|Every Monday and Wednesday we publish bowl projections from experts across the web. On Mondays, we offer a bowl projection of our own that may seem crazy at first, but we’ll provide the rationale behind it, explain how it can happen. Hopefully we’ll surprise you not with the pick, but how it falls into place as the season goes on (we invite you to check our picks from the last few years). Each week, we’ll list our earlier picks, and after the bowls are over, we’ll review our projections. On Wednesdays, we provide analysis of the expert projections. Here are the expert picks, notes, our crazy bowl pick and more. (Click here for a list of updated conference tie-ins)
The biggest losers – You’ve heard the phrase, “every week matters,” and I don’t know of a sport where that is more true than in college football. So far this year, there have been six stunning upsets that made it nearly impossible for the teams that lost to make the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State – No matter how you view it, an early-season home loss to Virgina Tech pales in comparison to a loss to at Alabama, TCU, and maybe even West Virginia. Had the Buckeyes defeated the Hokies, they might be ranked No.1.
Arizona State – Following a defeat of playoff contender Notre Dame, the Sun Devils climbed to No. 6, and the heavens were aligned for them to have an opportunity to play No.2 Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship. A win there and they’d be in. But the road there included a stop in Corvallis, which had been hell for Pac-12 BCS Contenders. It remains so today, as the Beavers punished the Sun Devils, and there may be no road to redemption this season.
Baylor – The trip to Morgantown is always tough, and for the Bears, it ended with a season-low 27 points and a 14-point loss. Had the Bears beat the Mountaineers, they’d be 10-0 a shoe-in to the College Football Playoff.
Wisconsin – A wet-and-windy October day, resulted in a Northwestern upset win over the Badgers. Following this game, Wisconsin made a change at quarterback and they’ve reeled off five consecutive wins, culminating in Saturday’s record-setting win against Nebraska. Had the Badgers not fallen in Evanston, they would be 9-1, with games remaining at Iowa, home against No.25 Minnesota, and a prospective Big Ten Championship Game against Ohio State.
Duke – A Devil went down in Carolina last weekend, to find the Hokies at it again. This time, Virginia Tech stunned an 8-1 Duke team that would have all-but-clinched a division title and an appearance in the ACC Championship Game with a win. Instead, the Blue Devils must win out just to make it there, and even if they upset Florida State in the game, you just can’t believe they’ll be in the College Football Playoff.
Missouri – The Tigers are leading the SEC East, and have the inside track to appear in the SEC Championship Game. So why does it feel like it’s been a disappointing season? Because the 8-2 Tigers lost at home to a 3-7 Indiana team that hasn’t won a Big Ten game this season. Without that loss, the Tigers would be 9-1. For the last few years, they have found ways to pull out unexpected victories. If Mizzou won the SEC Championship Game and had only one loss, they’d be a playoff shoe-in.
About the selection committee rankings:
Every Dog has it’s Day – Maybe not in the expert projections, but according to the College Football Playoff selection committee, the Mississippi State Bulldogs are in – provided they beat Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. Currently rated No. 4, the Bulldogs have the best chance to beat a highly-ranked opponent and maintain playoff status. If the Dogs finish 11-1, with wins over Ole Miss, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas and the only blemish being a five-point loss at Alabama, how can they be left out?
These wins are not worth less – Recently, I’ve seen commentary describing wins over teams like Auburn, Ole Miss and Texas A&M as less than impressive, because they now have multiple losses. But these teams played each other and someone had to win and someone had to lose. They played or will play Mississippi State and Alabama, I’m not sure how many teams would have less than two losses with an SEC West schedule.
All three of the experts have Texas A&M in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, and two have them playing Texas. With one game remaining against LSU, the Aggies could still finish 8-4, which could take them to Florida or Tennessee. Ultimately, I think the Texas series will be remain on hold.
Our Crazy Bowl Projections *
West Virginia vs. LSU in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl (October 13)
South Carolina vs. Penn State in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl (October 20)
Duke vs. Notre Dame in the Capital One Orange Bowl (October 27)
Miami (FL) vs. Tennessee in the Belk Bowl (November 3)
Nebraska vs. USC in the Holiday Bowl (November 10)
Texas vs. Florida in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (November 17)