Brett McMurphy’s College Football Bowl Projections: Nov. 17

In a season of postponements, cancellations and never-ending schedule changes, it appears we finally have some certainty regarding the College Football Playoff semifinals and national title game.

Despite speculation regarding that the conference title games and College Football Playoff dates would be moved back, rumors have been squashed in the past few days on several fronts.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said his focus is now on the completion of the SEC season on Dec. 19, the date of the SEC Championship Game. That weekend also is when the remaining nine FBS conferences will hold their title games.

“Having a floating finish day is not healthy,” Sankey said. “At some point, we have to land the airplane on the 2020 season.”

Another indicator is the Heisman Trophy Trust announced the deadline for ballots is Dec. 21 — two days after the conference championship games — and the award will be announced on Jan. 5 (between the semifinal and title game dates). The Heisman Trophy Trust would not make that announcement if they weren’t 100 percent certain the conference commissioners were not considering moving the playoff back any further.

So now that we know when the playoffs will definitely be held, who will be in them?

My projections this week for the College Football Playoff remain the same: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Oregon.

That, of course, is based on Clemson winning over Notre Dame in the ACC title game and Oregon going 7-0 as Pac-12 champions. If Clemson loses to Notre Dame a second time, the Irish would be in the playoff. And if Oregon isn’t undefeated, it opens the door for a variety of possibilities. But until either of those happen, I’m staying with my initial projections.

College Football Playoff

Championship – Jan. 10 (CFP semifinal winners)
Projection: Alabama vs. Ohio State

Sugar Bowl – Jan. 1 (CFP semifinal)
Projection: Alabama (CFP No. 1) vs. Clemson (CFP No. 4)

Rose Bowl – Jan. 1 (CFP semifinal)
Projection: Ohio State (CFP No. 2) vs. Oregon (CFP No. 3)

New Year’s 6 Bowls

Orange Bowl – Jan. 2 (ACC vs. SEC/Big Ten)
Projection: Notre Dame vs. Florida

Fiesta Bowl – Jan. 2 (at-large vs. at-large)
Projection: USC vs. Wisconsin

Peach Bowl – Jan. 1 (at-large vs. at-large)
Projection: BYU vs. Cincinnati*

Cotton Bowl – Dec. 30 (at-large vs. at-large)
Projection: Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M

Other Bowls

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

Arizona Bowl (MAC vs. Mountain West)
Projection: Central Michigan vs. Fresno State

Armed Forces Bowl (AAC vs. Big 12)
Projection: Houston vs. TCU

Birmingham Bowl (AAC vs. SEC)
Projection: UCF vs. Missouri

Boca Raton Bowl (AAC vs. C-USA/BYU/Liberty/MAC)
Projection: Memphis vs. FAU

Camellia Bowl (MAC vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Buffalo vs. Appalachian State

Cheez-It Bowl (ACC vs. Big 12)
Projection: Miami vs. Oklahoma

Citrus Bowl (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Indiana vs. Georgia

Cure Bowl (C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Louisiana Tech vs. Troy

Duke’s Mayo Bowl (ACC vs. Big Ten)
Projection: NC State vs. Iowa

First Responder Bowl (ACC vs. AAC)
Projection: Pitt vs. Tulsa

Frisco Bowl (AAC vs. C-USA)
Projection: SMU vs. UTSA

Gasparilla Bowl (ACC vs. SEC)
Projection: Virginia vs. Ole Miss

Gator Bowl (ACC vs. SEC)
Projection: North Carolina vs. Auburn

Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Big Ten vs. Big 12)
Projection: Nebraska vs. West Virginia

Idaho Potato Bowl (Mountain West vs. BYU/Liberty/MAC)
Projection: Nevada vs. Toledo

Independence Bowl (Army vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Army vs. Arizona State

LendingTree Bowl (MAC/C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Western Michigan vs. Georgia Southern

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

Los Angeles Bowl (Pac-12 vs. Mountain West)
Projection: Utah vs. Boise State

Military Bowl (ACC vs. AAC)
Projection: Wake Forest vs. Navy

**Montgomery Bowl (Group of 5, Liberty or BYU)
Projection: Liberty vs. UAB

Music City Bowl (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Purdue vs. Tennessee

Myrtle Beach Bowl (C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Marshall vs. Coastal Carolina

New Mexico Bowl (Mountain West vs. C-USA/ BYU/Liberty/MAC)
Projection: San Jose State vs. Kent State

New Orleans Bowl (C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Charlotte vs. Louisiana

Outback Bowl (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Northwestern vs. Kentucky

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

Sun Bowl (ACC vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Boston College vs. Colorado

Texas Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC)
Projection: Kansas State vs. LSU

Bowls that have been canceled this year:
•Bahamas Bowl
•Fenway Bowl
•Hawaii Bowl
•Holiday Bowl
•Las Vegas Bowl (not official, but Stadium is reporting it won’t be played)
•Redbox Bowl
•Quick Lane Bowl

Teams in bold have already officially accepted bid.

*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 either the Cotton, Fiesta or Peach Bowl.

**Replacing Fenway Bowl for this season only.