My projection of the four teams for the College Football Playoff and the four other New Year's bowls.
The top four teams, as ranked by the 12-person selection committee, will be placed in the Orange and Cotton Bowls and meet on Dec. 31. The winners will meet on Jan. 11 in Glendale, Ariz. for the national title.
College Football Playoff
Orange: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
Cotton: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Michigan State
Ohio State was the unanimous No. 1 choice in the preseason AP poll. In 65 years of the preseason poll, that had never happened before. Any time that many people agree on one thing, it’s usually a good idea to go another way.
The Buckeyes’ title hopes are toast after a 17-14 home loss to Michigan State on Saturday. The Spartans (10-1), on the other hand, are wins over Penn State and Iowa (in the Big Ten title game) away from securing a playoff spot.
The Spartans’ decision to play Oregon (8-3), Air Force (8-3), Western Michigan (6-5) and Central Michigan (6-5) outside the Big Ten trumps any other contender’s schedule.
Both Oklahoma (Oklahoma State) and Notre Dame (Stanford) have tough road games to claim the last playoff spot. Injuries are going to wind up costing the Fighting Irish.
New Year’s bowls
Sugar: Florida (SEC) vs. Baylor (Big 12)
Rose: Iowa (Big Ten) vs. Stanford (Pac-12)
Fiesta: Ohio State (at large) vs. Houston (Group of 5)
Peach: Florida State (at large) vs. Notre Dame (at large)
Houston’s loss to Connecticut doesn’t really change the equation in American Athletic Conference race. The Cougars (10-1) host Navy (9-1) on Saturday. The winner has the inside track at the guaranteed “Group of 5” spot.
The Sugar and Rose bowls are “contract” bowls this year. That means only the SEC and Big 12 can play in the Sugar and only the Big Ten and Pac-12 can play in the Rose. Those four teams will still be placed into those games based on the CFP selection committee rankings.
So Florida could lose to Florida State and still land in the Sugar, per the SEC’s contract.
And note the long fall for the Buckeyes.