Brett McMurphy’s College Football Bowl Projections After Week 12

Last week, I mentioned how I had projected Oklahoma as my fourth team in the College Football Playoff for the past four weeks and would continue to do so until the Sooners lost.

Well…I had a change of heart.

Actually, it wasn’t so much anything the Sooners did, but more so what their opponents did — Kansas State and Texas both suffered losses last week. The Wildcats and Longhorns will now likely fall out of the College Football Playoff’s Top 25 rankings Tuesday night, impacting Oklahoma’s strength of schedule down the stretch.

Just last week, I was projecting Oklahoma to finish with a very impressive 4-1 record against teams in the College Football Playoff’s Top 25 (Baylor twice, Oklahoma State and Texas), but now if OU runs the table, the Sooners will likely only be 3-0 vs. CFP Top 25 teams (Baylor twice and Oklahoma State) with their loss to K-State now even worse, since the Wildcats will probably no longer remain in the Top 25.

I’m projecting Utah to win the Pac-12 Championship Game and earn the fourth College Football Playoff bid along with undefeated LSU, Ohio State and Clemson.

Since I’ve been projecting LSU to win the SEC, I haven’t had Alabama projected in the playoff for quite some time, but I dropped the Crimson Tide’s projection from the Sugar Bowl to the Orange Bowl because of the impact of the unfortunate season-ending injury to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

I still have Memphis finishing as the highest-rated Group of Five conference champion, but if the American champ — whether it’s Memphis, Navy, Cincinnati or SMU — finishes with two losses, Boise State or Appalachian State, as 1-loss champs from the Mountain West and Sun Belt, respectively, could earn the Group of Five’s Cotton Bowl berth.

I’m also projecting six Group of Five programs to fill bowl spots that will not be occupied by Power Five conference schools. And there could be even more Power Five bowl openings depending on how the final two weeks play out.

Onto this week’s projections:

College Football Playoff

ChampionshipJan. 13 (CFP semifinal winners)
Projection: LSU vs. Ohio State

Peach BowlDec. 28 (CFP semifinal)
Projection: LSU (CFP No. 1) vs. Utah (CFP No. 4)

Fiesta BowlDec. 28 (CFP semifinal)
Projection: Ohio State (CFP No. 2) vs. Clemson (CFP No. 3)

New Year’s 6 Bowls

Rose BowlJan. 1 (Big Ten vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Wisconsin vs. Oregon

Sugar BowlJan. 1 (Big 12 vs. SEC)
Projection: Oklahoma vs. Georgia

Orange BowlJan. 1 (ACC vs. SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame)
Projection: Miami vs. Alabama

Cotton BowlDec. 28 (at-large vs. Group of Five*)
Projection: Florida vs. Memphis*

Other Bowls

Citrus Bowl(Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Michigan vs. Auburn

Outback Bowl(Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Minnesota vs. Texas A&M

Gator Bowl(Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC)
Projection: Indiana vs. Tennessee

Holiday Bowl(Big Ten vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Penn State vs. USC

Liberty Bowl(Big 12 vs. SEC)
Projection: Texas vs. Navy**

Redbox Bowl(Big Ten vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Iowa vs. Washington State

Sun Bowl(ACC vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Wake Forest vs. Arizona State

Military Bowl(ACC vs. American)
Projection: Louisville vs. Cincinnati

Arizona Bowl(Mountain West vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Hawaii vs. Georgia Southern

Belk Bowl(ACC vs. SEC)
Projection: Pitt vs. Kentucky

Alamo Bowl(Big 12 vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Baylor vs. Washington

Camping World Bowl(ACC vs. Big 12)
Projection: Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State

Music City Bowl(ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Virginia vs. Mississippi State

Texas Bowl(Big 12 vs. SEC)
Projection: Iowa State vs. Utah State**

Pinstripe Bowl(ACC vs. Big Ten)
Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Illinois

Independence Bowl(ACC vs. SEC)
Projection: Florida State vs. Louisiana Tech**

Cheez-It Bowl(Big 12 vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Kansas State vs. Air Force**

Quick Lane Bowl(ACC vs. Big Ten)
Projection: North Carolina vs. Michigan State

First Responder Bowl(Big 12 vs. C-USA)
Projection: TCU vs. Marshall

Hawaii Bowl(AAC vs. BYU)
Projection: UCF vs. BYU

Mobile Bowl(MAC vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Central Michigan vs. Louisiana

Armed Forces Bowl(Big Ten vs. Mountain West)
Projection: North Texas** vs. Wyoming

Birmingham Bowl(American vs. SEC)
Projection: SMU vs. UAB**

Idaho Potato Bowl(MAC vs. Mountain West)
Projection: Miami, Ohio vs. San Diego State

Bahamas Bowl(C-USA vs. MAC)
Projection: Charlotte vs. Buffalo

Gasparilla Bowl(American vs. C-USA)
Projection: Tulane vs. FAU

Frisco Bowl(American vs. Open)
Projection: Eastern Michigan** vs. San Jose State**

Boca Raton Bowl(American vs. MAC)
Projection: Temple vs. Toledo

New Orleans Bowl(C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Southern Miss vs. Appalachian State

Camellia Bowl(MAC vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Western Michigan vs. Arkansas State

Las Vegas Bowl(Mountain West vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Boise State vs. Cal

Cure Bowl(American vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Liberty** vs. Georgia State

New Mexico Bowl(C-USA vs. Mountain West)
Projection: Western Kentucky vs. Nevada

*-The highest rated champion from the Group of Five conferences (American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt) will be selected to play in the Cotton Bowl.

**-Replaces team from league that can’t fill bowl.