The big story in college football this weekend had nothing to do with wins and losses, unfortunately. No, it was Alabama losing star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the season with a dislocated hip after he was hit on what was going to be his final series of the game. The Crimson Tide will now turn to Mac Jones, as they did when Tagovailoa was injured earlier in the season.
Prior to finishing the Mississippi State game on Saturday for Alabama, Jones also finished the Tennessee game and led Alabama to a 48-7 win over Arkansas. He will get to start against Western Carolina before getting his big test against Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
There is one example of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee dealing with a similar situation, and it came in the first season. Ohio State lost not one but two quarterbacks on its way to a Big Ten title and the fourth seed in the inaugural CFP. Cardale Jones stepped in for J.T. Barrett in the fourth quarter of the Michigan game and the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin. Barrett started the season for Ohio State after the previous season's starter, Braxton Miller, suffered an injury in fall training camp. Ohio State so thoroughly dominated Wisconsin with Jones under center that the committee had no reason to doubt that the Buckeyes were in good hands for the playoffs, which they eventually won.
That standard will likely be used here as well. There will be no sympathy for Alabama if it loses to Auburn. A 10-2 record these days is not good enough to make the playoff, especially with Bama's schedule. However, if Jones can lead the Crimson Tide to victory at Auburn, would there really be any reason to consider Alabama to be a lesser version of itself? Probably not.
That said, the bowl projections this week now expect Alabama to lose at Auburn and play in the Orange Bowl. Georgia, which defeated the Tigers 21-14 on Saturday, moves in to the SEC spot in the Sugar Bowl.
Alabama's opponent in the Orange Bowl is now projected to be Virginia after Wake Forest was annihilated by Clemson, 52-3. The fact that the Demon Deacons no longer have their best player, wide receiver Sage Surratt, means that they may not be done losing this season. Barring something unforeseen, the ACC will send a four-loss team to that game, and it will be a huge underdog.
Oklahoma's dramatic comeback win at Baylor saved the Sooners' spot in the College Football Playoff projection for now. Oklahoma was down 28-3 before storming back in the second half to win, 34-31. That was the first loss of the season for the Bears. This is the second week in a row a team lost after leading 28-3. Michigan State blew that same lead against Illinois last week.
2020 College Football Playoff
|Date||Game / Loc.||Matchup||Prediction|
|Title game|| Semifinal winners|
(1) LSU vs. (4) Oklahoma
(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson
Minnesota also took its first loss of the season in a 23-19 defeat at Iowa. The Golden Gophers would likely still make the playoffs as a 12-1 Big Ten champion, but that requires beating Wisconsin at home to end the regular season and probably Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. Ohio State and Penn State will play to decide the Big Ten East division title next Saturday. OK, technically, the Nittany Lions cannot clinch the division next week; they would still have to beat Rutgers. Penn State held off Indiana, 34-27, while the Buckeyes destroyed the Scarlet Knights, 56-21.
Oregon also stayed in the playoff hunt as well with a 34-6 win over Arizona. The Ducks clinched a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game with the victory. They join Clemson, Georgia and Miami (Ohio) as teams that have secured spots in their respective conference championship matchups.
Utah also won big in beating UCLA, 49-3. The Utes can clinch the Pac-12 South title with a victory at Arizona and USC loss to UCLA on Saturday. If Utah gets no help from UCLA, the Utes can clinch it themselves the following week by beating Colorado.
New Year's Six bowl games
|Date||Bowl / Location||Matchup||Prediction|
SEC vs. Big 12
| Georgia vs. Baylor|
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
|Wisconsin vs. Oregon|
ACC vs. SEC/B1G/ND
|Virginia vs. Alabama|
At-large vs. At-large
|Memphis vs. Florida|
There is still one too many teams projected to be bowl eligible for the number of games that will be played. This week's projection leaves out Toledo.