With the College Football Playoff rankings getting released, we can now make some Orlando Bowl Game Projections and see who will play in the Citrus Bowl.
The College Football Playoff committee released its first poll of the 2015 season Tuesday which means we can actually take a look at the college bowl picture and Orlando’s three bowl games.
The picture has become clearer for which six teams will be coming to Orlando for the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Autonation Cure Bowl (the first edition!).
There is still a lot of football to be played for these games to get ordered out. And everything that happens in Orlando will be determined by what happens nationally — especially since the Citrus Bowl has first pick of SEC and Big Ten teams.
With games starting to pick up again this week, we wanted to take a snapshot at what the bowl picture looks like this week and see who might be coming to Orlando.
College Football Playoff
The first place we have to start is with the College Football Playoff. That sets everything in motion for the conference bowl affiliations and tell us the available pool of teams for the remaining bowl games.
Based on this week’s rankings, here is where the New Years’ Six bowl games should shake out:
Orange Bowl (National Semifinal): (1) Clemson vs. (4) Alabama
Cotton Bowl (National Semifinal): (2) LSU vs. (3) Ohio State
Sugar Bowl: (6) Baylor vs. (10) Florida
Rose Bowl: (7) Michigan State vs. (11) Stanford
Fiesta Bowl: (5) Notre Dame vs. (8) TCU
Peach Bowl: (9) Iowa vs. (13) Memphis
Generally these teams should fill out the New Years’ Six bowl games. There will be some adjustments obviously for results coming down the pipe. Alabama plays LSU this weekend, although it is very likely the loser remains in consideration.
Florida could very easily fall out of the New Years’ Six bowl games if the team loses in the SEC Championship Game. The same could be said for Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game.
For this week, let’s proceed under these assumptions. We are simply taking a snapshot of the bowl picture as it stands now.
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
Florida Citrus Sports actually helped us out with a little infographic following the release of the College Football Playoff’s first poll Tuesday:
Our best guess at the postseason if the season ended today, using the first College Football Playoff rankings. pic.twitter.com/zS0JqDA9z7
— FloridaCitrusSports (@FCSports) November 4, 2015
It would look like Michigan or Ole Miss are the preferred choices today.
I would agree with the Wolverines are the likely pick to fill the first Big Ten bowl slot after the Playoffs. The Jim Harbaugh story is too hard to pass up, especially since the pickings are not as interesting after Michigan.
As the infographic says, Northwestern, Penn State and Wisconsin would all be other options for the Big Ten’s slot. Northwestern will play Penn State and Wisconsin in the next two weeks. Michigan will also play Penn State. All three lack a major draw like Harbaugh and the Michigan brand.
If Iowa is available, the team would be the obvious pick as one of the top three teams in the Big Ten. Michigan in that second tier muddies everything up. But to get John Harbaugh in his first bowl game with the Wolverines would be too hard to miss.
The SEC is a little more difficult to project.
Assuming LSU, Alabama and Florida are all selected, the Citrus Bowl would be left selecting out of Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Georgia. Ole Miss would probably be the best selection of those four.
However, Ole Miss is also slated to open the season next year in the Citrus Bowl against Florida State. Florida Citrus Sports and even Ole Miss may look at this situation and decide to sit this one out to make sure everyone still enjoys the novelty of traveling to Orlando.
Ole Miss could very well go 2-1 with a game vs. LSU at home still remaining on the schedule. Texas A&M still has a trip to LSU ahead too. The rest of the playoff may shake out, but I still believe FCS goes with Texas A&M for now.
Maybe the hope from Florida Citrus Sports is for Florida to lose to Florida State and drop out of the New Years’ Six bowl games and into their laps.
Projection: (17) Michigan vs. (19) Texas A&M
Russell Athletic Bowl
Right now, Florida Citrus Sports is projecting itself to have Florida State take on Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Both teams present a small problem for this particular bowl game.
The Seminoles will open the season next year at the Citrus Bowl against the Rebels, as noted previously. Florida State is a bit different because the team has a strong Florida fan base. Seminoles will fill the bowl no matter when or where they play in Orlando.
The Seminoles would be an easy pick for the Russell Athletic Bowl if they are available.
Looking at the ACC’s bowl selection process, Russell Athletic Bowl has the first pick of ACC teams after the New Year’s Six bowl games. With Clemson off the board, Florida State is the easy pick over North Carolina.
In the Big 12, the Russell Athletic Bowl has second pick of conference teams following the New Year’s Six. The Valero Alamo Bowl will pick before the Russell Athletic makes its selection.
The Big 12 is a major mess right now and the only selections that would make sense for either the Alamo or the Russell Athletic Bowl would be Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. The Cowboys are still undefeated and could climb up making the decision that much harder.
Assuming things stay the way they are — Oklahoma State plays TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma at home in the next four weeks — the winner of Bedlam could easily head to San Antonio.
Considering the Sooners played the Russell Athletic Bowl last year, I would imagine some back room dealing could be made to avoid that repeat. Oklahoma State should be the pick assuming the Alamo Bowl does not up and take them anyway, creating a high profile matchup for Orlando.
Projection: (16) Florida State vs. (14) Oklahoma State
AutoNation Cure Bowl
Orlando’s newest game on the bowl scene is going to feature some smaller conference teams with an American team taking on a Sun Belt team. Without any history, it is hard to figure out who the Cure Bowl might favor. There certainly is no chance of a repeat matchup this time around.
The American does not do a bowl order, it lets the five bowls select the game which is best for their affiliate schools. That is why everyone more or less assumed UCF was headed home for this inaugural bowl game.
If things hold up, the American champion — whether it is Memphis or Houston — will be going to a New Years’ Six bowl game. The likely American bowl teams are Temple, Cincinnati, Houston/Memphis, Navy and then a collection of 4-4 teams that includes Connecticut, USF and Tulsa.
The selection options here are not great for the Cure Bowl. USF could easily get a home game and remain in St. Petersburg for the St. Petersburg Bowl.
Whoever loses out between Memphis and Houston would probably be a better fit for the Military Bowl in Texas, although Navy would be a good fit too. Temple would be the next best pick and may just get to go to whatever bowl game the team wants in the AAC order — likely Birmingham Bowl and a shot against the SEC.
In any case, I would suspect one of these two teams take those two bowl games against power five conference teams.
So now, the Cure Bowl is fighting with the Hawaii Bowl, Boca Raton Bowl and Miami Beach Bowl. Considering the Sun Belt is the opponent, the Cure Bowl might be last in the pecking order.
Projecting who these three teams would pick is really just throwing darts. So I am going with a potentially 6-6 Tulsa here (still have UCF and Tulane at home on the schedule).
The Cure Bowl will have the fourth selection of Sun Belt teams, probably further weakening the Cure Bowl’s position to select an American team to the group that is just barely making a bowl game.
Right now only three Sun Belt teams are bowl eligible. The New Orleans Bowl likely takes Appalachian State or Arkansas State. The GoDaddy Bowl takes whichever one is left. And the Camellia Bowl takes Georgia Southern.
That would leave the Cure Bowl to select from Louisiana-Lafayette, South Alabama and Idaho, whichever school gets bowl eligible to be frank. All three are currently under .500 overall and Idaho is 2-3 in conference play, while South Alabama is 1-2. The Vandals still play the Auburn Tigers and the Jaguars this season and could easily fall out of bowl eligibility.
The Ragin Cajuns are the safe pick and the most likely coming to Orlando, provided there are no slip ups in conference.
Projection: Tulsa vs. UL Lafayette