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College Football Transitivity Rankings - Pre-Bowl Edition

This guy's confused by Michigan State's position in the Transitivity Rankings
This guy's confused by Michigan State's position in the Transitivity Rankings
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl season is undeniably the best time of the year for college football fans. This is doubly true here at the Transitivity Rankings. Bowl season creates matchups you otherwise wouldn't see, opening up new transitive paths all over the college football map.

We'll explore this year's bowl games a little later, but first I'll present the final pre-bowl Transitivity Rankings. If you haven't seen this feature before, make sure to check out the season's first post before proceeding.

Clemson, the nation's only remaining unbeaten, is our undeniable number 1. The next few spots are somewhat surprising, however. Sometime between our last check-in and now, the Big Ten overtook the SEC as the Transitivity Rankings' favored conference. Even stranger, four of the conference's teams show up ahead of champions and playoff participants Michigan State.

Bowl Picks

This year, I decided to try making bowl picks based on transitive arguments. The obvious method would be to use the above rankings, choosing the higher ranked team in each matchup. I decided on something a little different, however. In each game, I choose the team with the shorter shortest path to their opponent. For example, there is a three-game path from Kansas State to Arkansas (K-State beat West Virginia, who beat Texas Tech, who beat Arkansas). However, a return path from Arkansas to Kansas State requires at least seven games. Thus Kansas State beats Arkansas by a score of 3 to 7.

I applied this method to each bowl game, and you can see the results below. If both paths were the same length, I don't make a pick (this only happens for seven games). Who knows how well this will work - good or bad, I'll be doing a postmortem when the season is over.

Date Bowl Matchup Pick
Dec. 19 New Mexico Arizona vs. New Mexico Arizona (2 to 3)
Dec. 19 Las Vegas BYU vs. Utah Utah (2 to 4)
Dec. 19 Camellia Ohio vs. Appalachian State Appalachian State (3 to 4)
Dec. 19 Cure San Jose State vs. Georgia State Georgia State (3 to 4)
Dec. 19 New Orleans Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech Louisiana Tech (6 to 7)
Dec. 21 Miami Beach Western Kentucky vs. South Florida South Florida (4 to 6)
Dec. 22 Famous Idaho Potato Akron vs. Utah State Utah State (4 to 5)
Dec. 22 Boca Raton Temple vs. Toledo No Pick (4 to 4)
Dec. 23 Poinsettia Boise State vs. Northern Illinois No Pick (4 to 4)
Dec. 23 GoDaddy Bowling Green vs. Georgia Southern Georgia Southern (3 to 4)
Dec. 24 Bahamas Middle Tenn. vs. Western Michigan Middle Tenn. (4 to 5)
Dec. 24 Hawaii San Diego State vs. Cincinnati Cincinnati (4 to 7)
Dec. 26 St. Petersburg Connecticut vs. Marshall Connecticut (4 to 6)
Dec. 26 Sun Miami (Fla.) vs. Washington State Washington State (4 to 5)
Dec. 26 Heart of Dallas Washington vs. Southern Miss Washington (5 to 6)
Dec. 26 Pinstripe Indiana vs. Duke No Pick (5 to 5)
Dec. 26 Independence Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech No Pick (5 to 5)
Dec. 26 Foster Farms UCLA vs. Nebraska UCLA (2 to 4)
Dec. 28 Military Pittsburgh vs. Navy Navy (4 to 6)
Dec. 28 Quick Lane Central Michigan vs. Minnesota Minnesota (4 to 6)
Dec. 29 Armed Forces California vs. Air Force California (2 to 4)
Dec. 29 Russell Athletic North Carolina vs. Baylor Baylor (5 to 7)
Dec. 29 Arizona Nevada vs. Colorado State Colorado State (2 to 3)
Dec. 29 Texas LSU vs. Texas Tech Texas Tech (2 to 7)
Dec. 30 Birmingham Auburn vs. Memphis Memphis (2 to 5)
Dec. 30 Belk NC State vs. Miss. State Miss. State (3 to 6)
Dec. 30 Music City Texas A&M vs. Louisville Texas A&M (3 to 6)
Dec. 30 Holiday USC vs. Wisconsin No Pick (4 to 4)
Dec. 31 Peach Houston vs. Florida State Florida State (3 to 4)
Dec. 31 Orange Clemson vs. Oklahoma Clemson (3 to No Path)
Dec. 31 Cotton Alabama vs. Michigan State Alabama (3 to 5)
Jan. 1 Outback Northwestern vs. Tennessee Northwestern (5 to 6)
Jan. 1 Citrus Michigan vs. Florida No Pick (5 to 5)
Jan. 1 Fiesta Notre Dame vs. Ohio State Ohio State (4 to 6)
Jan. 1 Rose Iowa vs. Stanford Iowa (2 to 5)
Jan. 1 Sugar Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss Oklahoma State (3 to 7)
Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Georgia vs. Penn State Georgia (5 to 7)
Jan. 2 Liberty Kansas State vs. Arkansas Kansas State (3 to 7)
Jan. 2 Alamo Oregon vs. TCU Oregon (4 to 5)
Jan. 2 Cactus West Virginia vs. Arizona State No Pick (5 to 5)
Jan. 11 Championship Game Orange Winner vs. Cotton Winner Clemson (4 to No Path)

Interactive Path Finder

If you want to check my work from the above table, this is your chance. Below, you can find the shortest path of victories between any two FBS teams. The longest path on the map is 12 games long, and can be found in multiple ways. I won't list all possible pairs, but they all start with either Tulane, SMU, or North Texas. Switch the criterion to actual distance, and the longest path is about 10,000 miles from Tulane to Houston.