Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
By Zac Ellis
November 24, 2014

Baylor isn’t feeling much respect in the playoff system. Last week it ranked two spots behind TCU -- a team it beat 61-58 earlier this fall -- in the College Football Playoff rankings. But fans in Waco might need only to wait two weeks for their chance at redemption. If Baylor beats a top-15 Kansas State in its regular-season finale, Art Briles’ program could have it best case yet for a spot in the top four.

The playoff’s current top three teams -- Alabama, Oregon and Florida State -- are all near-locks for semifinal berths if they win out. But the No. 4 spot is less certain. Ohio State appeared to be a viable contender for that position last week, but its 35-21 nonconference loss to Virginia Tech looks even worse after the Hokies fell to Wake Forest 6-3 in double overtime last weekend. That’s why Baylor, if it tops Kansas State, might be more impressive to the selection committee than an Ohio State that beats Wisconsin or Minnesota in the Big Ten championship game.

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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. Marshall
Fiesta Dec. 31 Glendale, Ariz. TBD vs. TBD Ohio State vs. UCLA
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. Mich. State
Rose (semifinal) Jan. 1 Pasadena, Calif. TBD vs. TBD Oregon vs. Florida State
Sugar (semifinal) Jan. 1 New Orleans TBD vs. TBD Alabama vs. Baylor
bowl date location matchup pick
New Orleans Dec. 20 New Orleans MWC vs. Sun Belt Fresno State 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. Utah State
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 WKU vs. W. Michigan
Poinsettia Dec. 23 San Diego MWC vs. Navy Colo. 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. Rice
Quick Lane Dec. 26 Detroit ACC vs. Big Ten Virginia vs. Northwestern
Bitcoin Dec. 26 St. Petersburg AAC vs. ACC Cincinnati vs. NC State
Military Dec. 27 Annapolis, Md. AAC vs. ACC BC vs. UCF
Sun Dec. 27 El Paso, Texas ACC vs. Pac-12 Louisville vs. Utah
Independence Dec. 27 Shreveport, La. ACC vs. SEC UNC vs. Arkansas
Pinstripe Dec. 27 Bronx, N.Y. ACC vs. Big Ten Notre Dame vs. PSU
Holiday Dec. 27 San Diego Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Minnesota vs. USC
Liberty Dec. 29 Memphis Big 12 vs. SEC WVU vs. Tennessee
Russell Athletic Dec. 29 Orlando, Fla. ACC vs. Big 12 Clemson vs. Oklahoma
Texas Dec. 29 Houston Big 12 vs. SEC Texas vs. Auburn
Music City Dec. 30 Nashville ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Miami vs. Texas A&M
Belk Dec. 30 Charlotte, N.C. ACC vs. SEC Duke vs. So. Carolina
Foster Farms Dec. 30 Santa Clara, Calif. Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Iowa vs. Arizona
Citrus Jan. 1 Orlando, Fla. Big Ten vs. SEC Wisconsin vs. Missouri
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 Maryland vs. LSU
Alamo Jan. 2 San Antonio Big 12 vs. Pac-12 K-State vs. Ariz. State
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

* -- Accepted bowl bid

** -- Replacement team

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