Bowl Projections: Can Baylor make a late College Football Playoff surge?

Monday November 24th, 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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