For the first time this season, the College Football 24/7 bowl projections don't have Florida State playing in the title game.
FSU is No. 1 in the CFB 24/7 Top 25 Power Rankings, but the thought here is that while FSU will be in the playoffs -- heck, go ahead and put the Seminoles in your bracket in pen -- the Seminoles are not one of the two best teams in the nation. Instead, the projection this week is that two SEC West teams will play for the title. FSU is not going to be tested the rest of the way, and that is going to hurt the 'Noles when they play in a national semifinal. The other three projected teams -- two from the SEC and one from the Pac-12 -- will be vastly more "battle-tested" in the season's second half than FSU.
In addition, as we fully move into the second half of the season, bowl eligibility becomes more and more important to track.
Thus far, 16 teams have reached bowl eligibility -- five in the SEC, three in the ACC and Big Ten and one each from the Big 12, Conference USA, Mountain West, Pac-12 and independent ranks. There are 28 teams with five wins, so expect a relative flood of teams reaching the needed six wins in the next two or three weeks. Still, there will be a few bowl organizers -- not to mention coaches, players and fans -- sweating bowl eligibility out in mid- to late November.
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 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
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
QUICK LANE BOWL
ST. PETERSBURG BOWL
RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL
MUSIC CITY BOWL
SAN FRANCISCO BOWL
ARMED FORCES BOWL
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.