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.
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.
|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.