Last weekend saw a major reshuffling of the top 10 -- and of the bowl projections.
Three huge games in the SEC West reshaped the top 10, the potential playoff teams and the projections. The same thing could happen this week, with Mississippi at Texas A&M and Auburn at Mississippi State. The Baylor-TCU game in the Big 12 will have far-reaching implications, as could Oregon-UCLA and Arizona-USC in the Pac-12.
As for the ACC, Florida State looks to be a lock for the playoffs, and don't forget that a second league team is contractually obligated for the Orange. The Big Ten? Because of the carnage last weekend, Michigan State now has a shot at a playoff bid, but the thought here is the Spartans won't get one and will be the only Big Ten team to play in one of the "playoff affiliated" bowls.
In addition, Notre Dame's win over Stanford now has the Irish in one of the "big" bowls.
Remember that four bowls have been added this season, so when you include the two playoff semifinal games that will be played in bowls, there are 38 bowls. That means 76 teams will be in the postseason -- or 59 percent of the 128 teams in the FBS ranks.
This season, the playoff semifinals are in the Rose and Sugar bowls, meaning the 13-person playoff selection committee also will pick the matchups in the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange and Peach bowls. While there are 12 teams involved in the six games, it's not necessarily the 12 highest-ranked teams by the committee; instead, the highest-ranked team from outside of the "Power Five" conferences is guaranteed a slot in one of the games, even if it falls outside the top 12. (Just don't expect a non-Power Five school to be in a four-team playoff.) We're still high on Marshall for that spot; the Herd should finish unbeaten. While East Carolina appears to be better than Marshall, the thought here is that the Pirates' defense is going to cost them a game. The question then becomes does a two-loss ECU team trump an unbeaten Marshall squad?
When looking over these bowl projections, remember that a bowl's tie-in with a league doesn't necessarily mean it will get the third- or fourth-, etc., place team from the league; instead, it means it gets the third or fourth, etc., selection from that league. You'll also notice that there is no clear-cut designation for some of the league tie-ins; that's because the leagues and bowl organizers want a lot of leeway to put together what they consider the best possible matchup. For instance, Georgia and Nebraska have met in the past two postseasons; it's hard to imagine bowl organizers would match them for a third consecutive season.
Note: Start times listed are ET.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
THE OTHER BOWLS
NEW ORLEANS BOWL
ROYAL PURPLE BOWL
NEW MEXICO BOWL
IDAHO POTATO BOWL
MIAMI BEACH BOWL
BOCA RATON BOWL
POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL
Date: Dec. 24
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mountain West No. 3/4
Projection: Western Kentucky vs. Air Force
Note: One thing to remember about this game is that it makes sense to take a Mountain West team that does not play at Hawaii during the regular season. Air Force does not.