Bowl projections: LSU bounces Alabama as Oklahoma enters College Football Playoff

The weeding out of potential College Football Playoff candidates has begun, but probably not in the way we expected.  The game we were all eagerly awaiting did not disappoint. No. 2 LSU jumped out to a 20-point halftime lead at No. 3 Alabama, and it looked like the Crimson Tide was toast. Alabama stormed back in the second half however and got to within a touchdown twice in the fourth quarter, but the Tide couldn't get over the hump as the Tigers held on for a 46-41 victory.

LSU now moves up to the top seed in the current CFP projection, replacing Alabama, which drops out altogether.  The Tide are replaced in the projection by Oklahoma, which slots into the fourth spot after surviving Iowa State 42-41 on a failed two-point conversion. The Tigers and Sooners are projected to meet in the Peach Bowl.

There is no change in the Fiesta Bowl projection with second-seed Ohio State against third-seed Clemson. Those teams are currently ranked No. 1 and No. 5 in the CFP Rankings released last Tuesday.

2020 College Football Playoff

Date Game / Loc. Matchup Prediction

Jan. 13

National Championship
New Orleans

Title game Semifinal winners

Dec. 28

Peach Bowl
Atlanta

Semifinal

(1) LSU vs. (4) Oklahoma

Dec. 28

Fiesta Bowl
Glendale, Ariz.

Semifinal

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson

The day started with No. 17 Minnesota upsetting No. 4 Penn State, 31-26, in the biggest game for the Golden Gophers since the 1960s.  Minnesota figures to shoot up the CFP Rankings this week after picking up its first win of any significance this season. And of course, the Gophers are still undefeated and in the hunt for a berth in the College Football Playoff.

As for Penn State, all is not lost, but the road to the playoff just got a lot tougher.  The Nittany Lions would be a playoff team if they win out, which would make them 12-1 and the Big Ten champion. That now means losing at Ohio State is not an option. Good luck with that.

With Oklahoma replacing Alabama in the playoff, there was some other shuffling in the other New Year's Six projections.  The Tide are now projected to the SEC slot in the Sugar Bowl, displacing Georgia to the Orange Bowl against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons' loss on Saturday to Virginia Tech was already built into the projection.

Oklahoma's move into the playoff puts Baylor in the Sugar Bowl instead of the Cotton Bowl.  Florida moves from the Orange Bowl into the Cotton Bowl against the Group of Five representative, which is still projected to be Memphis.

New Year's Six bowl games

Date Bowl / Location Matchup Prediction

Jan. 1

Sugar
New Orleans

SEC vs. Big 12

Alabama vs. Baylor

Jan. 1

Rose
Pasadena, Calif.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Wisconsin vs. Oregon

Dec. 30

Orange
Miami Gardens, Fla.

ACC vs. SEC/B1G/ND

Wake Forest vs. Georgia

Dec. 28

Cotton
Arlington, Tex.

At-large vs. At-large

Memphis vs. Florida

I did some horse trading with a couple of the bowls to try to create better matchups, which is what ESPN sometimes does since it owns so many of these games.  In this case, I have SMU taking the open SEC spot in the Belk Bowl against Virginia Tech instead of filling one of the spots in the AAC lineup.  That leaves an open spot in one of that league's games, which I have given to Western Kentucky.

There are 79 teams projected to be eligible this week for the 78 spots available.  That means I have no place for Central Michigan.

Check out Jerry Palm's complete bowl projections after Week 11.

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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