OK time to bring out my inner Jerry Palm (or (insert your bowl projection expert here)). It’s bowl projection time. I have been doing this for the past month but even last week would have been way, way too early. Now it’s just way too early. But still somewhat relevant (kinda sorta maybe).
Every week we see about 640 different projections that all look like this:
Which is great. Let the people who cover the game often give their reasons as to why they put certain teams in their “bracket” (I hope they don’t overuse that word with the College Football Playoff). The problem is two-fold. One, it seems like ESPN employs 97.5% of the people who put out these projections. And two, and also more importantly, they are looking at it as of this very moment. Which is perfect…if the season ended now. But it isn’t. We still have five fantastic weeks left to figure this thing out. And most of the people doing these projections aren’t looking toward the future. Who’s In doesn’t matter if you aren’t thinking about their remaining schedule.
What I have done is, in essence, played out the rest of the games, picking winners for each. I had already done that before the season began so it took no time to figure out how a team will do with their last two or three opponents (and possibly a conference championship game). Plus, I wouldn’t even worry about a third of the teams because they were already eliminated from bowl contention or will be in the next week or so.
So let’s start with the College Football Playoff itself. I project, at this point, that it will look like this:
|Sugar Bowl||Florida State||Mississippi State|
|Rose Bowl||Michigan State||Oregon|
So now into my reasoning. The first three are easy. Florida State runs the table, wins the ACC. Easy pick. Michigan State and Oregon do the same. Again, fairly easy. Here is where I may get a lot of flak (if I had a lot more readers). The SEC West is going to beat up on each other plain and simple. And while they are the best division in the best conference in college football, losing two games makes it difficult to allow more than one of you to be included in a four-team playoff. And because it’s the SEC, it will be the main proponent, 12 years from now, to why they expand to an eight-team playoff (5 conference champs from Power Five conferences, best team from Weak Sisters of the Poor Conferences, best two teams remaining). For now, we will have to live with the fact that it’s the team that comes out of the rubble as champ that will be in the playoff and that’s Mississippi State.
As for the New Year’s Six, this is where the SEC dominance starts to show:
|January 1, 2015||1:00||Cotton Bowl||Kansas State||Georgia|
|December 31, 2014||8:30||Orange Bowl||Duke||Auburn|
|December 31, 2014||5:00||Fiesta Bowl||Marshall||Ole Miss|
|December 31, 2014||1:30||Peach Bowl||Alabama||Ohio State|
Notice there is an SEC team in every one of the other four bowls? So out of the twelve teams selected, five will be from the SEC. There’s your dominance. And really, at this point you could substitute Alabama, Auburn, or even Ole Miss into Mississippi State’s spot and no one would bat an eye. The spot reserved for the mid-major (let’s be nice here for once) will be one of the more interesting things to follow. Right now, in my estimation, it is Marshall’s spot to lose. There might be a wrinkle in that plan though. Colorado State is arguably the only team left that could potentially unseat Marshall but they have a big blue problem in their way…their loss to divisional rival Boise State. It’s the one thing that would keep them out of the New Year’s Six spot. That all goes out the window if the Broncos lose one of their four remaining games. Then CSU is back in the driver’s seat to go to the Mountain West Championship (which I am sure CBS is praying for so that game can bring in some big ratings).
The rest of the bowls, if you wanted to know, play out like this (in my head):
|January 4, 2015||9:00||GoDaddy Bowl||Northern Illinois||Louisiana|
|January 3, 2015||1:00||Birmingham Bowl||Memphis||Air Force|
|January 2, 2015||10:15||Cactus Bowl||Texas||Utah|
|January 2, 2015||6:45||Alamo Bowl||Baylor||Arizona|
|January 2, 2015||3:20||TaxSlayer Bowl||Georgia Tech||Florida|
|January 2, 2015||12:00||Armed Forces Bowl||Fresno State||Houston|
|January 1, 2015||1:00||Outback Bowl||Notre Dame||Wisconsin|
|January 1, 2015||12:30||Citrus Bowl||Nebraska||LSU|
|December 30, 2014||10:00||San Francisco Bowl||Maryland||Arizona State|
|December 30, 2014||6:45||Belk Bowl||Boston College||South Carolina|
|December 30, 2014||3:00||Music City Bowl||Minnesota||Missouri|
|December 29, 2014||9:00||Texas Bowl||Texas A&M||West Virginia|
|December 29, 2014||5:30||Russell Athletic Bowl||Clemson||Oklahoma|
|December 29, 2014||2:00||Liberty Bowl||Tennessee||TCU|
|December 27, 2014||8:00||Holiday Bowl||Iowa||UCLA|
|December 27, 2014||4:30||Pinstripe Bowl||Miami||Penn State|
|December 27, 2014||4:00||Independence Bowl||Akron||Louisiana Tech|
|December 27, 2014||2:00||Sun Bowl||Louisville||Washington|
|December 27, 2014||1:00||Military Bowl||NC State||East Carolina|
|December 26, 2014||8:00||Bitcoin Bowl||North Carolina||Cincinnati|
|December 26, 2014||4:30||Detroit Bowl||Virginia Tech||Rutgers|
|December 26, 2014||1:00||Heart of Dallas Bowl||Northwestern||Rice|
|December 24, 2014||8:00||Hawaii Bowl||Ball State||Utah State|
|December 24, 2014||12:00||Bahamas Bowl||UAB||Toledo|
|December 23, 2014||9:30||Poinsettia Bowl||Navy||Boise State|
|December 23, 2014||6:00||Boca Raton Bowl||Temple||Western Michigan|
|December 22, 2014||2:00||Miami Beach Bowl||BYU||UCF|
|December 20, 2014||9:15||Camellia Bowl||Bowling Green||Texas State|
|December 20, 2014||5:45||Idaho Potato Bowl||Nevada||Central Michigan|
|December 20, 2014||3:30||Las Vegas Bowl||USC||Colorado State|
|December 20, 2014||2:20||New Mexico Bowl||UTEP||San Diego State|
|December 20, 2014||11:00||New Orleans Bowl||Middle Tennessee||Arkansas State|
I see three other teams (Ohio, Buffalo, South Alabama) being bowl-eligible but on the outside looking in. Again, it’s still speculation at this point with some teams having upwards of five games left on their schedule. Also you have the Georgia Southern factor. The Eagles aren’t eligible for a bowl game unless there are not enough bowl-eligible teams. That could easily happen with there now being 38 bowls (plus a national championship game) so 76 teams have to qualify out of a bit under 130 teams (or just over 55%).
This should change pretty drastically as the season goes on towards the end. Not only because that’s the way college football works but also because this season has bordered on insanity so anything could happen. I wouldn’t even guarantee we will have at least one undefeated team standing at the end of the regular season. But hey, at least it’s not the BCS. Am I right? Eh? Is this mic on?