Projected College Football Playoff Rankings: New Year’s Six Bowls

    Projected College Football Playoff Rankings for the second-to-last rankings. Why do they matter Tuesday night? Baylor might all but have its ticket punched for the Sugar.

    December 1, 2015


    Projected College Football Playoff Rankings: What Matters Tuesday Night?

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    Look, the top four in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings won’t matter.

    That’s what everyone will get into a twist over, but we all know that Oklahoma will end up in the top four in the final rankings on Sunday. We also know with about 99.4% certainty that the Big Ten champion is going to get in, and we know 100% that Alabama and Clemson are in if they win.

    But here’s the other key aspect – don’t get all into where North Carolina, Ohio State, and Stanford are ranked relative to each other.

    Top five in some way, shape or form will be Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Iowa and Michigan State, but again, we know that the Iowa-Michigan State winner is going to get in. We also know that being No. 6 doesn’t really mean anything.

    If North Carolina beats Clemson in the ACC championship, Clemson is out, and North Carolina as the ACC champion is almost certainly in.

    If Florida beats Alabama, the best guess would be Stanford would get in as the Pac-12 champion, and if Stanford loses, Florida would probably make it.

    So no, Ohio State, probably this isn’t going to be the year the committee allows a team in that didn’t win its own division.

    Again, don’t focus on teams No. 6 through 9 – it doesn’t matter, because it’ll all change depending on who the champions are.

    What’s not getting talked about enough is the rest of the New Year’s Six pecking order.

    The cachet isn’t quite there yet to be a part of the NY6 like it was for being in a BCS game, but that’s coming. There’s SO much attention being paid to the playoff that the other big games tend to blend together – especially this year when some are being played after the CFP semifinals – but it’s a huge accomplishment to get there.

    Here are the ground rules along with the likely scenarios.

    The CFP committee decides who goes where. It does have to go by the rules of the Sugar and Rose Bowls, but it can and will choose the best matchups.

    The highest-ranked Group of Five champion is in, so expect the winner of the American Athletic Conference championship between Houston and Temple to find its way in. This is a big deal because of geography. More on that in a moment.

    Finally, being in the top 12 is a big deal, but considering the requirements to fill the bowls, this is where the rankings really do matter this week.

    Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

    The first of the giant bowl games, this kicks off in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve at noon ET.

    There aren’t any hard and fast rules for this catch-all bowl other than that that the ACC champ is supposed to go here. When it won’t – like this year, most likely – it can take anyone. However, this is the biggest piece of the puzzle depending on which team wins the ACC and American Athletic title games

    If Temple wins the AAC, the committee would likely keep the Owls a wee bit closer geographically. If it’s Houston, it’ll probably get sent to the Fiesta Bowl.

    If North Carolina wins the ACC title and goes to the playoff, Clemson would be a lock to end up here with Notre Dame going to the Fiesta to avoid a rematch. If Clemson wins the ACC, Florida State could slide on in depending on its ranking to face the Fighting Irish, and North Carolina would then almost certainly play in the Russell Athletic against the Big 12.

    The other key option is one of the three Big Ten teams likely to get in. The Big Ten champ will be in the playoff, the loser would most likely go to the Rose Bowl, and Ohio State would probably end up either here or in the Fiesta. Since this is the first of the big bowls, the best guess is that the Fighting Irish are here if Clemson wins the ACC, and Ohio State is here vs. Clemson if North Carolina wins.

    Best Guess: North Carolina vs. Notre Dame

    Fiesta Bowl

    Just like the Peach, this is the relatively open bowl. It would love to get Notre Dame, but again, the draw to be in the Peach on New Year’s Eve day might be too much to overcome. Assume the American Athletic winner probably ends up here against Ohio State. Will the committee go for the ratings gold of Notre Dame vs. Ohio State? It might be too tempting not to do on New Year’s Day at 1:00 ET, but that would mean an ACC loser vs. American Athletic winner in the Peach, and a polite whimper to kick off the fun. The Buckeyes vs. Fighting Irish could absolutely be the Peach, but …

    Best Guess: Houston vs. Ohio State

    Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual

    This has to be Big Ten vs. Pac-12 regardless of rankings. Unless there’s a massive miracle, assume the Pac-12 champ is here meaning USC or Stanford will be in Pasadena, and also assume the Big Ten Championship loser gets a nice consolation prize. Ohio State would be the big draw, though, and that might happen if the Big Ten title game is a blowout. Ohio State vs. USC would be a sweet draw post-New Year’s Eve playoff, while Stanford vs. Michigan State might not do much considering it’s a rematch of two years ago. However, Iowa would be a great get. Dejected MSU fans probably wouldn’t travel for this, but Hawkeye fans would love the Rose Bowl world no matter what.

    Best Guess: Iowa vs. USC

    Allstate Sugar Bowl

    Like the Rose Bowl, this is set between the Big 12 and SEC. It’s the last of the New Year’s Six games, but it’s the one that might be most easily figured out by this week’s rankings.

    If Baylor is the highest-ranked Big 12 team again behind Oklahoma, even after losing to TCU, it won’t be official, but Bear fans can probably pack for New Orleans if their team beats Texas this week.

    The other big key will be where Florida and Ole Miss are ranked. Florida will drop from No. 12 after this week, and Ole Miss will move up from No. 18. If Ole Miss jumps ahead of the Gators, it’ll have the inside track to the game. However, Florida is 10-2 at the moment, Ole Miss is 9-3, and the Gators beat the Rebels.

    Best Guess: Florida vs. Baylor

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