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CFP Poll Week 2: What It Means For The Citrus Bowl

The College Football Playoff released its latest rankings Tuesday, giving Florida Citrus Sports its best chance yet to project which teams could be visiting Orlando for the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 at Camping World Stadium.

With three regular season weeks left to play and so many conference races still up in the air, it’s nearly impossible to guess exactly how things might shake out come December, but here’s how things are looking as we head into Week 11:

Based on the Nov. 7 standings, No. 1 Georgia and No. 4 Clemson would meet in the Sugar Bowl — the most regionally appropriate game for the Bulldogs and Tigers of the two CFP semifinals. That would leave Alabama and Notre Dame to play in the other semifinal at the Rose Bowl in a rematch of the 2013 BCS Championship Game.

With the Rose and Sugar Bowls both hosting semifinals, most of the New Year’s Six conference tie-ins would no longer need to be satisfied, however No. 7 Miami — the highest-ranked non-CFP team from the ACC — would be assigned to the Orange Bowl due to the game’s contract with the conference. The Hurricanes’ projected opponent in the game would be No. 8 Wisconsin, currently the highest-ranked non-CFP team among the SEC, Big Ten and Notre Dame following losses by Ohio State and Penn State in Week 10.

From there, one could surmise that No. 5 Oklahoma would land in the Cotton Bowl, possibly against Pac-12 champ Washington, the only remaining conference champion without a New Year’s Six bowl destination. That would leave No. 6 TCU, No. 10 Auburn, No. 11 USC and No. 18 UCF (the highest-ranked Group of 5 team) to fill out the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. Should the committee assign teams regionally, we could end up with TCU-USC in the Fiesta Bowl and UCF-Auburn in the Peach Bowl, although there’s no requirement for them to do so.

Based on the latest projections, a Big Ten team is not currently slated to appear in the Citrus Bowl, but Penn State is one of several teams that could end up in the discussion should Notre Dame lose and fall out of the CFP semifinals.

Now, what does that all mean for the Citrus Bowl? Well, because a Big Ten team would be playing in a non-semifinal Orange Bowl, the Citrus Bowl would host the highest-ranked non-CFP selection from the ACC, which, based on these particular standings, would be No. 17 Virginia Tech. Although, under this set of circumstances, Florida Citrus Sports would also have the No. 2 non-CFP selection from the ACC (currently North Carolina State) thanks to the Camping World Bowl, and could assign either team to either game.

Virginia Tech or NC State’s Citrus Bowl opponent, based on the current rankings, would be No. 16 Mississippi State, the highest-ranked SEC team outside the CFP series. However No. 24 LSU is also in the picture and could become an even stronger contender for the game should it win and the Bulldogs lose to Alabama this weekend in Starkville.

Of course, there are plenty of ways this picture could — and almost certainly will — be turned on its head over the next several weeks.

In one of a million hypothetical examples, a Notre Dame loss could drop the Irish out of the Rose Bowl, potentially making them available for the Orange Bowl, depending on how far they fall in the rankings. If Notre Dame played in Miami, the Orange Bowl would no longer be pulling a Big Ten team, which means a Big Ten team — likely one of No. 12 Michigan State, No. 13 Ohio State, No. 14 Penn State or No. 20 Iowa  — would go to the Citrus Bowl.

And there are countless other similar chain-reaction situations that could see teams move up or down significantly down the stretch depending who beats whom.

For example, this weekend’s Notre Dame-Miami matchup and the TCU-Oklahoma tilt in Norman will have an immediate impact on how the CFP shakes out (to say nothing of the Michigan State-Ohio State, Georgia-Auburn, Iowa-Wisconsin games this Saturday), so be sure to check back next week to see how things are looking after the third CFP rankings are released. But for the time being, Virginia Tech-Mississippi State is looking like a strong contender to play New Year’s Day in Orlando.

The next round of CFP rankings will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. For a look at what members of the media are currently projecting for the Citrus Bowl, check out our weekly projections roundup.

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