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The release of the College Football Playoff doesn't change too much but Iowa might not be a lock for the Rose Bowl, even if they finish the regular season undefeated and drop the Big Ten Championship.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the initial CFB Playoff Rankings were released and as expected, there was a good amount of controversy. Here's the Top 16 (I went with 16 as Ohio State was initially ranked 16th last year):

  1. Clemson
  2. LSU
  3. Ohio State
  4. Alabama
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Baylor
  7. Michigan State
  8. TCU
  9. Iowa
  10. Florida
  11. Stanford
  12. Utah
  13. Memphis
  14. Oklahoma State
  15. Oklahoma
  16. Florida State

I said with the utmost confidence last week that Ohio State would maintain their #1 ranking unless they lost a game. Welp. Wouldn't be the first time I was hilariously wrong. There's going to be plenty of movement in the upcoming weeks as the following top 16 matchups have yet to occur:


Clemson vs. Florida State

Big 10:

Ohio State vs. Michigan State

Big 12:

Baylor vs. Oklahoma

Baylor @ Oklahoma State

Baylor @ TCU

TCU @ Oklahoma State

TCU @ Oklahoma

Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma


Notre Dame @ Stanford


LSU @ Alabama

Florida vs. Florida State

This is excluding the championship games where Clemson could play North Carolina, Iowa could play Ohio State, Stanford could play Utah and LSU could play Florida. Needless to say, it's going to get complicated.

For the sake of my projections, I assume Clemson wins out and takes the ACC crown, LSU survives the SEC, the Big 12 beats itself out of the Playoff, Ohio State wins the Big Ten and Stanford not only wins the Pac-12 but also beats Notre Dame. Of course, that's the easiest way out. Clemsoning is always possible, one of the Big 12 teams could roll, Florida could win the SEC Championship game, Notre Dame could finish undefeated, Utah could beat Stanford and GASP...Iowa could actually beat the winner of the Big Ten East. This is November. And November is a graduate of Crazy Go Nuts University.

There was another interesting development yesterday: even if Iowa goes 12-1 and loses the Big Ten Championship game to Ohio State, they aren't a sure thing for the Rose Bowl. It's common knowledge that the Rose Bowl has the sole discretion to pick a replacement team if the champion of the Big Ten or Pac-12 makes the Playoff. What wasn't known is that despite the Rose Bowl having the ability to pick the team at their discretion, they would likely go with the next highest ranked Big Ten team. At least, that's what Scott Jenkins, Chairman of the Rose Bowl Management Committee told Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register.

In short: sounds like for Iowa to make the Rose Bowl they're going to have to be ranked ahead of the Spartans.

If the scenario were to happen where Michigan State lost to Ohio State and Iowa finished undefeated but lost the Championship game, it would likely come down to two things. First: Who did Iowa and Sparty beat? If Iowa wins out they'll have beaten 19th Wisconsin and 20th Northwestern on the road. I've got Northwestern finishing 8-4/9-3 and Wisconsin finishing 10-2.  Time will tell on Pitt as they still have to play Notre Dame and Duke. They'll likely finish 8-4.

Michigan State has beaten #7 Oregon at home and #12 Michigan on the road. Obviously, this isn't Chip Kelly's Oregon. The Ducks are currently 5-3 and have Cal, Stanford, USC and Oregon State remaining on the schedule. Hypothetically, they could finish 8-4/9-3. I've also got Michigan finishing 9-3, with their only remaining loss coming to Ohio State. While Michigan State has beaten two higher ranked teams, is there a third win that's worth talking about? Penn State, maybe?

Second consideration: margin of defeat. If both Michigan State and Iowa look respectable in their loss to Ohio State, what then? Or if Iowa gets rolled and Michigan State doesn't? Or vice versa?

Iowa should just make this easy and win the whole damn thing.

Regarding the rest of the conference...lordy. Illinois is hanging on a thread as they have to beat Purdue and either Minnesota or Northwestern to become bowl eligible. Minnesota is done. So is Nebraska. Indiana needs to win their final two games. Can...can Rutgers beat Nebraska? Because if they beat Nebraska, Army and Maryland, they're OK. This conference is on the razor's edge of sending only seven teams to bowl games.

The Rules:

  • Four teams are chosen for the College Football Playoff.
  • Six bowls rotate for the semifinals: Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, and Peach.
  • The bowls hosting the semifinals this year are the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl.
  • As the Rose Bowl is not hosting a semi-final, it will select the Big Ten Champion. However, if the Big Ten Champion is a playoff team, the Rose Bowl will select a Big Ten replacement.
  • The highest ranked champion from the Group of Five mid-majors (AAC, C-USA, MAC, MWC, Sun Belt) is guaranteed a spot in the non-playoff bowls if they fail to make the playoff.
  • The Big Ten has a six-year contract with the eight non-playoff bowl games (aside from the Pinstripe, which is an eight-year contract). Per the terms of that contract, the bowls are to select at least five different Big Ten schools over six years.
  • The non-playoff bowl games are informally broken down into three tiers. Tier 1: Holiday, Citrus and Outback. Tier 2: Pinstripe, Music City/TaxSlayer and Foster Farms. Tier 3: Quick Lane and Heart of Dallas/Armed Forces.
  • Over a six-year agreement, signed in 2013, the Big Ten and ACC must appear in three Music City and three TaxSlayer Bowls.
  • Over a six-year agreement, signed in 2013, the Big Ten and Big 12 must appear in three Heart of Dallas and three Armed Forces Bowls. In 2015 the Big 10 will play in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Bowl Projections:

Last 2 Matchups

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX


LSU (2) v. Ohio State (3)

MSU v. Baylor
Okie State v. Mizzou

Capital One Orange Bowl
Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL


Clemson (1) v. Stanford (4)

Miss St. v. G-Tech
Ohio State v. Clemson

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, NOLA


TCU v. Alabama
Big 12 v. SEC

Ohio State v. Alabama
OU v. Alabama

Rose Bowl Game
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA


Michigan State v. Utah
Big 10 v. Pac-12

Oregon v. FSU
MSU v. Stanford

Fiesta Bowl
U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ


Iowa v. Notre Dame
At-Large v. At-Large

Boise State v. Arizona
UCF v. Baylor

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Georgia Dome, ATL, GA


Baylor v. Memphis
At-Large v. At-Large

TCU v. Ole Miss
Texas A&M v. Duke

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL


Wisconsin v. Florida
Big 10 v. SEC

Minnesota v. Mizzou
Wisconsin v. SCar

Outback Bowl
Raymond James, Tampa, FL


Michigan v. Ole Miss
Big 10 v. SEC

Wisconsin v. Auburn
Iowa v. LSU

National University Holiday Bowl
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA


Penn State v. UCLA
Big 10 v. Pac-12

Nebraska v. USC

TaxSlayer/Music City Bowl
EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL or
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN


Northwestern v. Georgia
Big 10/ACC v. SEC

Iowa v. Tennessee*
Nebraska v. Georgia

Foster Farms Bowl
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA


Illinois v. USC
Big 10 v. Pac-12

Maryland v. Stanford

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Yankee Stadium, NY, NY


Indiana v. NC State
Big 10 v. ACC

Penn State v. BC
Notre Dame v. Rutgers

Quick Lane Bowl
Ford Field, Detroit, MI


NIU v. Louisville
Big 10 v. ACC

Rutgers v. UNC

Armed Forces Bowl
AGC Stadium, Fort Worth, TX


Arizona State v. Air Force
Big 10 v. MWC

New Bowl

* - Last 2 refers to appearances in the TaxSlayer Bowl.