College football bowl projections: Is Ohio State now a viable playoff threat?

By Zac Ellis
November 18, 2014

Is Ohio State suddenly a viable College Football Playoff threat? After Week 12 of the 2014 college football season, that appears to be the case.

The Buckeyes fell out of the playoff conversation for much of the year following a 35-21 home loss to Virginia Tech on Sept. 6, but they might have a better case than people expect by season’s end. If one-loss Ohio State wins out, that would mean its résumé features a Big Ten title -- perhaps over a solid Wisconsin team -- and a win over a top-10 Michigan State. The question is how that’d compare to the résumés of one-loss TCU or Baylor, neither of which would play in a league title game. As a result, Ohio State could look better to the selection committee.

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Before moving forward, a quick reminder on how this all works. The selection committee fills the two semifinal bowls based on its final rankings. It then rounds out the four non-playoff New Year’s Six bowls, while fulfilling certain contractual obligations, such as pitting an ACC team against an SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame team in the Orange Bowl. The remaining teams are then fed into each league’s contract bowls. If a league doesn’t produce enough bowl-eligible teams, bowls can invite replacement teams from other leagues.

This season the ACC, Big Ten and SEC have each pooled a select number of bowls together and will decide where to place teams. While the Big 12 and Pac-12 use a more straightforward method -- the Pac-12’s No. 2 choice would go to the Alamo Bowl, the No. 3 to the Holiday Bowl, etc. -- the process for the other three Power Five leagues is less structured. For instance, the ACC’s No. 2 choice will go to the Russell Athletic Bowl, but teams Nos. 3-6 can land anywhere among the Sun, Belk, Music City/Taxslayer or Pinstripe bowls.

Keep in mind, “Pac-12 No. 2” doesn't mean the Pac-12’s second-place team. Fan travel and geographical location factor into bowl selection as much as conference standings. Thus, leagues aren't obligated to fill bowls based on records.

Bowl Date Location Matchup Pick
Peach Dec. 31 Atlanta TBD vs. TBD Georgia vs. Colo. State
Fiesta Dec. 31 Glendale, Ariz. TBD vs. TBD Baylor vs. Mich. State
Orange Dec. 31 Miami ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND Ga. Tech vs. Miss. State
Cotton Jan. 1 Arlington, Texas TBD vs. TBD TCU vs. UCLA
Rose (semifinal) Jan. 1 Pasadena, Calif. TBD vs. TBD Oregon vs. Florida State
Sugar (semifinal) Jan. 1 New Orleans TBD vs. TBD Alabama vs. Ohio State
bowl date location Matchup pick
New Orleans Dec. 20 New Orleans MWC vs. Sun Belt Temple* vs. Ark. State
New Mexico Dec. 20 Albuquerque, N.M. C-USA vs. MWC La. Tech vs. Nevada
Las Vegas Dec. 20 Las Vegas MWC vs. Pac-12 Boise State vs. Stanford
Idaho Potato Dec. 20 Boise, Idaho MAC vs. MWC BGSU vs. SDSU
Camellia Dec. 20 Montgomery, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt Toledo vs. So. Alabama
Miami Beach Dec. 22 Miami AAC vs. BYU Memphis vs. BYU
Boca Raton Dec. 23 Boca Raton, Fla. C-USA vs. MAC Rice vs. W. Michigan
Poinsettia Dec. 23 San Diego MWC vs. Navy Utah State vs. Navy
Bahamas Dec. 24 Nassau, Bahamas C-USA vs. MAC MTSU vs. C. Michigan
Hawaii Dec. 24 Honolulu C-USA vs. MWC UTEP vs. Air Force
Heart of Dallas Dec. 26 Dallas Big Ten vs. C-USA Rutgers vs. Marshall
Quick Lane Dec. 26 Detroit ACC vs. Big Ten Va. Tech vs. W. Kentucky*
Bitcoin Dec. 26 St. Petersburg AAC vs. ACC Cincinnati vs. Buffalo*
Military Dec. 27 Annapolis, Md. AAC vs. ACC UCF vs. BC
Sun Dec. 27 El Paso, Texas ACC vs. Pac-12 Louisville vs. Utah
Independence Dec. 27 Shreveport, La. ACC vs. SEC NC State vs. Arkansas
Pinstripe Dec. 27 Bronx, N.Y. ACC vs. Big Ten Notre Dame vs. Maryland
Holiday Dec. 27 San Diego Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Minnesota vs. USC
Liberty Dec. 29 Memphis Big 12 vs. SEC West Virginia vs. Missouri
Russell Athletic Dec. 29 Orlando, Fla. ACC vs. Big 12 Duke vs. Kansas State
Texas Dec. 29 Houston Big 12 vs. SEC Texas vs. Texas A&M
Music City Dec. 30 Nashville ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Clemson vs. Tennessee
Belk Dec. 30 Charlotte, N.C. ACC vs. SEC Miami vs. So. Carolina
San Francisco Dec. 30 Santa Clara, Calif. Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Iowa vs. Arizona
Citrus Jan. 1 Orlando, Fla. Big Ten vs. SEC Wisconsin vs. Auburn
Outback Jan. 1 Tampa, Fla. Big Ten vs. SEC Nebraska vs. Ole Miss
Armed Forces Jan. 2 Fort Worth, Texas ACC vs. Army Houston vs. Cal*
TaxSlayer Jan. 2 Jacksonville, Fla. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Penn State vs. LSU
Alamo Jan. 2 San Antonio Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Oklahoma vs. Ariz. St.
Cactus Jan. 2 Tempe, Ariz. Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Ohio* vs. Washington
Birmingham Jan. 3 Birmingham, Ala. AAC vs. SEC Florida vs. E. Carolina
GoDaddy Jan. 4 Mobile, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt NIU vs. UL-Lafayette

* -- Replacement team

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