Bracketology/Bowls Expert

Louisville loss, topsy turvy day in SEC shakes up bowl projections

Florida State is projected into the Orange Bowl now. (USATSI)
Florida State is now projected into the Orange Bowl. (USATSI)

It wasn't exactly a huge upset weekend. The teams at the very top of the rankings survivied, but right below the top five, chaos ensued, and the bowl projections got turned upside down. Louisville got things started by losing at home to UCF, which puts the Knights in the drivers' seat for the American conference title and that league's automatic berth in the BCS.

Then, on Saturday, the big names in the SEC went down, on the field and on the scoreboard. Florida lost at Missouri in a battle of backup quarterbacks. South Carolina lost its QB, Connor Shaw, and the game at Tennessee. Georgia, who is already down two running backs and thre receivers, blew a lead at Vanderbilt and lost. Texas A&M had another injury scare with Johnny Manziel. He came back, but the team could not in a home loss to upstart Auburn. And finally, LSU lost on a last second field goal at Ole Miss.

That leaves just three teams in control of their own destiny for the SEC title game: Missouri, which has a two-game lead in the East, Alabama, of course, and Auburn, which hosts the Iron Bowl on November 30th.

That's it. Remember the days of five SEC teams in the top 10? Those appear to be over. In the first BCS, there are four in the top 14, which is the standard for BCS eligiblility, and only Bama and Mizzou are in the top 10.

That made trying to figure out who could land in the Sugar Bowl as Alabama's replacement difficult. It says here that even if Missouri loses in the SEC title game, they'll still be the highest rated team left for the Sugar Bowl. They might even be the only BCS eligible SEC team by then.

Florida State grabbed hold of the ACC race by trampling Clemson on Saturday, and is now slotted in the Orange Bowl. The Seminoles are second in the current BCS, but Oregon is too strong in the polls and still controls its own destiny for Pasadena.

The Orange could grab UCF to play Florida State, which would generate more local interest than national buzz. It says here they'd go with Wisconsin or perhaps a one-loss Big Ten or Big 12 team if one exists over the Knights and that UCF lands in the Sugar Bowl.

If we had a playoff this year:

This section of the blog describes what things might look like if the new playoff system were in effect this year. It's different than the regular bowl projections in that it is based on current data. Beginning next year, a selection committee will not only select and seed a playoff, but also put together matchups for the other four bowls in the playoff rotation. The five major conference champions are all automatically placed in one of those six bowls. The American conference is not part of that group. The highest rated team from outside those leagues is also guaranteed a spot.

If a playoff started today, it would probably look like this:

Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs No. 4 Ohio State

Rose Bowl: No. 2 Oregon vs No. 3 Florida State

Cotton Bowl: Baylor vs UCLA
Orange Bowl: Miami vs Auburn
Fiesta Bowl: Stanford vs Texas Tech
Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Missouri vs UCF

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