Bowl projections: Change comes quickly as Clemson joins College Football Playoff

"Don't overreact to Week 1."  I have been saying that for years.  You can't get too caught up in style points this early in the season.  Get the win you are supposed to get.  Week 1 can be sloppy, and one week is not a trend.

There are exceptions, though.  If a team is sloppy and loses a game it shouldn't have, then you might need to reevaluate them.  Also, if a team has a significant injury, then it may be time to jump on the panic button.  I'm thinking of you, Florida State.

The Seminoles lost starting quarterback Deondre Francois for the season with a knee injury in its 24-7 loss to Alabama.  He will be replaced by freshman James Blackman, who took three snaps in the game against the Crimson Tide and did not throw a pass.  Blackman is a different kind of player and not built to be as durable as Francois: He is four inches taller but 20 pounds lighter.

Now, Blackman is being thrown to the wolves.  Fortunately, he can get his feet wet against Louisiana-Monroe, but the game after that is Miami.  FSU also hosts Louisville later and will travel to Clemson and Florida.  It may be too much to expect Blackman to lead the Seminoles to an unblemished record against that schedule, but that is what is likely required if they are still to make the College Football Playoff.  Our SportsLine experts now project Florida State to finish third in the division and fifth in the conference.  I am not quite that pessimistic, but I have dropped FSU from the College Football Playoff projection.

Clemson, the defending national champion, is now the favorite in the ACC. It takes over that fourth playoff spot for now.  The Tigers are also breaking in a new quarterback after Deshaun Watson moved on to the NFL.  They will get a good test this week at home from Auburn.

2018 College Football Playoff

Date Game / Loc. Time / TV Matchup Prediction

Jan. 8

National Championship
Atlanta

8 p.m.
ESPN

Title game Semifinal winners

Jan. 1

Rose Bowl
Pasadena, Calif.

5 p.m.
ESPN

Semifinal

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) USC

Jan. 1

Sugar Bowl
New Orleans

8:45 p.m.
ESPN

Semifinal

(1) Alabama vs. (4) Clemson

Selection committee bowl games

Date Game / Loc. Time / TV Matchup Prediction

Jan. 1

Peach
Atlanta

12:30 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Florida vs. South Florida

Dec. 30

Fiesta
Glendale, Ariz.

4 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Washington vs. Wisconsin

Dec. 30

Orange
Miami

8 p.m.
ESPN

ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND

Miami vs Penn State

Dec. 29

Cotton
Arlington, Texas

8:30 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Oklahoma State vs. LSU

I haven't pushed the panic button with Texas A&M yet despite the loss of QB Nick Starkel to a foot injury and the fact that the injury was the catalyst of that all-time Aggie collapse at UCLA.  Part of the reason for not jumping the gun is that I wasn't overly optimistic for the Aggies at the start of this season and part of that is because Starkel's status going forward has yet to be been determined.

Otherwise, there are not too many changes to the bowl projections this week.  Texas was downgraded some after losing at home to Maryland, but teams like Louisville that struggled to win games in which they were heavily favored will have to struggle for more than one week in a row before it is time to question them.

I am hearing from a lot of Michigan fans complaining that I am disrespecting the Wolverines by projecting them to the Holiday Bowl instead of something like the Citrus or Outback.  (Others complain that I do not have them winning the Super Bowl, but this explanation is not for them.)  With the new bowl agreements three years ago, Big Ten bowl pairings outside of the CFP and New Year's Six games are no longer based primarily on merit.  Instead, factors like how often and how recently a team has been to a particular game -- or even a state or region -- plays as big a role, if not a bigger one.

Michigan has been to Florida bowl games the last two seasons.  If the Wolverines are not in the CFP or a New Year's Six game, it is very unlikely they will be sent to Florida again, regardless of their record or conference standing.

I am currently projecting there to be 75 bowl-eligible teams, which is three short of what is needed to fill 39 bowl games.  Last year, there were 77 eligible teams, allowing three 5-7 teams to play in bowl games.  There is one fewer bowl this year, so I have three 5-7 teams in the current projection.  Those teams are Air Force, Indiana and Michigan State.

Click here for my entire slate of updated bowl projections after Week 1.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Jerry Palm started writing about sports on the Internet right after Al Gore invented it. He was the first to bring RPI out in the open and is one of the pioneers of predicting the March Madness bracket.... Full Bio

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