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Mock College Football Playoff, Week 12

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In which the SEC scores a bevy of participants.


Stanford taking out Oregon on Thursday night gave us our first big shakeup at the top of the BCS standings. It also means that we'll have a new semifinal grouping for the first time in these mock playoff scenarios since the beginning of them three weeks ago.

For this week, I'm going to continue the rotation and head back around to the situation coming in 2014 when the Rose and Sugar Bowls are hosting the semifinals. The BCS standings sub in for the selection committee's rankings, and the highest ranked team from each conference is the presumed conference champion.

Semifinal A

No. 1

No. 4

Sugar Bowl

Alabama Stanford

Instead of drawing the Buckeyes for a fourth consecutive week, Alabama is in line to go up against the rough and tumble Cardinal in its semifinal game. For fans of old school manball, this is a dream matchup. I feel like I need to take some ibuprofen just thinking about this one.

Semifinal B

No. 2

No. 3

Rose Bowl

FSU Ohio State

Unlike three weeks ago when I last highlighted this iteration of the playoff, we don't have a big geographical controversy involving Florida State "hosting" a west coast team in Pasadena. While the Rose Bowl does have plenty of history with both the Big Ten and Ohio State, it's hard to say that the Buckeyes have any kind of advantage here.

It also sets up a rematch of Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher. Meyer got the better of Fisher in the three seasons in which the latter was the head coach in waiting in Tallahassee, but Fisher is 1-0 against Meyer as a head coach.

Contract Bowl



Orange Bowl

Clemson Auburn

By contract, the Orange Bowl takes an ACC team against the highest ranked team among the SEC, Big Ten, and Notre Dame. With the ACC champ FSU unavailable, the honor goes to Clemson. Auburn has a healthy lead over Michigan State in the running for the other spot, so the Tigers from the Plains get New Year's in Miami.

Host Bowl Central

Big 12 Champ


Cotton Bowl

Baylor Missouri

Baylor still remains the only undefeated projected conference champ on the outside of the semifinals looking in. Its consolation is getting a spot in its home state. Missouri gets this spot over fellow SEC at-large team Texas A&M because it avoids a South Carolina-Mizzou rematch in the Peach. Plus, Dallas is closer than Atlanta is, and MU gets priority as the higher ranked team. With these talented offenses together, first team to 50 wins.

Host Bowl West

Group of Five


Fiesta Bowl

Fresno State Oregon

Instead of Stanford getting the honors of destroying Fresno State in Glendale, it's now the Ducks doing the deed. The highest ranked team of the so-called "Group of Five" mid-major conferences has a guaranteed spot somewhere, and right now that's Fresno. These are the two westernmost teams that don't have a contracted spot, so sticking them in the Fiesta makes the most sense.

Host Bowl East



Peach Bowl

Texas Agricultural and Mechanical South Carolina

Given the at-large pool of this scenario for this week, which includes three SEC teams, it's not really feasible to avoid an all-SEC bowl somewhere. If you put both Fresno State and Oregon in the Fiesta, and it doesn't make much sense not to, then the Peach is going to be an all-SEC affair. With Texas A&M and South Carolina not facing each other in the regular season, this wouldn't be a rematch and therefore probably would fly. We actually went through this with ACC teams a couple of weeks ago, when Miami (FL) and Clemson were slotted for this game.

If the selection committee decides it doesn't want an all-SEC bowl, then my guess is that Texas A&M, as a western-ish team and the final at-large participant, would get sent out to the Fiesta Bowl to play Oregon. Fresno State then, as the lowest ranked team of anyone, would get the worst geographic draw by being shipped over to Atlanta to face the Gamecocks.

We'll have to see how the committee decides what it wants to do when faced with the possibility of two participants from the same conference in a single bowl. My feeling, obviously, is that it'll be OK if it's not a regular season rematch. This is twice now in four weeks where the bowl pairings that make the most sense for one of the playoff scenarios requires an intraconference matchup. It's a situation the committee will have to deal with sooner or later, and right now, there is no specific policy guiding that decision one way or another.

But anyway, you're reading this correctly. That's five SEC teams in the field. Not too shabby.

Orange-Cotton semifinal scenario

Full explanation of this scenario here.

Cotton Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Stanford

Orange Bowl: No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Ohio State

Rose Bowl: Oregon (Pac-12) vs. Michigan State (Big Ten)

Sugar Bowl: Auburn (SEC) vs. Baylor (Big 12 champ)

Fiesta Bowl: South Carolina (at-large) vs. Fresno State (Group of Five)

Peach Bowl: Clemson (at-large) vs. Missouri (at-large)

Texas A&M falls out of the field thanks to the Rose Bowl no longer being a semifinal. Michigan State swoops in as the designated Big Ten team for that game and kicks the Aggies out of the field. The geographic conundrum here is that one of Clemson, Missouri, and South Carolina has to go out to the Fiesta Bowl to play Fresno State. The Rose and Sugar Bowl bids are covered by contracts, so there's no choice but to send one of the out there. The Gamecocks, as the lowest ranked of those three, get the plane tickets to Arizona. Missouri might have made some sense there, but that would have set up a Clemson-South Carolina rematch in the Peach.

Fiesta-Peach semifinal scenario

Full explanation of this scenario here.

Peach Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Stanford

Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Ohio State

Rose Bowl: Oregon (Pac-12) vs. Michigan State (Big Ten)

Sugar Bowl: Auburn (SEC) vs. Baylor (Big 12 champ)

Orange Bowl: Clemson (ACC) vs. Missouri (SEC/B1G/ND)

Cotton Bowl: Fresno State (Group of Five) vs. South Carolina (at-large)

As I pointed out last week, this is the scenario where the selection committee doesn't have to worry about slotting teams whatsoever. With three of the four non-semifinal bowls being Contract Bowls, the sole Host Bowl has its spots reserved for the Group of Five team and the one at-large team. I guess the committee could fiddle around with the rankings to massage out potential geographic difficulties with the SEC/B1G/ND spot in the Orange Bowl and the one at-large if they were close, but that's a very narrow use case. This one basically is what it is.