kanell and the Columbus Dispatch, to not have TCU in the playoff. They will get in the playoff in reality probably, but these are my rankings and not reality. Should TCU get left out (and still have just one loss), then they are almost guaranteed to be in the Cotton Bowl. I also think that the committee would love to send an SEC West team to the Cotton Bowl, I know I would. So, basically what I’m saying is that Mississippi State will be playing in the Cotton Bowl.
Peach Bowl- Baylor vs. Michigan State
Michigan State might end up in the Orange Bowl, but if Wisconsin beats Ohio State and both of those teams end up ahead of them then they would still probably end up in one of the other three bowls. I think that the Peach is the most likely destination for them, given the reasons I listed above for the teams playing in the Cotton and Fiesta. For now, I’m sending Baylor here, but if TCU makes the playoff they will likely be in the Cotton Bowl. If Baylor were to end up in the Cotton Bowl, this gets tricky because we may be looking at another Big 10 team here but I know the selection committee will avoid a rematch at all costs. The only thing I can think of in that case is to relocate Boise State to Atlanta against a Big 10 team, and send the other Big 10 team out to Scottsdale to play Arizona. For example, it could look something like: Ohio State vs. Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, Michigan State vs. Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl, and Wisconsin vs. Boise State in the Peach Bowl.
- Florida State
- Ohio State
- Michigan State
- Georgia Tech
- Mississippi State
- Kansas State
- Ole Miss
- Boise State
- Arizona State