You may have felt a bit of déjà vu when the College Football Playoff released its latest poll Tuesday night, as very little has changed following a Week 12 slate that was fairly light on upsets. Still, the newest rankings give Florida Citrus Sports its most up-to-date look yet at the Top 25 and what it could mean for the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28 at Camping World Stadium.
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) November 22, 2017
As always, we’ll start our breakdown with the not-so-tacit acknowledgement that there’s still plenty of football ahead of us — football that will almost certainly have a significant impact on these rankings by the time Selection Sunday hits us on Dec. 3.
For example, No. 2 Miami and No. 3 Clemson still have to play for the ACC championship on Dec. 2 in Charlotte. And while it’s not necessarily a given that the winner of that game will be the only one of the two to reach the CFP semifinals, that’s the assumption most prognosticators are making.
If one of those ACC powers drops out of the Top 4, it could open a spot for No. 5 Wisconsin — assuming, of course, that the Badgers top Ohio State in the Big Ten title game in Indy, a result that could change the calculus for both Florida Citrus Sports bowls.
But as long as we can all agree that we’re breaking things down based on the Nov. 21 rankings strictly in a vacuum, let’s take a look at what they mean for the Camping World Bowl game:
For starters, the CFP can’t match two teams from the same conference in a semifinal, so No. 1 Alabama would face No. 3 Clemson in a CFP championship rematch at the Sugar Bowl — the ‘Canes and Tigers swapped places in this week’s rankings — while No. 2 Miami and No. 4 Oklahoma would meet in the Rose Bowl.
With the Rose and Sugar Bowls both hosting semis, most of the New Year’s Six conference tie-ins would no longer need to be satisfied, however No. 25 Virginia Tech — 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. Their opponent would be the highest-ranked non-CFP team among the Big Ten, SEC and Notre Dame, which, in this case, would be Wisconsin.
The Hokies taking North Carolina State’s place in this hypothetical Orange Bowl following the Wolfpack’s loss to Wake Forest is the biggest change from last week’s poll to this week’s. From there, it’s up to the CFP committee to decide who goes where among the rest of the New Year’s Six bowls, but at the very least, we know which teams would likely be involved.
As of Tuesday, No. 15 UCF is the highest-ranked Group of 5 team and would likely be headed to either the Fiesta or Peach Bowl as a result. The final five New Year’s Six spots would then be divvied up among No. 6 Auburn, No. 7 Georgia, No. 8 Notre Dame, No. 9 Ohio State and the Pac-12 champ, which we’ll say is No. 11 USC, which will play Washington State or Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game, depending on the result of the Apple Cup this weekend.
Of those New Year’s Six bowls, the biggest one to keep an eye — at least as it relates to us — is the Orange Bowl. Because when a Big Ten team goes to Miami, the Citrus Bowl replaces its traditional Big Ten pick with the top non-Playoff selection from the ACC. When that happens (as it did last year) Florida Citrus Sports ends up with the top two non-CFP picks from the ACC and can distribute them to the Citrus Bowl and Camping World Bowl as it pleases.
There are no ACC teams ranked behind Virginia Tech in the current CFP Top 25, but if we use the AP poll as a reference, NC State and Wake Forest (fourth and sixth in the “others receiving votes” category, respectively) would be the top two teams in line to represent the ACC. The Camping World Bowl would welcome the team that does not play in the Citrus Bowl.
John Wolford leads the ACC with a 163.5 passing efficiency, seventh in the nation. If he maintains his current rate, he will break the Wake Forest school record by 15 points. #WhyNotJohn pic.twitter.com/US51Wmg6ZR
— Wake Forest Football (@WakeFB) November 22, 2017
As for the ACC’s opponent? Based on the above projections, both No. 12 TCU and No. 19 Oklahoma State — which dropped six spots after slipping up last week against Kansas State — would be the two highest-ranked teams available out of the Big 12, and the Camping World Bowl has the second non-CFP pick out of the conference behind the Alamo Bowl.
The Horned Frogs and Cowboys are both heavy favorites this week against Baylor and Kansas, respectively, and TCU will play Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship. That rematch is one of several remaining games that could potentially flip the CFP poll — and, in turn, the Camping World Bowl selection process — on its head over the next couple weeks.
In another example, if the Big Ten champ finds itself in the Top 4, it could open the door for an SEC team or Notre Dame to play in the Orange Bowl, which would lead to the Citrus Bowl drawing from the Big Ten instead of the ACC, which means just one ACC team heads to Orlando this bowl season. Or if Notre Dame loses at Stanford this weekend and falls in the polls, it, too, could potentially be available for a Citrus or Camping World Bowl selection.
So before we get too carried away, it’s probably best to just sit tight, enjoy rivalry weekend and see what happens. And if you’re looking for a couple important games to keep an eye on this weekend, our best advice is to start with the ones that everyone is already planning on watching anyway.
The next round of CFP rankings will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 28. Check back for our latest poll breakdown next week.