Note: These projections have been updated to reflect the release of the initial College Football Playoff rankings.
With the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night, here are my updated bowl projections based on (A) those rankings and (B) my predictions on how the season will play out.
First the obvious: Like the rest of the free world, I’m projecting Alabama and Ohio State to win out and grab two of the four playoff spots.
A third playoff berth will go to the ACC Championship Game winner between Clemson and Notre Dame (I’m projecting the Tigers).
The fourth playoff spot is the most difficult to project, but based on the committee’s initial rankings, I like Texas A&M to earn the fourth seed. And, yes, I know that would mean a rematch in the College Football Playoff semifinals against Alabama.
Why Texas A&M at No. 4? The Aggies are currently No. 5, and as long as Alabama and Ohio State win out, there’s no one behind Texas A&M that should be able to jump them. Current No. 6 Florida and No. 8 Northwestern would be eliminated by losses to Alabama and Ohio State, respectively. No. 9 Georgia and No. 10 Miami don’t have strong enough finishing schedules to jump A&M’s win over Florida.
And No. 7 Cincinnati? The undefeated Bearcats close against 1-6 Temple and then probably consecutive games against Tulsa in the regular season finale and AAC title game. That is not enough to overtake the Aggies, who close with LSU, current No. 22 Auburn and Tennessee. I don’t anticipate a two-loss Big 12 champion (Iowa State, Oklahoma or Texas) being able to catch the Aggies either.
Other than my playoff projections, my New Year’s 6 games consist of my projected Pac-12 champion Oregon, currently No. 15, against projected Big Ten runner-up Northwestern in the Fiesta Bowl; projected Big 12 champion Iowa State against at-large Miami in the Cotton Bowl; projected ACC runner-up Notre Dame (that still sounds weird) against projected SEC runner-up Florida in the Orange Bowl and at-large Georgia against Group of 5 representative Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl.
I don’t project BYU finishing high enough for a New Year’s 6 at-large bid, dropping the Cougars into an ESPN-owned bowl. I’ll project the New Mexico Bowl, which will be played in Frisco, Texas this year — don’t ask, it’s 2020.
Here are this week’s updated bowl projections with Selection Sunday just four weeks away.
College Football Playoff
Championship – Jan. 10 (CFP semifinal winners)
Projection: Alabama vs. Ohio State
Sugar Bowl – Jan. 1 (CFP semifinal)
Projection: Alabama (No. 1 seed) vs. Texas A&M (No. 4 seed)
Rose Bowl – Jan. 1 (CFP semifinal)
Projection: Clemson (No. 2 seed) vs. Ohio State (No. 3 seed)
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: Oregon vs. Northwestern
Peach Bowl – Jan. 1 (at-large vs. at-large)
Projection: Georgia vs. Cincinnati*
Cotton Bowl – Dec. 30 (at-large vs. at-large)
Projection: Iowa State vs. Miami
Gator Bowl – Jan. 2 (ACC vs. SEC)
Projection: NC State vs. LSU
Outback Bowl – Jan. 2 (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Wisconsin vs. Ole Miss
Birmingham Bowl – Jan. 1 (AAC vs. SEC)
Projection: Tulsa vs. Tennessee
Citrus Bowl – Jan. 1 (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Indiana vs. Auburn
Arizona Bowl – Dec. 31 (MAC vs. Mountain West)
Projection: Kent State vs. Fresno State
Armed Forces Bowl – Dec. 31 (AAC vs. Big 12)
Projection: Houston vs. TCU
Liberty Bowl – Dec. 31 (Big 12 vs. SEC)
Projection: West Virginia vs. Mississippi State
Sun Bowl – Dec. 31 (ACC vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Virginia vs. Washington
Texas Bowl – Dec. 31 (Big 12 vs. SEC)
Projection: Texas vs. Arkansas
Duke’s Mayo Bowl – Dec. 30 (ACC vs. Big Ten)
Projection: Boston College vs. Michigan
Los Angeles Bowl – Dec. 30 (Pac-12 vs. Mountain West)
Projection: Colorado vs. Boise State
Music City Bowl – Dec. 30 (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Iowa vs. Missouri
Alamo Bowl – Dec. 29 (Big 12 vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Oklahoma vs. USC
Cheez-It Bowl – Dec. 29 (ACC vs. Big 12)
Projection: UNC vs. Oklahoma State
Pinstripe Bowl – Dec. 29 (ACC vs. Big Ten)
Projection: Pitt vs. Maryland
Military Bowl – Dec. 28 (ACC vs. AAC)
Projection: Wake Forest vs. Navy
Cure Bowl – Dec. 26 (C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Marshall vs. Coastal Carolina
First Responder Bowl – Dec. 26 (ACC vs. AAC)
Projection: Virginia Tech vs. UCF
Gasparilla Bowl – Dec. 26 (ACC vs. SEC)
Projection: Louisville vs. Kentucky
Guaranteed Rate Bowl – Dec. 26 (Big Ten vs. Big 12)
Projection: Purdue vs. Kansas State
Independence Bowl – Dec. 26 (Army vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Army vs. UCLA
LendingTree Bowl – Dec. 26 (MAC/C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Western Michigan vs. South Alabama
Camellia Bowl – Dec. 25 (MAC vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Buffalo vs. Louisiana
New Mexico Bowl – Dec. 24 (Mountain West vs. C-USA/BYU/MAC)
Projection: San Jose State vs. BYU
**Montgomery Bowl – Dec. 23 (Group of 5)
Projection: Appalachian State vs. UAB
New Orleans Bowl – Dec. 23 (C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Louisiana Tech vs. Troy
Boca Raton Bowl – Dec. 22 (AAC vs. C-USA/BYU/MAC)
Projection: Memphis vs. FAU
Idaho Potato Bowl – Dec. 22 (Mountain West vs. BYU/MAC)
Projection: Nevada vs. Toledo
Myrtle Beach Bowl – Dec. 21 (C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Charlotte vs. Georgia Southern
Frisco Bowl – Dec. 19 (AAC vs. C-USA)
Projection: SMU vs. UTSA
Bowls that have been canceled this year:
•Las Vegas Bowl (not official, but Stadium is reporting it won’t be played)
•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.