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Bowl Projections 2015: Predicting Playoff Standings and Bowl Games Post Week 11

Bryan Fischer@BryanDFischerNational College Football Columnist November 16, 2015

Nov 14, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates with the Sooner fans after the win over the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium. The Sooners defeat the Bears 44-34. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With another week of college football in the books, the bowl picture is starting to come into focus.

Nowhere is that more clear than when it comes to the College Football Playoff (and New Year’s Six) and the Pac-12, which more than likely dropped from two teams in the prestigious postseason group to just one after losses by both Utah and Stanford.

Neither the Utes nor the Cardinal were treated all that well by the selection committee prior to this week (they were generally lower than their AP Poll positions), and that should continue with Tuesday’s updated set of rankings. With one Power Five league beating itself up to knock itself out of the playoff, who is the biggest beneficiary?

Look no further than Oklahoma.

The Sooners delivered a resounding, complete game on Saturday to knock off Baylor and essentially control their own destiny when it comes to winning the Big 12. Given their already name-brand status, a long-time quality coach in Bob Stoops and the potential for four Top 25 wins in the month of November, Oklahoma has a lot of momentum toward capturing the fourth and final seed.

There is still plenty of football left to be played, but this postseason snapshot is as solid as they come…until next week, that is.

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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.

- Here are the full Top 25 rankings. The College Football Playoff selection committee will release its second set of rankings on Tuesday, Nov. 17, around 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

- The Buckeyes may not look like the top team in the country, but it’s clear that the committee respects what they’ve done and the amount of talent on the squad. Combine that with the potential for a closing run over Michigan State and Michigan, and nobody can move to the top of the rankings as easily as they can based on quality wins this month. Because Oklahoma is projected to be the No. 4 seed and Norman is just up the road from the Cotton Bowl semifinal, Ohio State remains in the Orange Bowl to provide them some minor geographic advantage.

- The order of Alabama/Clemson can be flipped with little to no consequence. A win in the ACC title game and the clean record gives the Tigers the ever-so-slight edge over the Crimson Tide.

Bleacher Report

- We’ve maintained that Houston will be the Group of Five selection for weeks now, and that was further reinforced by the comeback win against Memphis this past weekend. They still need to beat Navy (at home) to win their division and host the AAC title game, but it still seems like this is a train with one destination in the postseason. Even with a loss in the AAC title game, I think it’s still possible the Cougars get the bid over Navy or (in this scenario) Temple, thanks in part to Boise State’s loss all but knocking them out of the running, and Houston owning wins over the other top teams in the AAC.

- With LSU’s loss and the committee not likely to penalize Florida for losing to Alabama in the SEC title game, the Gators will likely stay as the highest ranked SEC team ahead of the Tigers and earn a trip to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. With Oklahoma moving into the final four, Baylor gets the slight nod to get the Big 12 spot in the same bowl, but that could be moot if Oklahoma State wins on Saturday in Stillwater.

- The Pac-12 has only seven secure tie-ins in the bowl structure, but may have as many as 10 teams in the postseason this year, thanks partially to Arizona State beating Washington and Arizona upsetting Utah. The result is the 6-6 teams from out west will find a home in a diverse set of bowl games.

- That said, Cal accepting a bid to face Memphis has to have NFL scouts drooling about a potential Jared Goff vs. Paxton Lynch game.

- Speaking of bowl teams, we’re ahead of schedule in projecting at least the minimum number of 6-6 teams. That means no 5-7 squads sneaking in. Sorry Rutgers, but good news for MAC teams.

- The announcement that the Poinsettia Bowl has been added to the MAC lineup as a normal bowl partner instead of a secondary one this year means the potential for a nice Group of Five matchup between MWC champ/runner-up San Diego State and either Toledo, Bowling Green or Northern Illinois. We’re going with the Rockets for this tilt.

- If you like points, look no further than the Russell Athletic Bowl between UNC and TCU. A Marshall/Cincinnati matchup is a nice undercard in the state of Florida, too.

- If you like good ol’ fashion football, the Pinstripe Bowl between Pitt and Wisconsin is your game.

- Fans of the Texas Bowl should salivate over a potential Texas Tech/Texas A&M matchup. Both teams were bitter rivals in Big 12 play and obviously Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury earned his job due in large part to the work he did in College Station.

- There is a sneaky good game brewing between predicted CUSA champ Louisiana Tech and likely Sun Belt champ Arkansas State in the New Orleans Bowl.

Bleacher Report

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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