Bowl projections: College Football Playoff holds, USF ousted from New Year's Six

The rematch of the 2006 BCS Championship Game between Texas and USC on Saturday night had all of the end-of-game drama, if not the elegance, of the first meeting. The Trojans got their revenge in a 27-24 double-overtime thriller. Because of that narrow escape, the projections for the College Football Playoff remain unchanged and USC is still slotted as the No. 3 seed.

Projected No. 1 seed Alabama had no problem with Colorado State and No. 4 seed Oklahoma easily handled Tulane.

The game that we thought would divert our attention from the USC-Texas game turned out to be a dud. Clemson's defense dominated Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville 47-21 to take early control of the ACC. The Tigers are still the projected No. 2 seed.

The one change in the New Year's Six projections is that San Diego State takes over the Group of Five spot from South Florida thanks to a 20-17 victory over Stanford. That win figures to be what separates the Aztecs and Bulls if the CFP Selection Committee has to decide between them. USF doesn't have a team anywhere near the caliber of Stanford on its nonconference schedule.

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) Clemson vs. (3) USC

Jan. 1

Sugar Bowl
New Orleans

8:45 p.m.
ESPN

Semifinal

(1) Alabama vs. (4) Oklahoma

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

Georgia vs. Wisconsin

Dec. 30

Fiesta
Glendale, Ariz.

4 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Washington vs. San Diego State

Dec. 30

Orange
Miami

8 p.m.
ESPN

ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND

Florida State vs. Ohio State

Dec. 29

Cotton
Arlington, Texas

8:30 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Oklahoma State vs. Penn State

This set of projections reflects a little bit of the horse trading that goes on among some of these games, especially the dozen that are owned by ESPN. For example, Texas-San Antonio was moved out of a Conference USA spot to try to find a better opponent for the Road Runners. They are now slotted to fill a hole left by the Big 12 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl and are projected to face Northwestern.

The Big 12 could have trouble filling a few of its six non-New Year's Six bowl contracts. Currently, both Oklahoma schools are projected into New Year's Six games, leaving eight teams for those six spots. I only project three of those eight teams to be bowl eligible, though, and there is no realistic scenario that gets six of them eligible. It's tough to get a lot of six-win or better teams in a league with only 10 teams that plays a full round robin. The current projection of only three is likely a worst-case scenario, however.

The Big Ten is also in an interesting spot with three teams in the projected New Year's Six. Michigan is clearly the top team outside of that group but seems unlikely to go to the Outback Bowl, which is where the Big Ten will find its best opponent outside of the New Year's Six games. The Wolverines have been to Florida two straight seasons, although not to this game.

New Big Ten guidelines might have the league wanting to send Michigan west, but with the gap between the Wolverines and the rest of the league seeming to be large, they might make a third straight trip to Florida after all. I am not projecting that at the moment however. Instead, I have Purdue and its hungry-to-travel fan base there, despite the fact that Michigan will likely ruin the Boilermakers' homecoming next weekend.

The other interesting thing about the Big Ten is that three of the four 5-7 teams needed to fill out the projections come from that league. Indiana, Michigan State and Nebraska are on that list, along with Duke from the ACC.

Click here for Jerry Palm's full slate of bowl projections after Week 3.

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

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories
    CBS Sports Shop