College football bowl projections: Alabama-LSU an elimination game or College Football Playoff preview?

With the top five teams in the AP Top 25 rankings essentially off this week, it was hard to find competitive games on the Week 10 slate, but there were still a couple that could have impacted the bowl projections. But even those only meant so much to the overall scheme of things.

Georgia and Florida gave us exactly the kind of hard-fought battle we expected from teams of this caliber. The Bulldogs hung on for a 24-17 win and took control of the SEC East. Georgia would have to lose twice now to open the door up for the Gators again. The Bulldogs still have two tough cross-division games at Auburn and at home with Texas A&M.  Both teams still have to face Missouri as well. In fact, the only other team besides Georgia that can win the division simply by winning out is Missouri, and the Tigers may not even be eligible for the SEC title game.  The NCAA is dragging its feet (surprise!) on ruling on Missouri's appeal of its bowl ban for this season.

Georgia holds on to its spot in the Sugar Bowl projection, where it is expected it will meet Oklahoma. Despite holding one loss, the Sooners would be there by virtue of defeating Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game. The Bears got a scare from West Virginia on Thursday night but held on to win 17-14 and remain undefeated on the season. They are still projected for the Cotton Bowl, where they will face the highest-rated Group of Five conference champion, which is projected to be Memphis. The Tigers knocked off the last of the Group of Five unbeaten on Saturday night, handing SMU its first loss of the season in a 54-48 shootout. The other previously undefeated Group of Five team was Appalachian State, but the Mountaineers fell to Georgia State at home on Thursday night.

Despite its second loss, Florida is still projected into the Orange Bowl against Wake Forest. That would give the SEC four representatives combined in the College Football Playoff and New Year's Six.

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) Alabama vs. (4) LSU

Dec. 28

Fiesta Bowl
Glendale, Ariz.

Semifinal

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson

We were mostly treading water this week because we are all still waiting with bated breath for the Alabama-LSU game next week.  That game will almost certainly decide the SEC West and possibly determine which of those teams makes the College Football Playoff.

Of course, I am projecting both will get in, based on an Alabama victory. The chances for both getting in are not as good if LSU wins.  Alabama's strength of schedule could be a problem as an 11-1 playoff candidate. LSU had a good nonconference opponent in Texas and a good cross-division game with Florida. Alabama has none of that.  The Crimson Tide are much more likely to get aced out by a 12-1 champion from another league like the Big 12 or Pac-12, or possibly even by an 11-1 Penn State or Ohio State. That could happen to LSU also, but the Tigers resume is better than that of Alabama.

New Year's Six bowl games

Date Bowl / Location Matchup Prediction

Jan. 1

Sugar
New Orleans

SEC vs. Big 12

Georgia vs. Oklahoma

Jan. 1

Rose
Pasadena, Calif.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Penn State vs. Oregon

Dec. 30

Orange
Miami Gardens, Fla.

ACC vs. SEC/B1G/ND

Wake Forest vs. Florida

Dec. 28

Cotton
Arlington, Tex.

At-large vs. At-large

Memphis vs. Baylor

Oregon and Utah both stayed on course for a meeting in the Pac-12 Championship Game.  The Ducks destroyed USC in the Coliseum, 56-24, and the Utes won at Washington, 33-28.  Those results broke the tie in the Pac-12 South, so Utah is now in front by itself.  That is important because the Utes' only loss came at USC, so the Trojans own the tiebreaker.  Oregon's closest competitor is its rival Oregon State, which is two games back.

There are still more teams projected to be bowl eligible than needed.  I am expecting 79 teams to be eligible for 78 spots.  I have no room for Buffalo this week.

Click here to see Jerry Palm's complete bowl projections after Week 10.

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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