A couple of College Football Playoff contenders fell to the wayside on Saturday, and in doing so, helped to clinch berths in the playoff for current No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 LSU. Even if the Buckeyes and Tigers wind up 12-1 with losses in their respective conference championship games, the strength of their schedules and dominance over the course of the season will place them ahead of even 12-1 conference champions from the Big 12 or Pac-12.
Ohio State hammered No. 13 Michigan 56-27 in The Big House for the Buckeyes' eighth consecutive win over the Wolverines. Because of the unexpected ease with which Ohio State won, it is now projected to be the overall No. 1 seed and play in the Peach Bowl. That means current No. 2 LSU, which throttled Texas A&M 50-7, is now projected to keep that ranking. As the second seed, LSU would play its semifinal in the Fiesta Bowl.
No. 8 Minnesota lost at home to No.12 Wisconsin, 38-17, giving the Badgers Paul Bunyan's Axe and more importantly, the Big Ten West title. Wisconsin will get a rematch with Ohio State and hope to do better than last time. The Buckeyes ran away from the Badgers 38-7 in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 26.
In the game of the day, No. 13 Auburn beat No. 5 Alabama 48-45 in the Iron Bowl, ending the Crimson Tide's playoff hopes as well. The losses by Alabama and Minnesota mean that there are no scenarios that cause either Ohio State or LSU to miss the playoff.
2020 College Football Playoff
|Date||Game / Loc.||Matchup||Prediction|
|Title game|| Semifinal winners|
(1) Ohio State vs. (4) Oklahoma
(2) LSU vs. (3) Clemson
Current and projected No. 3 Clemson pounded in-state rival South Carolina 38-3 and will face Virginia in the ACC Championship Game. The Cavaliers ended a 15-game losing streak to Virginia Tech with a 39-30 win on Friday to clinch the ACC Coastal. Virginia completed a seven-year stretch where every Coastal team has won the division once. Clemson is projected to win that game and face LSU in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal.
No. 7 Oklahoma finally put up some style points. Not a lot but some. The Sooners beat Bedlam rival and No. 21 Oklahoma State 34-16 to show the CFP Selection Committee that they do not always play close games. Oklahoma will take on No. 9 Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game. Speaking of style points, the Bears beat Kansas 61-6. I am projecting Oklahoma to win the Big 12 and take the fourth spot in the playoff. It would take on Ohio State in the Peach Bowl.
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. Penn State|
At-large vs. At-large
|Memphis vs. Utah|
Baylor is expected to face No. 4 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs wrecked Georgia Tech 52-7 and will face LSU in the SEC Championship Game looking to secure a spot in the playoff. Obviously, my current projection is that they come up short against the Tigers.
No. 6 Utah earned its way into the Pac-12 Championship Game with No. 14 Oregon. The Utes clobbered Colorado, 45-15. The Ducks won the Civil War with Oregon State 24-10 and are projected to beat Utah for the Pac-12 title to earn the league's berth in the Rose Bowl. That loss by the Utes would knock them out of playoff contention, although I maintain that Oklahoma's playoff resume is better even if Utah wins because of Oklahoma's strength of schedule and strength of wins.
I have the Utes projected to the Cotton Bowl to face projected Group of Five representative and AAC champion Memphis. Wisconsin would play in the Rose Bowl following a projected Big Ten title game loss to Ohio State. No. 10 Penn State, which snoozed its way through a 27-6 win over Rutgers, is now expected to play in the Orange Bowl against Virginia.
Auburn at 9-3, despite its win over Alabama, can not be expected to make a New Year's Six bowl. The current projection has Wisconsin and Penn State ahead of both Florida and Alabama this week and even after Wisconsin loses to Ohio State, perhaps even if the Badgers lose badly again. The committee has a history of being kind to championship game losers, and after all, Ohio State does beat everyone badly these days.
Penn State is already ranked ahead of Florida and is expected to still be in the final CFP Rankings because of a better schedule and higher-quality wins. Wisconsin will likely jump both this week after the win over Minnesota. If the committee can get past the name on the front of the uniform and the eye-catching talent, Alabama should drop below Florida. Still, that does not put the Gators in the New Year's Six field. The Crimson Tide will enter Selection Sunday without a win over a team in the rankings in only two attempts.
There are 79 teams bowl-eligible this season, which is one more than is needed to fill all the games. Toledo is projected to be the team left out this year.