The College Football Playoff released its latest rankings Tuesday, giving Florida Citrus Sports its best chance yet to project which teams could be visiting Orlando for the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 at Camping World Stadium.
With three regular season weeks left to play and so many conference races still up in the air, it’s nearly impossible to guess exactly how things might shake out come December, but here’s how things are looking as we head into Week 11:
— CFBPlayoff (@CFBPlayoff) November 8, 2017
Based on the Nov. 7 standings, No. 1 Georgia and No. 4 Clemson would meet in the Sugar Bowl — the most regionally appropriate game for the Bulldogs and Tigers of the two CFP semifinals. That would leave Alabama and Notre Dame to play in the other semifinal at the Rose Bowl in a rematch of the 2013 BCS Championship Game.
With the Rose and Sugar Bowls both hosting semifinals, most of the New Year’s Six conference tie-ins would no longer need to be satisfied, however No. 7 Miami — the highest-ranked non-CFP team from the ACC — would be assigned to the Orange Bowl due to the game’s contract with the conference. The Hurricanes’ projected opponent in the game would be No. 8 Wisconsin, currently the highest-ranked non-CFP team among the SEC, Big Ten and Notre Dame following losses by Ohio State and Penn State in Week 10.
From there, one could surmise that No. 5 Oklahoma would land in the Cotton Bowl, possibly against Pac-12 champ Washington, the only remaining conference champion without a New Year’s Six bowl destination. That would leave No. 6 TCU, No. 10 Auburn, No. 11 USC and No. 18 UCF (the highest-ranked Group of 5 team) to fill out the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. Should the committee assign teams regionally, we could end up with TCU-USC in the Fiesta Bowl and UCF-Auburn in the Peach Bowl, although there’s no requirement for them to do so.
Now, what does that all mean for the Camping World Bowl? Well, because a Big Ten team would be playing in a non-semifinal Orange Bowl, the Citrus and Camping World Bowls would host the top two non-CFP selections from the ACC, which, based on these particular standings, would be No. 17 Virginia Tech and No. 23 North Carolina State.
The Camping World Bowl would then welcome the team that doesn’t go to the Citrus Bowl, and that team’s opponent, in this case, would likely be whichever team of No. 15 Oklahoma State and No. 21 Iowa State is left on the board after the Alamo Bowl makes its pick. (For what it’s worth, the Cowboys appeared in last year’s Alamo Bowl against Colorado.)
Of course, while some combination of Virginia Tech or NC State against Oklahoma State or Iowa State looks like a strong possibility today, there are plenty of ways this picture could (and likely will) be turned on its head — possibly as soon as this week.
For starters, Oklahoma State and Iowa State meet head-to-head in Ames on Saturday, while Oklahoma hosts TCU in Norman, with both games playing major roles in the Big 12 race (as will West Virginia’s remaining slate of Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma). And in the ACC, NC State and Virginia Tech are both on the road this week and will face tough opponents in Boston College and Georgia Tech, respectively.
Further, a Notre Dame loss to Miami this weekend — or to anyone else, for that matter — could drop the Irish out of the Rose Bowl, potentially making them available for the Orange Bowl (which would no longer be pulling a Big Ten team, which means a Big Ten team would go to the Citrus Bowl in the ACC’s place, and so on…). And there are countless other similar chain-reaction situations that could see teams move up or down significantly, depending on how games play out on the field.
The next round of CFP rankings will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. For a look at what members of the media are currently projecting for the Camping World Bowl, check out our weekly projections roundup.