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 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Clemson
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Cotton: No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 3 LSU
The toughest work is still ahead of the Buckeyes and they haven’t really done anything the easy way yet. The end of the schedule sets up for them to keep the No. 1 spot as long they keep winning.
Baylor keeps plowing through the Big 12, and will likely win some votes in the polls from the AP and USA Today. The committee is not going to be crazy about the Bears’ strength of schedule, though.
New Year’s bowls
Rose: Iowa (Big Ten) vs. Utah (Pac-12)
Sugar: Alabama (SEC) vs. TCU (Big XII)
Fiesta: Michigan State (Big Ten) vs. Houston (Group of 5)
Peach: Florida State (at large) vs. Notre Dame (at large)
Some “play-in” games to keep an eye on down the road: Notre Dame at Stanford and Florida State at Florida, both on Nov. 28.
Don’t know what the potential tiebreaker for the Rose Bowl between what could be 11-1 Michigan State and 12-1 Iowa (both with losses to Ohio State). Used to be the Big Ten team with the longer drought got to go to the Rose Bowl.
Season-long reminder: The Sugar and Rose bowls, which were playoff games last year, are “contract” bowls this year. The SEC and Big 12 are the only conferences that can play in the Sugar and the Rose is only open to Big Ten and Pac-12 teams. Those four teams will still be placed into those games based on the CFP selection committee rankings.
Also, the highest-rated champion from the “Group of 5” conferences is guaranteed one spot. The American winner (Memphis, Houston, Temple) will have a better resume than Toledo (MAC).