After 10 weeks of action on the field, the College Football Playoff released its latest Top 25 poll on Tuesday night, giving Florida Citrus Sports its best chance yet to project which teams could be visiting Orlando and Camping World Stadium for the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28 and the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.
With three regular season weeks and conference championship weekend left to play, it’s difficult to guess exactly how things might shake out come Selection Sunday, but here’s how things are looking as we look ahead to Week 11 of the 2018-19 season:
Based on the Nov. 6 standings, No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Michigan would meet in the Cotton Bowl semifinal, the most regionally appropriate game for the Crimson Tide and Wolverines, who have split their only four meetings, with the most recent coming in 2012. That would leave No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Notre Dame to play in the other semifinal at the Orange Bowl.
From there, the Rose and Sugar Bowls would fill their openings with traditional conference tie-ins. Based on today’s projections, that would pit No. 5 Georgia (the highest-ranked non-playoff SEC team) against No. 6 Oklahoma (the highest-ranked Big 12 team) in the Sugar Bowl, with No. 8 Washington State and No. 10 Ohio State squaring off in the Rose Bowl.
With all the conference tie-ins accounted for, the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl matchups would be assigned using the top four at-large teams, inclusive of the Group of 5 champion. At this point, those teams would be No. 7 LSU, No. 9 West Virginia, No. 11 Kentucky and No. 12 UCF.
So, what does that all mean for the Camping World Bowl and Citrus Bowl?
Starting on New Year’s Day, the Citrus Bowl gets the first pick from both the SEC and Big Ten after the New Year’s Six bowls, and at this point, No. 18 Michigan State, No. 20 Penn State and No. 21 Iowa are the three highest-ranked Big Ten teams outside that CFP window.
All three teams will face tough home tests this weekend, with the Spartans hosting No. 10 Ohio State, the Nittany Lions hosting Wisconsin and the Hawkeyes hosting West division leader Northwestern — a trio of matchups that could cause some shuffling in the polls.
Shifting to the SEC, No. 15 Florida currently represents the conference’s highest-ranked team outside the CFP series, with Mississippi State right on the Gators’ tails at No. 16. However, the Bulldogs visit Alabama this Saturday, while Florida hosts South Carolina in Gainesville.
The Camping World Bowl, on the other hand, gets the first pick from the ACC after the New Year’s Six bowls, and as of today, No. 13 Syracuse is the highest-ranked ACC team (inclusive of Notre Dame) in that window. However, the Orange are followed closely by NC State at No. 14 and Boston College at No. 17.
Among those teams, there is still a head-to-head matchup left between Syracuse and Boston College, and the Orange also have No. 3 Notre Dame remaining on the schedule. Boston College faces No. 2 Clemson on Saturday, while NC State closes its schedule with four teams that are currently under .500 for the season.
In the Big 12, the Camping World Bowl’s pick will depend on what the Alamo Bowl does with the first post-New Year’s Six pick from the conference.
Should the Alamo Bowl select No. 19 Texas, No. 22 Iowa State would be the next highest ranked team in the conference, based on the Nov. 6 rankings.
There are currently no other Big 12 teams ranked behind Iowa State in the CFP Top 25, however, West Virginia’s schedule still includes TCU, Oklahoma State and No. 6 Oklahoma, and a loss in any of those games could drop the Mountaineers out of the New Year’s 6 series and into the Alamo Bowl-Camping World Bowl pick window. Texas and Iowa State will also face off in Austin on Nov. 17 in a game with potentially significant Camping World Bowl implications.
Of course, while some combination of Syracuse, NC State or Boston College against Texas or Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl and Michigan State, Penn State or Iowa against Florida or Mississippi State in the Citrus Bowl look like strong possibilities today, there are plenty of ways this picture could — and almost certainly will — be turned on its head over the next fewweeks.
The next round of CFP rankings will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. ET. For a look at what members of the media are currently projecting for the Camping World Bowl and Citrus Bowl, check out our weekly projections roundups.