This is Selection Sunday in college football.
First up will be the unveiling of the Final Four by the College Football Playoff Committee, and the pairings in the Sugar and Rose Bowls. Alabama (Sugar) and Oregon (Rose) are shoo-in's. After that it becomes less definite. It is hard to imagine that the Committee would leave out the only undefeated team. So let's give a spot to Florida State. Hopefully their parole officers will let them travel to Louisiana (Sugar) or California (Rose).
That leaves one slot with three contenders. TCU and Baylor are both 11-1, and co-champions of the Big 12. Baylor won the head-to-head match up, so they would presumably be considered the conference champion, protestations from the Big 12 notwithstanding. So my guess would be that Baylor has a slightly better chance than TCU. But they both could be trumped by Ohio State, which had a monster game in the Big 10 Championship, wiping out Wisconsin to finish 12-1.
We have an SEC team (Alabama- ESPN can take a deep breath). We have a Pac-12 team (Oregon). We presumably have an ACC team (Florida State). And we have either a Big 12 team (Baylor or TCU) or a Big 10 team (Ohio State). And we have either the Big 12 or the Big 10 shut out of the National Semifinals.
How long will it take before the first call to expand the field to eight teams? One minute? 30 seconds? The unveiling of the Rose and Sugar teams is supposed to take place around 9:45 Pacific time.
Next up, at 11:45 Pacific time, the Playoff Committee will announce the teams which will be playing in the other prestige games- Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Peach. This will give us our first real insight into UCLA's future. If Arizona makes the Fiesta or Cotton Bowl despite being waxed by Oregon, then the other Pac-12 teams, including the Bruins, move up. If Arizona gets kicked out of the prestige bowls, then all the other Pac-12 bowl eligible teams including Arizona will need to be squeezed into the Alamo, Holiday, Sun, etc bowls.
And if Arizona gets kicked out, that would mean only one Pac-12 team for the 12 available prestige slots. This would send us right back to the BCS era, when the Pac-12 basically got screwed by the big four bowls, and finally had to threaten to drop out of the BCS system if Oregon State did not receive a Fiesta Bowl slot.
So if we only have one Pac-12 team in the 12 slots, watch for commissioner Larry Scott to blow a gasket. And rightfully so. The Pac-12 clearly is a top conference, and to have only one team deemed worthy would be absurd. If nothing else, the Pac-12 schools would logically start scheduling cupcakes at every turn, since strength of schedule would have been demonstrated to be a fraud criterion. Hopefully, we won't need to worry about such things.
Also at 11:45 Pacific time, along with the match-ups in the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, and Rose Bowls, the Committee will announce the rest of the top 25. That will give us plenty to mull over.
There are obviously huge implications for UCLA surrounding Arizona's inclusion or exclusion from the Fiesta or Cotton Bowl. But also watch to see if Kansas State is picked by the Football Playoff Committee for a prestige bowl slot.
If Arizona is in a Prestige slot, then UCLA should be the favorite for an Alamo bid. And the Alamo opponent would come from the Big 12. If Kansas State is in a prestige Bowl slot, then every other Big 12 team moves up one, including the next teams in the conference standings- Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia, all of whom finished 5-4. But if Kansas State is not included by the Football Playoff Committee in a prestige game, then Kansas State enters the Alamo mix.
After the Playoff Committee has done its work, the rest of the bowls look at their options and start choosing teams. This thread will remain open until UCLA gets an invite. Once that happens, we will switch over and we can all dissect our next and final game of the 2014 season.
Go Bruins !!
UPDATE 1- National Semifinalists- Alabama (#1) vs. Ohio State (#4) in the Sugar Bowl
Oregon (#2) vs. Florida State (#3) in the Rose Bowl
UPDATE 2- Coaches' Poll
As you can see, we moved up 2 spots without playing this weekend. The same logic, + or - a spot, should apply in the College Football Playoff rankings. So we will be on the outside looking in for a prestige bowl slot. And we only have ourselves to blame, with the Stanford loss.
If the bowls were determined based on the Coaches' Poll, then UCLA would be headed to the Alamo Bowl, as the best ranked Pac 12 team outside the prestige bowls. But our opponent would be #24 Oklahoma, as the best ranked Big 12 team outside the prestige bowls.
Hopefully, the Playoff Committee will knock Kansas State out of the prestige bowl slots. That would enable the Bruins, if selected by the Alamo Bowl, to play a solid 9-3 team (7-2 in conference), with all three losses to top 20 teams. Oklahoma, by contrast, is 8-4, but only 5-4 in conference, including an ugly loss yesterday to an Oklahoma State team which only became bowl eligible at 6-6 with that win.
UPDATE 3- AP Poll
Here is the current AP Poll-
As you can see, UCLA moved up two spots, just as in the Coaches' Poll. But using this poll, if Kansas State retains a prestige bowl slot, UCLA would wind up playing an unranked Big 12 team (presumaby Oklahoma) if we are in the Alamo Bowl. Somewhat ironically, even though the Alamo Bowl has a higher payout and gets to pick first among the Pac-12 teams, if UCLA doesn't get to play Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl, we would be more likely to face a ranked opponent if we were dropped into the Holiday Bowl (against possibly Nebraska). Go figure.
UPDATE 4- Final College Football Playoff Committee Rankings-
As you can see, the table is set nicely for a decent matchup for the Bruins- #14 vs. #11 Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl. Not as nice, obviously, as Rose Bowl vs. Florida State, but beggars can't be choosers.