Hello college football/Big Ten fans!
Just two weeks until college football's Selection Sunday. I started in men's college basketball years ago so Selection Sunday to me is much more associated with basketball than football and now only four teams make the College Football Playoff (next year 12). More results make the Playoff picture clearer.
The stage is set in Ann Arbor between the #3 Michigan Wolverines and the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes. Both teams are undefeated for the second straight year. Ohio State was #1 the first two weeks of the CFP rankings but were jumped by Georgia last week. I feel the winner of this game should be #1 next Tuesday going into Championship Week and in the final rankings. Michigan will once again be without Jim Harbaugh as he serves the final game of his three game suspension. Michigan has won the first two games of Harbaugh's suspension. The two games were a lot closer than the blowouts Michigan has won by most of the season although Maryland is bowl eligible and Penn State is #12 in the latest CFP rankings and has only lost to Ohio State and Michigan this year. Ohio State is definitely a step above Penn State and Maryland. Provelt mentioned that Michigan will miss Harbaugh more vs. Ohio State than they would vs. Penn State or Maryland.
I discussed last week about all of the possibilities of the Big Ten Worst and TDozer discussed his/her rooting interests in a separate FanPost. But it's all for naught as the Iowa Hawkeyes won and wrapped up the West and clinched their ticket to Indianapolis. I mentioned that the Big Ten West has never won the Big Ten Championship Game so I have little faith in Iowa beating Michigan or Ohio State. Iowa earlier this year lost 31-0 to Penn State, a team that lost to both Ohio State and Michigan this year.
Big Ten Championship Prediction: Michigan over Iowa
The #1 Georgia Bulldogs and #8 Alabama Crimson Tide will meet in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta in two weeks. This week both play their in state rivals, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech and Alabama vs. Auburn. Auburn humiliated themselves 31-10 to New Mexico State yesterday. Many SEC teams traditionally play cupcake opponents in the second to last week of the season (Alabama played Chattanooga yesterday). It was great to see one of the cupcakes beat an SEC school. Georgia played Tennessee yesterday in what looked like one of their toughest games at the beginning of the season but turned out to be a laugher. Tennessee has now lost four games including one to a bad Florida team. For some reason the AP and Coaches still have them ranked, they are the only four loss team that is ranked.
SEC Championship Prediction: Georgia over Alabama
The #4 Florida State Seminoles were cruising along. They also played a cupcake (North Alabama) yesterday. They didn't lose (they won big) but lost starting quarterback Jordan Travis early in the game. Florida State's schedule seems weaker than other teams and if they don't win out they most likely won't make the Playoff and they can certainly use the Travis injury against them if they lose. Florida State travels to 5-6 Florida and will play the #9 Louisville Cardinals for the ACC Championship in Charlotte. All of a sudden that game vs. Louisville doesn't looks like a gimme anymore although Louisville did lose a game to 3-8 Pittsburgh this year. Louisville only has one loss but because it's to a 3-8 team they likely will have a hard time justifying getting in and Jordan Travis's injury will make a potential Florida State win look less impressive. For the ACC, it's Florida State or bust.
ACC Championship Prediction: Florida State over Louisville
The #5 Washington Huskies passed a major test yesterday winning at Oregon State. A concerning statistic for Washington is that they won their last seven games by ten points or less. Meanwhile the #6 Oregon Ducks have won three of their last four games by the following margins, 35-6, 63-19, and 49=13. This is why I have picked Oregon over Washington each week I have done Playoff projections this season even though Washington won the first game this year.
Washington is in the Pac 12 Championship win or lose but a loss to 5-6 Washington State won't help their Playoff case even if they win the Pac 12 Championship Game in Las Vegas. Oregon clinches their spot with a win over Oregon State. They can also back into the championship game if Arizona loses to Arizona State but a second loss will end their Playoff hopes.
Pac 12 Championship Prediction: Oregon over Washington
The #7 Texas Longhorns continue to win. Texas still has to climb three spots to make the Playoff but Michigan and Ohio State play each other and Oregon and Washington play each other. Texas would still need one other team to lose. Georgia could be that team. If Georgia loses, Alabama picks up an impressive win over their resume but Texas beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa earlier this year. On the other hand, last year Tennessee beat Alabama and Alabama was ranked ahead of Tennessee in the final CFP rankings last year. And Penn State fans remember 2016 when they beat Ohio State and saw the Buckeyes get in while they got left out. I wouldn't put anything past the CFP Committee.
Right behind Texas are three teams, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Kansas State. Oklahoma State beat both Oklahoma and Kansas State this year and would win a tiebreaker with both teams or either team in case either Oklahoma or Kansas State loses. The only wrench for the Cowboys would be if Texas loses (home vs. Texas Tech). Since Texas didn't play Oklahoma State, Oklahoma State's head to head tiebreaker edge over Oklahoma and/or Kansas State would be wiped out. So other than losing themselves, Oklahoma State doesn't want Texas losing. If Texas and Oklahoma State both win, they will meet in Jerry World the following week for the title.
Big 12 Championship Prediction: Texas over Oklahoma State
There hasn't been any major upsets this year since I started doing projections. Now Ohio State at Michigan could go either way and Georgia vs. Alabama and Washington vs. Oregon certainly can be considered toss ups but for now I'll just stick with what I've been predicting all season.
Rose Bowl: #1 Michigan (13-0) vs. #4 Oregon (12-1), Jan. 1 5pm
Sugar Bowl: #2 Georgia (13-0) vs. #3 Florida State (13-0), Jan. 1 8:30pm
I think if Florida State wins out they would have to be ranked ahead of Oregon although if Washington wins out they should be ranked ahead of FSU.
New Year's Six:
The Missouri Tigers are ranked #9, well ahead of the Ole Miss Rebels (#13). Oregon State should drop after their loss to Washington. Assuming the rankings don't change in the next few weeks, I'll replace Mississippi with Missouri in the NY6 bowl assignments.
Cotton Bowl: Texas (12-1) vs. Missouri (10-2), Dec. 29 8pm
Peach Bowl: Penn State (10-2) vs. Tulane (12-1), Dec. 30 noon
Orange Bowl: Louisville (11-2) vs. Ohio State (11-1), Dec. 30 4pm
Fiesta Bowl: Washington (12-1) vs. Alabama (10-2), Jan. 1 1pm
The Jordan Travis injury might have give a glimmer of hope to Texas and/or Alabama who have been looking for a way in to the Playoff and a Florida State loss opens an extra spot for someone else.
Last year both Michigan and Ohio State made the Playoff but I would be surprised to see the Ohio State-Michigan loser make it or Georgia making it if they lose. Last year both ACC Champion Clemson and Pac 12 Champion Utah finished with two losses (Kansas State also finished with two losses but TCU had just won and made the Playoff). Right now the chances of any Power 5 champion finishing with two losses is pretty slim. I think if you're the Ohio State-Michigan winner you'd rather Florida State win out and keep either Texas or potentially Alabama if they upset Georgia out. The Big Ten has a chance for the SEC to be shut out of the Playoff but it can't happen if Florida State loses.
Which Conference Will Be Left Out Of The Playoff?
Iowa wins the Big Ten title.
Louisville wins the ACC title and/or Florida beats Florida State.
Arizona wins the Pac 12 title. Hey, it could happen.
Oregon loses to Oregon State but then beats Washington. Oregon would be Pac 12 champions but would have two losses. Washington would still have just one loss but it would be to a two loss Oregon and barring an upset by Florida State, the Ohio State-Michigan winner, or Texas, it would be too easy to leave a one loss non champion Washington out.
Washington loses to Washington State and wins the Pac 12 championship. All of the other teams win out. Washington is a one loss champion but their loss is to a 6-6 WSU and it sticks out compared to the other teams. They'll have two wins over Oregon as a counter argument. If Oregon loses to Oregon State, it weakens Washington's argument. If Oregon loses to Oregon State and Arizona is Washington's opponent in the Pac 12 Championship, Washington would have just one win over Oregon and would have less of a resume vs. Texas if they win out. Oregon beating a two loss Washington wouldn't be as impressive as Oregon handing UW their first loss of the year. My Playoff projections assume Oregon beating a one loss Washington and Texas's win being over a two loss Alabama. If on the other hand Washington has two losses and Alabama has one, the calculus changes (in addition Alabama enters the conversation although if you're the Pac 12 you'd rather compete with a one loss Alabama than an undefeated Georgia).
Oregon wins the Pac 12 over Washington, Texas wins out, and Alabama beats Georgia. Would Oregon deserve to miss the Playoff? Probably not. But we know the SEC controls ESPN and ESPN controls the Playoff and they'll do whatever it takes to make sure the SEC and Alabama makes it. They will have a hard time excluding a Texas team that beat Alabama and Texas is on their way to the SEC next year. But if Oregon is 12-1, they're an easy out. ESPN has no rights to Oregon next year, they won't care if they get screwed.
Alabama beats Georgia, all the other favorites win (I think Oregon is the favorite over Washington but I think for these circumstances it doesn't matter who wins as long as neither lose this week), and the CFP Committee does the right thing. Do I believe they will? I wouldn't bet my last dollar on it.
Georgia beats Alabama, Iowa loses the Big Ten title, Florida State wins the ACC, and Oregon and Washington win this week (I think a 12-1 Oregon beating a 12-1 Washington would give Oregon the bid over Texas).
Iowa loses the Big Ten title, Florida State wins the ACC, Washington goes undefeated, Alabama beats Georgia, and the Selection Committee decides to screw over Texas and take Alabama instead.
Iowa loses the Big Ten title, Florida State wins the ACC, Alabama beats Georgia, Oregon beats Washington, and the Selection Committee either decides to screw over Texas and take Alabama and Oregon or take both Texas and Alabama and leave Oregon out.