Bowl Projections 2015: Predicting Playoff Standings and Bowl Games Post-Week 10

Bryan Fischer@BryanDFischerNational College Football Columnist November 10, 2015

LSU head coach Les Miles, left, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban speak at midfield after the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, in Tuscaloosa , Ala. Alabama won 30-16. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The amount of huge games that take place in November is simply staggering to fathom sometimes, and last Saturday’s wild action only further served to reinforce that fact.

In just about every time slot from the noon ET slate all the way through to the late Pac-12 action, there was a game or two that had significant College Football Playoff implications. There were, of course, clashes between titans, like Alabama and LSU. But even lower-level games wound up shaking up the postseason picture, such as Navy’s stunning upset of a Memphis team that had some talking playoff for the Tigers.

With some back-loaded schedules (cough, Big 12, cough), we’re bound to have an even more fluid few weeks of college football left before we can truly get a handle on who’s in, who’s out and who’s going to what game. It all makes for a fun, if challenging, time to put together some bowl projections, that’s for sure.

Still, we received some clarity on things as Week 10 turned into Week 11 on the season calendar. It wasn’t much, but the selection committee and everybody else will certainly take it.

For now, though, this is how the bowl picture looks. A hearty disclaimer that these are projecting the rest of the season and, as such, are not completely reflective of the state of college football at the moment.

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  • Here are the full Top 25 rankings. The College Football Playoff selection committee will release its second set of rankings on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
  • Based on Ohio State closing out its season strong with big wins over top-15 teams, the Buckeyes are projected to wind up with the No. 1 seed from the committee. That usually means splitting hairs, but in this case, it could give them a slight advantage over No. 2 seed Clemson when it comes to which semifinal site they go to. Direct from the committee handbook, this is a relevant section: “When assigning teams to sites, the committee will place the top two seeds at the most advantageous sites, weighing criteria such as convenience of travel for its fans, home-crowd advantage or disadvantage and general familiarity with the host city and its stadium. Preference will go to the No. 1 seed.” So for those that have asked, that’s why Ohio State faces No. 4 seed Stanford at the Orange Bowl (more of an advantage for OSU in South Florida than Dallas) instead of the Cotton Bowl, which would not provide as much of an advantage to the top seed.
  • It’s possible the committee could do what they did last year and flip an undefeated team (in this case, Clemson) with a one-loss team (Alabama), but the real-world implications of that would be minimal if both are set to go to the Cotton Bowl. Either way, it’s hard to see the Tigers falling past the No. 3 seed in any scenario if they capture the ACC title.

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  • Among the other New Year’s Six bowl games, predicted one-loss Big 12 champion Baylor will head to New Orleans for a Sugar Bowl matchup with the next-highest ranked SEC team, LSU. As its initial No. 2 ranking indicated, the committee thinks highly of the Tigers, and even if they lose again this year, LSU likely could stay in front of a potentially three-loss Florida.
  • We’ve had Houston as the front-runner for the Group of Five spot all season, but thanks to its upset this past week, Navy has a real opportunity to grab the bid. If that happens, CFP executive director Bill Hancock told CBS Sports on Sunday that the committee will delay the release of its final standings a week so that the outcome of the Army-Navy game is taken into account. That’s a nightmare scenario for a lot of parties involved but one to keep an eye on as we inch closer to that possibility.
  • The Peach Bowl will get the opportunity to host Michigan State (even after this week’s… controversial loss to Nebraska) and a suddenly resurgent Oklahoma. Why the Sooners now? The opportunity to make a big statement in the Bedlam game to end the year against rival Oklahoma State is a big factor in predicting just how high up in the committee’s top 25 they will be when all is said and done.
  • Prior to the Rose Bowl a few years ago, the high point in the postseason for TCU was likely its win over USC in the 1998 Sun Bowl. It was a victory that was immortalized around the team’s offices with a few photos, and this season the team could get a chance to get another win over the Trojans. This time it would just be a little closer to home in the Alamo Bowl.
  • See some bad teams in a bowl game that likely won’t hit a 6-6 record? Well, there’s a reason: It again looks likely that we’ll see one or multiple 5-7 teams in a bowl game. Because the pool of teams bowls can select from ends up being so thin when all is said and done, there’s a reason why Rutgers and others wind up in the postseason. So…yeah.
  • The best sneaky good game on this list might be Louisiana Tech and Appalachian State.
  • Likewise, the best big game that’s not in the New Year’s Six or in January might just be the Russell Athletic Bowl between Florida State and Oklahoma State. Each of those two teams could use a big win to finish the season in the top 10 and springboard into 2016.
  • It remains possible that Memphis could capture wins over Ole Miss and Mississippi State in this scenario. The Tigers may miss out on a New Year’s Six spot but hey, selling shirts with "State Champs on them should definitely be a fun offseason move to rankle the schools to the south of campus.

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You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.