Brett McMurphy’s Penultimate College Football Bowl Projections

The penultimate College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, which gave us an idea of how the final rankings could look on Sunday, barring any upsets among the top three teams.

Ohio State once again remained at No. 1 in Tuesday’s rankings, followed by No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Georgia.

The biggest discussion/debate between now and Sunday afternoon when the playoff pairings are announced will be who ends up at No. 4 if No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 LSU and No. 3 Clemson each win their respective conference titles.

Utah moved up to No. 5 on Tuesday, one spot above No. 6 Oklahoma. The biggest unknown is will a win against No. 7 Baylor be enough for OU to move past Utah, after the Utes defeat No. 13 Oregon? Current No. 4 Georgia would drop with a loss to LSU in the SEC title game.

I don’t think a win over Baylor will be enough for Oklahoma, so I’m sticking with my preseason projection of Utah winning the Pac-12 and earning a berth in the College Football Playoff.

Tuesday’s rankings impacted my Monday projections from 24 hours ago quite a bit — most notably for Wisconsin and Alabama.

At No. 8, Wisconsin should now either wind up in the Rose Bowl or Cotton Bowl after a loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship, with No. 10 Penn State either getting the Rose or Cotton.

As far as Alabama, the Crimson Tide’s streak of College Football Playoff appearances ends at five years. Alabama is now headed to *gasp* a non-New Year’s 6 Bowl for the first time in the playoff’s six-year history.

Here are my notable bowl projection changes from Monday based on Tuesday’s rankings:

Wisconsin (Cotton), Alabama (Outback), Tennessee vs. Indiana (Gator), Kentucky (Belk), Texas (Camping World), Oklahoma State (Texas Bowl), Kansas State (Liberty Bowl), Iowa State (Cheez-It), Washington (Sun) and Arizona State (Holiday)

Sunday, I will release my final bowl projections before the College Football Playoff field and New Year’s 6 bowls are announced.

In my final projections in 2017, I correctly had 77 of the 78 bowl-bound schools. Of those 78 bids, I had 53 schools in the correct bowl, including 15 bowls where I correctly projected both teams.

My final projections in 2018 were even better: I correctly picked all 78 bowl teams and predicted which four teams would be left out. I projected 57 schools in the correct bowl, including 22 bowls where I correctly projected both programs.

Hopefully, I can improve on those numbers in 2019.

On to my penultimate projections:


College Football Playoff

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

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

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

New Year’s 6 Bowls

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

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

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

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

Other Bowls

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

Outback Bowl(Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Minnesota vs. Alabama

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

Holiday Bowl(Big Ten vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Iowa vs. Arizona State

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

Redbox Bowl(Big Ten vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Illinois vs. Cal

Sun Bowl(ACC vs. Pac-12)
Projection: North Carolina vs. Washington

Military Bowl(ACC vs. American)
Projection: Pitt vs. Temple

Arizona Bowl(Mountain West vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: San Diego State vs. Arkansas State

Belk Bowl(ACC vs. SEC)
Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky

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

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

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

Texas Bowl(Big 12 vs. SEC)
Projection: Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M

Pinstripe Bowl(ACC vs. Big Ten)
Projection: Wake Forest vs. Michigan State

Independence Bowl(ACC vs. SEC)
Projection: Miami vs. Florida Atlantic**

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

Quick Lane Bowl(ACC vs. Big Ten)
Projection: Florida State vs. Kent State**

First Responder Bowl(Big 12 vs. C-USA)
Projection: Eastern Michigan** vs. Marshall

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

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

Armed Forces Bowl(Big Ten vs. Mountain West)
Projection: Florida International** vs. Utah State

Birmingham Bowl(American vs. SEC)
Projection: Cincinnati vs. Boston College**

Idaho Potato Bowl(MAC vs. Mountain West)
Projection: Miami, Ohio vs. Nevada

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

Gasparilla Bowl(American vs. C-USA)
Projection: UCF vs. UAB

Frisco Bowl(American vs. Open)
Projection: Tulane vs. Southern Miss**

Boca Raton Bowl(American vs. MAC)
Projection: SMU vs. Central Michigan

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

Camellia Bowl(MAC vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Ohio vs. Georgia State

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

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

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

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 the Cotton Bowl.

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