Nov 29, 2017

CFP Poll Week 5: What It Means For The Citrus Bowl Presented by Overton’s

The College Football Playoff released its latest poll on Tuesday, and while the penultimate rankings offer little in the way of certainty as we head into conference championship weekend, the new Top 25 does give Florida Citrus Sports its clearest glimpse yet at which teams could be booking a trip to Orlando for the Citrus Bowl presented by Overton’s on Jan. 1.

If you’ve read these posts before, you know we have to start by stressing that we don’t know who’s coming because we can’t possibly know while there’s still football to be played. (Ten of the top 12 teams in the poll are in action this weekend, and the trickle-down effect of those games could be significant.) The purpose of this exercise is to explain what the Nov. 28 rankings mean in a vacuum. So, with that said, let’s get at it:

The Top 4 is straightforward. Right now, we’re looking at No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Wisconsin in one semifinal (likely the Sugar Bowl), with No. 2 Auburn and No. 3 Oklahoma meeting in the other (in this case, the Rose Bowl). Looking ahead to the weekend, if all four of those teams win their conference championship games, it stands to reason that they’ll all remain in the semifinals in some order.

That would leave No. 7 Miami as the highest-ranked non-semifinal team from the ACC, meaning the Hurricanes stay in town for the Orange Bowl against No. 5 Alabama, the top non-CFP team among the SEC, Big Ten and Notre Dame. This is a departure from previous rankings, which had Wisconsin at No. 5 and tentatively Orange Bowl-bound, and means the Big Ten rule we’ve talked so much about would not be invoked.

Moving on, No. 14 UCF is still the highest-ranked Group of Five team and appears to control its own destiny heading into its AAC championship game against No. 20 Memphis, who would presumably take UCF’s place in the New Year’s Six in the event of a victory in Orlando on Saturday afternoon. The Pac-12 champ is also guaranteed a spot somewhere at the table, meaning either No. 10 USC or No. 12 Stanford is in.

From there, the current poll would result in No. 6 Georgia, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 9 Penn State and No. 11 TCU filling in the rest of the New Year’s Six bowls as at-large selections.

Under that particular setup, the Citrus Bowl would then have its pick of the Big Ten and SEC once the New Year’s Six games have been assigned. Right this second, the highest-ranked teams from those conferences are No. 16 Michigan State from the and No. 17 LSU, respectively, but that’s far from a guarantee that they’ll be playing at Camping World Stadium on Jan. 1.

For starters, other teams from the conferences will be considered. N0. 21 Northwestern and No. 23 Mississippi State are a couple of ranked teams with strong cases of their own, and selections are not made on rankings alone. Further, depending on how the conference championship games and final rankings shake out, additional Big Ten or SEC teams could wind up available, or the Big Ten might not be eligible for the Citrus Bowl at all. In the latter case, No. 15 Notre Dame or an ACC team would play in the game instead.

Long story short: The only thing we really know for sure is that we’re going to have a great game. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait long to find out who the participants in that game will be. The final CFP rankings will be released on Sunday, Dec. 3, at noon, with bowl announcements to follow.


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