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Mock College Football Playoff, Week 15

It's the last dress rehearsal before the big one at the end.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

Today's BCS standings bring us the penultimate mock College Football Playoff, with next week bringing us the big one. Thanks to the rotation I've been following, this week's highlighted setup is the one in which the Rose and Sugar Bowls host semifinals.

As usual, the highest ranked team from each conference is the presumed winner, and the BCS standings sub in for the selection committee's rankings.

Semifinal A

No. 1

No. 4

Sugar Bowl

FSU Alabama

The Crimson Tide remains in "Semifinal A" this week, but this time it's as No. 4 instead of No. 1. This game is arguably more favorable to Bama than to Florida State, as it's closer to Tuscaloosa than Tallahassee, but it's closer than the Rose Bowl is.

Semifinal B

No. 2

No. 3

Rose Bowl

Ohio State Auburn

Who's No. 2 and who's No. 3 really matters this year, but it wouldn't if it was next year. These two would be going to Pasadena regardless, and it doesn't really favor either team. Sure, Ohio State is a Big Ten team and the Rose Bowl has a Big Ten tie, but it's a long way from Columbus and OSU hasn't been in this game since January of 2010.

Contract Bowl



Orange Bowl

Clemson Missouri

By contract, a non-semifinal Orange Bowl will consist of an ACC team (the champ, if possible) against the highest ranked team among the SEC, Big Ten, and Notre Dame. Mizzou fits the bill on the latter point, and Clemson has Duke beat on the former by a mile.

This concludes most of the contracted portions of the proceedings. It gets a little ambiguous from here, so I am giving you my best guesses. The remaining teams in order of ranking are Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Stanford, Baylor, Michigan State, and Northern Illinois.

Host Bowl Central

Big 12 Champ


Cotton Bowl

Oklahoma State Michigan State

Oklahoma State is the highest ranked of the remainders, so it gets the most favorable draw with the Cotton Bowl. The other team that makes sense for it is Baylor, but I don't think the committee is going to want to have regular season rematches.

As you go down the line, the teams between Oklahoma State and Michigan State naturally go elsewhere or are Baylor. That means it's either MSU or Northern Illinois for this game with the other going to Atlanta to face South Carolina. The Spartans are the higher ranked of the two, so I put them against the higher ranked possible opponent. I don't know how exactly they'd play this one, so it might end up an OSU-NIU game instead.

Host Bowl West

Pac-12 Champ


Fiesta Bowl

Stanford Baylor

Stanford is the westernmost team, so it goes in the westernmost bowl. Makes sense, right? Baylor, not being able to go to the Cotton Bowl, will head out to Arizona in a game that has had a Big 12 tie for a while. It's a good contrast of styles, no?

Host Bowl East

Group of Five


Peach Bowl

Northern Illinois South Carolina

By contract, the highest ranked champion of the so-called "Group of Five" mid-major conferences gets a spot somewhere. Right now, it's NIU. South Carolina is a plain old at-large team, and it easily fits in the game in Atlanta. As I noted above, this could easily end up South Carolina against Michigan State instead. We'll have to see what, if any, guidance the committee gives us for situations like this one where there is no clear lean one way or the other.

Orange-Cotton semifinal scenario

Full explanation of this scenario here.

Orange Bowl: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Alabama

Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Auburn

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

Sugar Bowl: Missouri (SEC) vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12 champ)

Fiesta Bowl: Baylor (at-large) vs. Arizona State (at-large)

Peach Bowl: South Carolina (at-large) vs. Northern Illinois (Group of Five)

When not semifinals, the Rose gets its Pac-12 vs. Big Ten matchup, so that's Stanford and Michigan State. When not semifinals, the Sugar gets an SEC vs. Big 12 matchup, so that's Mizzou and Oklahoma State. That then leaves three at-larges and NIU to deal with, and it's quite easy. Arizona State to the Fiesta and South Carolina to the Peach are no-brainers, and putting the Big 12 team in the Fiesta is close to it. This scenario is easy.

Fiesta-Peach semifinal scenario

Full explanation of this scenario here.

Peach Bowl: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 4 Alabama

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

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

Sugar Bowl: Missouri (SEC) vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12 champ)

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

Cotton Bowl: Northern Illinois (Group of Five) vs. South Carolina (at-large)

This scenario is the one in which there are no decisions to be made whatsoever. The semifinals are Nos. 1 through 4. The Rose, Sugar, and Cotton Bowls are covered by contracts. One of the two spots in the Cotton is by process of elimination going to go to the Group of Five representative.

The Orange Bowl has the option of avoiding a regular season rematch by passing over the top available team out of the SEC, Big Ten, and Notre Dame. South Carolina would be slotted for the spot, but I think it would want to avoid that happening. That's why LSU is in that game. When the Orange Bowl does bump someone in order to avoid a rematch, that someone must go into a Host Bowl if it qualifies on its own. South Carolina does, so it heads to the Cotton.