Bowl projections: College Football Playoff a tough call, all 2017 games predicted

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This season gave us one upset after another. No major conference team finished undefeated for the first time in the College Football Playoff era, and there is a distinct possibility that we will have our first two-loss participant.

Selection Sunday is now mere hours away (Sunday at noon ET), so here is a look at the teams I expect to make the 2017 College Football Playoff.

1. Clemson (12-1): The Tigers had a hiccup at Syracuse in the middle of the season but have otherwise looked the part of the defending national champion. They have wins over Auburn and Miami, the latter in dominant fashion in the ACC championship game on Saturday. Eight of Clemson's 12 wins have come over teams with at least seven wins.

2. Oklahoma (12-1): The Sooners have been on a roll, especially offensively, at the end of this season. Led by a likely Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma finished off a 12-1 season with a second win over TCU.  Neither of those games were close, nor was the Sooners' win at Ohio State in September. The committee has frowned upon Oklahoma's defense, but when your offense is this good, you don't need a great defense. There is more than one way to win.

3. Georgia (12-1): The Bulldogs avenged their only loss of the season when they beat Auburn for the SEC championship on Saturday afternoon.  Georgia also has a win at Notre Dame and a blowout of Mississippi State among a total of seven wins against teams above .500.

4. Alabama (11-1): The committee noted that the Crimson Tide were a clear choice over the Buckeyes. Ohio State (11-2): Here is where the committee may debate for hours tonight between OSU and Alabama for the fourth spot. The committee showed last year that it has no qualms about putting a team in the playoff that did not play for its conference title, let alone win it. That team was Ohio State, and if Alabama had Ohio State's 2016 resume (3-1 vs the top 10), this would not be a debate. However, it is Ohio State again with the top 10 wins, this time over Penn State and Wisconsin. Even with an extra loss, a 31-point eyesore at Iowa, the better wins and the conference championship should put the Buckeyes in the playoffs ahead of the Crimson Tide.

Let's take a look at how the playoff shapes up along with the rest of the New Year's Six games.

Follow live as we cover every live bowl game announcement throughout the day on Sunday.  

2018 College Football Playoff

DATEGAME / LOC.TIME / TVMATCHUPPREDICTION

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) Oklahoma vs. (3) Georgia

Jan. 1

Sugar Bowl
New Orleans

8:45 p.m.
ESPN

Semifinal

(1) Clemson vs. (4) Alabama

Selection committee bowl games

DATEGAME / LOC.TIME / TVMATCHUPPREDICTION

Jan. 1

Peach
Atlanta

12:30 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

UCF vs. Auburn

Dec. 30

Fiesta
Glendale, Ariz.

4 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Penn State vs. Washington

Dec. 30

Orange
Miami

8 p.m.
ESPN

ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND

Miami vs. Wisconsin

Dec. 29

Cotton
Arlington, Texas

8:30 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Ohio State vs. USC

If the committee were to decide on Alabama for the fourth playoff spot, the ACC and Big Ten bowl projections could be impacted.  The Orange Bowl would get the higher rated of Wisconsin, Penn State or Auburn.  If a Big Ten team is in the Orange Bowl, the Big Ten's spot in the Citrus Bowl goes to the ACC, causing a chain reaction in both leagues.

TCU and Washington will be the teams the committee is deciding upon for the last spot in the New Year's Six games.  TCU is coming off a blowout loss in the Big 12 title game, but two of the Horned Frogs' three losses are to Oklahoma.  Washington's losses are worse, and the few good wins it has all came at home, so the guess here is that the Frogs stay ahead of the Huskies. There are domino effects in both the Big 12 and Pac-12 bowl projections if Washington ends up in the New Year's Six instead.

Wins by Florida State and New Mexico State give us 81 eligible teams for the 78 spots in this year's bowl games.  Three teams I am projecting to be left out are Buffalo, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky.

Check out my entire final set of bowl projections ahead of Selection Sunday. 

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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