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 Dec. 31 (yes, they are really playing on New Year’s Eve). The winners will meet on Jan. 11 in Glendale, Ariz. for the national title.
College Football Playoff
Orange: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Michigan State.
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Cotton: No. 2 TCU vs. No. 3 Auburn.
Two Big Ten schools, really? Yes.
If Michigan State beats Oregon at home on Saturday and beats everybody else on its schedule but Ohio State, it would be 11-1 and in a better position — with potentially a better resume — than either a one-loss ACC or Pac-12 champion.
Ohio State, which goes to Virginia Tech on Monday night, has yet to play, and both TCU and Auburn looked a little shaky but were playing formidable opponents.
New Year’s bowls
Sugar: Alabama (SEC) vs. Baylor (Big 12).
Rose: Wisconsin (Big Ten) vs. Oregon (Pac-12).
Fiesta: UCLA (at-large) vs. Boise State (Group of 5).
Peach: Florida State (ACC) vs. Arkansas (at-large).
This is a different set up from last year. The Sugar and Rose bowls, which were playoff games last year, are “contract” bowls this year (or in years when they are not playoff sites). The SEC and Big 12 are contracted to play in the Sugar. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are contracted to play in the Rose. The ACC or “Group of 5” representative can’t play in either game. The CFP selection committee will still place the teams in those games based on the rankings.
Also, the highest-rated team from the “Group of 5” is guaranteed one spot. Last year, that was Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos beat Washington, the only Power 5 school on their schedule, and are in control of their own path again.