Bracketology 2018: Chaos Everywhere

Apologies for the last two inactive weeks. Life is a thing, and despite some others’ indications, I have one. Moving on. College basketball’s season is winding down, but the excitement is just beginning. To map the chaos, After the Whistle premiers a long-requested topic, bracketology.

I won’t bother with regions, because the selection committee always decides to mess it up. Comments, questions, and disputes are always welcomed in the comments. On with the chaos!

This week’s statement win belongs to. . . Wichita State. In a massive game against Cincinnati for control of the American, the Shockers came out on top. Landry Shamet led the way with 19 points, five assists, and four rebounds. The sophomore flamethrower also canned three triples, continuing a worrying trend. . . for his opponents.

It’s time to start talking about. . . Texas Tech. The Red Raiders lead the Big 12 at 10-4 in the conference, and hold the tiebreaker over fellow 10-4 Kansas due to a twelve point win in Lawrence. Add in Tech’s 16-0 record at home, and the Red Raiders are a legitimate national championship threat.

A mid-major rising is. . . Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders are dominating a solid Conference USA at 14-1 in the conference, and I have them at a 7 seed. Those in front of MTSU can’t afford to lose, or their seed will be taken by the Blue Raiders

 

1 seeds (Ranked #1-4)

Virginia
Villanova
Xavier
Texas Tech

2 seeds (#5-8)
Kansas
Auburn
Michigan State
Duke

3 seeds (#9-12)
Clemson
Tennessee
North Carolina
Purdue

4 seeds (13-16)
Wichita St
Cincinnati
Ohio St
Arizona

5 seeds (17-20)
Rhode Island
Gonzaga
W Virginia
Missouri

6 seeds (21-24)
Alabama
Creighton
Texas A&M
Florida

7 seeds (25-28)
St. Mary’s
Nevada
Middle Tennessee
Houston

8 seeds (29-32)
Michigan
Oklahoma
Kentucky
Miami

9 seeds (33-36)
Arkansas
Florida State
Arizona State
TCU

10 seeds (37-40)
Seton Hall
Butler
NC State
Virginia Tech

11 seeds (41-44)
Providence
Kansas St
St. Bonaventure
Loyola-Chicago

12 seeds (45-48)
Syracuse/Nebraska*
Texas/Louisville*
Vermont
East Tennessee State

*denotes play-in game.

13 seeds (49-52)
New Mexico St
Buffalo
UL-Lafayette
South Dakota St

14 seeds (53-56)
Charleston
Belmont
Rider
Bucknell

15 seeds (57-60)
Montana
UCSB
N Kentucky
FGCU

16 seeds (61-64)
Pennsylvania
UNC-Asheville
Wagner/Arkansas-Pine Bluff*
Nicholls State/Savannah State*

*denotes play-in game

 

Last four in

Syracuse
Texas
Louisville
Nebraska

First four out

Baylor
Boise St
UCLA
USC

Next four out

Washington
Temple
Penn St
Utah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Predicting the New Year’s Six: How College Football Concludes Its Season

Two nights before Christmas, football was on. The NFL rolled out Colts–Ravens and Vikings–Packers, leaving fans counting the minutes until the College Football Playoff. The sport could expand and move a week earlier. . .

Ohio State vs. USC

USC has a seven game win streak over the Buckeyes, and that looks to continue here. Ohio State lost by 31 to Iowa. (Update: Nope)

Pick: USC

Penn State vs. Washington

The Huskies haven’t looked the same since a crushing loss to Arizona State, but an Apple Cup victory rejuvenated an ailing team. It still won’t be enough to overcome Penn State in Saquon Barkley’s final game.

Pick: Penn State

Auburn vs. UCF

The electric Golden Knights offense will face a terrific Auburn defense, victors of the Iron Bowl. Don’t discount the Tiger offense either, as Jarrett Stidham leads a dual threat attack. However, UCF was, in my opinion, the fourth-best team in the country. Expect the Golden Knights to pull out a victory in their final game withcoach Scott Frost.

Pick: UCF

Wisconsin vs. Miami

A Miami team that destroyed Notre Dame by 33 faces a Wisconsin team unfamiliar with high-quality opposition. Malik Rosier will outduel his quarterback counterpart Alex Hornibrook to deliver Miami the victory.

Pick: Miami

Oklahoma vs. Georgia

The first of the Playoff matchups serves up an intriguing game, with Oklahoma’s top-ranked offense against Georgia’s SEC-leading defense. Unfortunately for the Sooners, a sluggish defense won’t be enough to slow down Georgia.

Pick: Georgia

Clemson vs. Alabama

This is not the Clemson–Alabama of old. The Crimson Tide had no business making the Playoff, and Clemson will outclass Nick Saban once again.

College Football Power Rankings: Championship Week

College football’s regular season is over and done with, and another four teams will go to the Playoff. For Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Alabama, the national title is at stake. For others, a bowl game. For Baylor. . . um. . .

1. Oklahoma

Every team’s season has been reevaluated, and Oklahoma emerges on top. The Sooners torched TCU in the Big 12 Championship to earn a trip to the Playoff.

2. Clemson

The Tigers ran Miami off the field in a 38-3 annihilation. Clemson booked a spot in the Playoff, and that Auburn win looks impressive.

3. Georgia

The Bulldogs erased a bad memory by winning the SEC. Auburn couldn’t beat the former #1 a second time, and Kirby Smart is heading to the Playoff.

4. UCF

I said I reevaluated everyone. The Knights put up 62 en route to beating Memphis in the AAC Championship, went undefeated, and boasts signature wins over the aforementioned Tigers (twice!) and South Florida. In a perfect world UCF would be in the Playoff, but will instead settle for the Peach Bowl. Opponent? Auburn.

5. Auburn

The Tigers’ losses to Clemson and Georgia can be excused, leaving Auburn with one unavoidable loss. The LSU game hurts, but running the SEC West gauntlet slots the Tigers in at fifth. Wins over Alabama and Georgia by a combined 35 points headline an incredible resume.

6. Alabama

The Tide were the only top 10 team not participating in a conference game, yet still made the Playoff. Despite undefeated AAC champ UCF’s similar strength of schedule, Alabama will have a shot at Clemson for the third straight year.

7. USC

The Pac-12 champions head to the Fiesta Bowl, which is the de facto Rose Bowl against Ohio State. USC led Stanford by double digits long into the fourth quarter, and vaults above Ohio State upon reevaluation.

8. Ohio State

If you want to make the Playoff, don’t lose to Iowa by 31. Fair?

9. Wisconsin

The Badgers lost a hard-fought Big 10 Championship, and head to the Orange Bowl to face Miami. The Hurricanes have made a habit of running teams off the field, (Notre Dame agrees) and could mock Wisconsin’s weak schedule.

10. Miami

The Hurricanes weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders in a 38-3 drubbing from Clemson. Miami should beat an overmatched Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl, and jump a few spots.

11. TCU

The Horned Frogs got smoked—again—by Oklahoma. Kenny Hill played well in the first half, but TCU imploded on both sides of the ball. Baker Mayfield is going to win the Heisman, while TCU falls out of New Year’s Six consideration.

12. Washington 

13. Penn State

I’m not sold on a team that lost every challenge. The Lions aren’t cut out for high-quality opposition.

14. Notre Dame

15. Michigan State

MSU enjoyed a nice rebound season, but a blowout loss to Notre Dame early in the season hurts.

16. Stanford

The Cardinal were never really close in a blowout loss to USC, and will compete in a medium-quality bowl. Bryce Love is a finalist for the Heisman, but the trophy appears to have Baker Mayfield’s name written on it.

17. Memphis

The Tigers played an incredibly fun AAC Championship, a 55-62 2OT loss to UCF, and Memphis doesn’t fall far, as both of their losses are to #4 UCF.

18. LSU

This was a terrific rebound season for Ed Orgeron, and the Tigers will face Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.

19. Oklahoma State

20. Northwestern

21. Toledo

The Rockets destroyed Akron 45-28 to become the MAC champion. Be aware of flying missiles.

22. Florida Atlantic

Lane Kiffin has turned FAU into a conference champion, as the Owls blew out North Texas by 24. Florida Atlantic will face Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl, and it shouldn’t be close.

23. Virginia Tech

24. Washington State

25. Tennessee’s coaching search

The Vols finally found a coach, as Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is thrust into the spotlight. Pruitt has a talented roster, but very few recruits as of yet. Expect that to change, and Tennessee might be a force in the SEC East once again.

Alabama Doesn’t Deserve a Playoff Spot

Sunday morning, the CFP Committee had a decision to make. Did Alabama deserve a spot in the 2017-18 College Football Playoff? The answer from the Committee was yes. The Committee is wrong.

Alabama vs. Ohio State

Let’s first discount the primary “challenger,” Ohio State. If you want to earn a spot in the Playoff, don’t lose to Iowa by 31. Fair?

 

Alabama vs. Auburn

Auburn’s best wins: Georgia, Alabama

Auburn’s worst loss: LSU

Alabama’s best wins: LSU, Mississippi State

Alabama’s only loss: Auburn

Three-loss Auburn is more deserving than the Tide. To the tune of 26-14, the Tigers dominated Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Auburn made the SEC Championship, unlike Alabama. Considering two of Auburn’s losses were to Playoff teams, (Clemson, Georgia) why not the Tigers? Consider the quality wins listed above.

 

Alabama vs. UCF

Alabama’s best wins: LSU, Mississippi State

Alabama’s only loss: Auburn

UCF’s best wins: Memphis (twice), USF

When comparing Alabama to unbeaten UCF, the Tide look bad. The AAC champions beat Memphis twice by a combined score of 102-68. Add on a dramatic Rivalry Week win at South Florida, and ‘Bama’s resume pales in comparison. Please never forget that LSU (the Tide’s best win) lost to Troy.

Alabama vs. USC

Alabama’s best wins: Troy, LSU, Mississippi State

Alabama’s only loss: Auburn

USC’s best wins: Stanford (twice), Arizona

USC’s losses: Notre Dame, Washington State

Although this one seems a bit out there, USC is at least on par with Alabama. The Trojans destroyed Arizona, whose quarterback (Khalil Tate) had run for 840(!!!) yards in the past four weeks, snapping the Wildcats’ four-game win streak. Add on beating Stanford twice, and USC’s 11 wins outweigh Alabama’s 11. USC is also a conference champion. Alabama isn’t even a division champion.

 

Through these comparisons, it’s easy to see Alabama doesn’t deserve to be in the Playoff. UCF, USC, and Auburn all have better cases for the exclusive field of four. The Committee is facing questions that need answering, and are not setting a good precedent. Alabama could get blown out against Clemson, leading to 2015 comparisons. TCU and Baylor are not amused.

College Football Power Rankings: Rivalry Week

Photo source: Flickr

The insanity of Rivalry Week is over, but the CFP committee has more questions to answer as Alabama and Miami lost. The SEC and ACC Championships are play-ins, and Oklahoma and Wisconsin are win-and-in. What’s at stake for Championship Week? Read on.

1. Oklahoma

Capturing the top spot for the first time this year, Oklahoma will make the Playoff of the Sooners defeat TCU in the Big 12 Championship. A loss would send Oklahoma to a New Year’s Six bowl.

2. Clemson

The Tigers face a play-in game against Miami. The winner of the ACC Championship will make the Playoff, while the loser is relegated to the Orange Bowl.

3. Auburn

A wild win in the Iron Bowl ensured the Tigers of a chance to play what is essentially a Playoff quarterfinal against Georgia. Defeating Alabama by 12 is no small feat, and Auburn vaults to #3.

4. Wisconsin

The Badgers enter the Playoff picture because of Alabama and Miami’s losses. A shutout in Minneapolis won’t earn Wisconsin anything, as P.J. Fleck couldn’t make anything out of Minnesota’s weakest roster in years.

5. Georgia

The Bulldogs blew out Georgia Tech 38-7 to ensure the SEC of at least one team in the Playoff. The winner of Auburn vs. Georgia will make the Committee’s top four.

6. Alabama

The Crimson Tide need some help after losing a pivotal Iron Bowl to Auburn. Either Oklahoma or Wisconsin needs to lose to TCU or Ohio State. After that, Alabama will need the committee to pick the Tide over a two-loss conference champion.

7. Ohio State

The Buckeyes must beat Wisconsin to have a chance at the Playoff, and even then the committee might choose 11-1 Alabama. Escaping Michigan gave Ohio State another quality win, but quarterback J.T. Barrett is questionable for the Big 10 Championship.

8. Miami

Pittsburgh has done it again. The 4-7 Panthers knocked off a top four opponent for the second year in a row, meaning Miami will have to beat Clemson to earn a spot in the Playoff.

9. TCU

The Horned Frogs blew out ten-loss Baylor as expected, but have little hope of a Playoff appearance. A win over Oklahoma would be a massive boost to the program, and would earn TCU a trip to the New Year’s Six.

10. USC

The Trojans had an extra week to prepare for Stanford, and will need a win in the Pac-12 Championship to clinch a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl.

11. UCF

What the Golden Knights have done this year is incredible. Rolling through the nation’s sixth best conference is a underestimated feat. UCF won’t make the Playoff, but the Knights could make their second New Year’s Six bowl in the Playoff era with a win over Memphis.

12. Washington 

Unlike many, I ranked the Huskies ahead of Washington State. That decision is justified after Washington’s 41-14 win in the Apple Cup, although Washington won’t go to the Pac-12 Championship. That honor goes to Stanford, who just knocked off Notre Dame.

13. Penn State

The Lions put up 66 on Maryland, pushing Penn Statebup three spots due to receiving some help. Saquon Barkley will need more to further his Heisman case in the New Year’s Six.

14. Stanford

The Cardinal were predicted to be destroyed against Notre Dame, but responded by winning by 18. Stanford will play for a New Year’s Six spot in the Pac-12 Championship against USC.

15. Memphis

For the second week in a row, the American Athletic has two teams in the top 15. Enough said for a New Year’s Six play-in game against UCF.

16. Notre Dame

The Irish eliminated themselves from a New Year’s Six bowl by virtue of losing by 18 to Stanford. Notre Dame’s lack of conference affiliation hurts as well.

17. Michigan State

The Spartans stay put after a 40-7 win over eight-loss Rutgers, and won’t move much after finishing second in the Big 10 East.

18. LSU

A blowout win over Texas A&M helps LSU’s case for a higher-quality bowl, and cost Kevin Sumlin his job. The Tigers move up, but won’t make a New Year’s Six bowl.

19. Oklahoma State

Kansas is not a difficult opponent, and the Pokes only move up one spot in relief of Washington State.

20. Northwestern

The Wildcats have a 30-70 shot at the Citrus Bowl, and will need a Michigan State opponent to trip up. A Wisconsin win would be particularly devastating for MSU.

21. Washington State

A chance to go to the Pac-12 Championship was squandered Saturday night, as a 41-14 blowout loss to rival Washington sends Stanford to play USC. Wazzou might be relegated to the Sun Bowl, televised by CBS against an ACC team.

22. Virginia Tech

VT is the last Power 5 team ranked this week, as Virginia Tech’s 9-3 record makes them the ACC’s third ranked team.

23. Fresno State

The Bulldogs enter the rankings after their upset of former #25 Boise State. Fresno State will have another shot at the Broncos in the Mountain West title game.

24. Toledo

The Rockets put the MAC’s only two-loss record on the line in the Mid-American title game. Surprise division winners Akron are heavy underdogs, but Toledo can’t afford to slip up.

25. Florida Atlantic

Lane Kiffin has turned this program around—from winless to unbeaten. FAU has a shot at a conference championship against North Texas.

 

New Year’s Six bowl projections

Playoff semifinal: Clemson vs. Ohio State

Playoff semifinal: Oklahoma vs. Auburn

Orange: Miami vs. Alabama

Fiesta: USC vs. Wisconsin

Cotton: TCU vs. Ohio State

Peach: UCF vs. Georgia

Next best team: Washington

Cast as underdogs, Auburn’s scenarios are set

via Daily Prompt: Underdog

Written off after a loss to LSU, the Auburn Tigers are back. Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham and Co. have paths to every high-quality bowl game. After the Whistle breaks down where coach Gus Malzahn’s team could play in postseason.

If Auburn wins out. . .

The Tigers would have wins over Alabama and Georgia, and would be the CFP’s first two-loss Playoff team. QB Jarrett Stidham has a chance to lead Auburn to their first-ever Playoff.

With ATW’s projections for this scenario, the playoff is:

1. Clemson

2. Oklahoma

3. Auburn

4. Ohio State

If Auburn wins the Iron Bowl, but loses to Georgia. . .

The Tigers would almost certainly make a New Year’s Six bowl with a win over Alabama. After the Whistle projects Auburn to finish ranked #8 under this scenario, which would send the Tigers to a New Year’s Six bowl. Pending Big Ten Championship, that bowl will either be the Orange Bowl against the ACC Championshop loser. . .  or the Peach Bowl against the American Athletic winner.

With ATW’s current projections for this scenario, the Playoff is:

1. Clemson

2. Oklahoma

3. Georgia

4. Ohio State

If Auburn loses to Alabama. . .

The Tigers likely drop to the 10-13 range, and fall another spot after the American Athletic Championship. Every Power 5 conference champion is guaranteed a NY6 bowl, so any Pac-12 winner besides USC drops Auburn out of the New Year’s Six and into the Citrus Bowl, probably against Michigan State.

With ATW’s projections for this scenario, the Playoff is:

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Oklahoma

4. Ohio State

Projections for Power 5 conference champions (besides the SEC) are Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and USC.

College Football Power Rankings Week 12

Thanksgiving is nearly here, and with it comes Rivalry Week. This week’s rankings provide a blueprint for what every team needs to happen in matchups such as Auburn-Alabama, USF-UCF, and Notre Dame-Stanford. High-powered matchups that could change the Playoff picture. New Year’s Six hopes on the line. This is Rivalry Week.

1. Alabama

The top seven are unchanged in a drama-less week of blowouts. Alabama faces a crucial game in the Iron Bowl against Auburn. If the Tide win, they’re probably in even if Alabama loses to Georgia. And a loss? That forces the committee to think, and we can’t have that.

2. Miami

The Hurricanes won’t face a quality opponent until the ACC Championship against Clemson. Even if Miami loses to Pittsburgh, the ‘Canes would get into the top four with an ACC Championship Game victory. On the other hand, if Miami beats Pitt and loses to Clemson, would they get in ahead of Ohio State, Wisconsin, or a second SEC team?

3. Oklahoma

The Sooners will face West Virginia with a Big 12 Championship spot already locked up. Oklahoma will probably face TCU, and can’t afford to lose.

4. Clemson

A tricky game against now-ranked South Carolina affords Clemson no room for error looking ahead to the ACC Championship against Miami.

5. Auburn

The Tigers will have a chance to win the SEC West for the first time since the Kick Six  against #1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Nick Marshall and Cam Newton are the last two quarterbacks to beat Alabama. Can Jarrett Stidham add his name to the list?

6. Wisconsin

The Badgers are looking ahead to a must-win Big Ten Championship against Ohio State, but Minnesota is always tricky for Wisconsin to deal with. The Badgers still need to win out.

7. Georgia

The Bulldogs will be in the top four if they win out. Georgia will have beaten Alabama or Auburn, Clemson or Miami will have lost, and either Alabama will have lost the Iron Bowl or Auburn would have three losses. However, Georgia Tech and its  triple-option offense has won two of the last three against Georgia.

8. Ohio State

That Team Up North comes down to attempt to ruin the Buckeyes’ Playoff hopes. Ohio State must win out and receive some help to make it in as the two-loss B1G champion.

9. Notre Dame

An underwhelming performance against Navy causes Notre Dame to fall a spot, but the Irish can assure themselves of a New Year’s Six Bowl with a win over Stanford. Pending chaos, Clemson could meet Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl. What a matchup that would be!

10. TCU

An easy matchup against 10-loss(!) Baylor should pose no problems for the Horned Frogs. TCU is win-and-in to the Big 12 Championship vs. Oklahoma.

11. UCF

The Golden Knights won’t make the Playoff unless historic chaos ensues, but UCF has the chance to cement a NY6 bowl and a top 10 ranking if they beat USF and Memphis to win the American Athletic.

12. USC

In their infinite wisdom, the Trojans waited until this week to schedule their bye. USC won’t know who they face in the Pac-12 Championship until after the Apple Cup. Excellent use of your bye.

13. Washington

With Stanford’s win, the Huskies can’t win the Pac-12 North, but Washington could lock up a NY6 spot with a win in the Apple Cup.

14. Memphis

After a blowout of a solid SMU team, Memphis awaits the winner of USF-UCF in the AAC title game. The third Tigers in the rankings will need to beat three-win East Carolina first, though.

15. Washington State

If the Cougars win the Apple Cup, Wazzou will head to the Pac-12 Championship against USC to play for a crack at a New Year’s Six bowl. If the Cougars lose, Stanford wins the North.

16. Penn State

The Lions are tenth in the CFP committee’s rankings, meaning Penn State is win-and-in for a New Year’s Six bowl. Just beat Maryland!

17. Michigan State

Head-to-head is only used as a tiebreaker if two or more teams’ resumes are comparable. MSU lacks quality wins outside of Penn State and now-unranked Michigan, and is a long shot for a New Year’s Six bowl. If the Spartans beat Rutgers, Michigan State is headed to the Citrus Bowl.

18. Stanford

The Cardinal are playing #9 Notre Dame, but Stanford’s focus is the Apple Cup. A Washington win sends Stanford to the Pac-12 Championship, but a Wazzou win eliminates Stanford.

19. Mississippi State

All three of the Bulldogs’ losses are to top 10 teams. Ole Miss will attempt to change that in the Thanksgiving Egg Bowl, but MSU needs a win.

20. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys’ slim hopes of a Big 12 Championship appearance vanished with a shootout loss to Kansas State. Even if TCU loses to ten-loss Baylor, Oklahoma State would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker. If Iowa State and/or Texas and/or West Virginia wins in that scenario, the Cowboys would lose out due to losing to the next-best team, Kansas State. Iowa State has the head-to-head tiebreaker over TCU.

21. LSU

What feels like the tenth Tigers in these rankings, LSU will attempt to further their cause for a decent quality bowl game in Ed Orgeron’s first full season. Texas A&M is always an issue on Rivalry Week, so it’s not a given.

22. Northwestern

Someone needs to get a Northwestern vs. Harvard rivalry established, because that would be funny. It would be a good game—in basketball.

23. USF

The third of four Group of 5 teams in the rankings, USF has to beat UCF and Memphis to earn a New Year’s Six spot. On the other hand, Boise State might be picked ahead of the Bulls even if this unlikely scenario takes place.

24. South Carolina

Facing a game against Clemson, South Carolina might be in the rankings for this week, but don’t expect them to be in next week’s top 25.

25. Boise State

A three-point loss to Washington State is nothing to scoff at, but a blowout loss to Virginia has kept the Broncos out of the rankings until now. Running the table in the Mountain West buoys them.

 

New Year’s Six Projections

  • Based on my picks for important games, here is who I think will be in the top six bowls come New Year’s.
  • This blueprint will change drastically after Rivalry Week.
  • Please note that every Power 5 champion and the highest ranked Group of 5 champion are guaranteed NY6 spots.
  • The last three are decided based on geographical location while avoiding rematches.
  • The predicted higher-ranked team is listed first.

CFP semifinal: Miami vs. Alabama

CFP semifinal: Oklahoma vs. Auburn

Orange: Clemson vs. Ohio State

Cotton: Notre Dame vs. TCU

Fiesta: USC vs. Wisconsin

Peach: UCF vs. Georgia