Another week of upsets has left us with the possibility that the ACC may not finish with a team in the top 12 of the final College Football Playoff Rankings, a battle among two-loss SEC teams for spots in the New Year's Six and some unfortunate matchups in those games. However, this week's upsets did not touch the projected CFP field.
Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma (barely) and Oregon all won. For now, those are still the teams expected to finish in the top four -- in that order. After that, there was a huge shakeup in the New Year's Six games.
Clemson's offense is still a hot mess, and the Tigers fell for the second time this season. NC State beat the six-time defending ACC champion in overtime and knocked Clemson all the way out of those projections.
College Football Playoff
|Date||Game / Loc.||Matchup||Prediction|
|Title game|| Semifinal winners|
(1) Alabama vs. (4) Oregon
(2) Georgia vs. (3) Oklahoma
There really is no clear favorite in the ACC. Boston College is still undefeated after an overtime win against Missouri while working around a backup quarterback. Wake Forest was impressive at Virginia and is still undefeated, so maybe a case could be made for the Demon Deacons. I am going with Virginia Tech for now, but I no longer expect the ACC to put a team in the final top 12 of the CFP Rankings.
Arkansas' win over Texas A&M has set up the possibility that those two, along with Florida, could all finish 10-2 and battle for a spot in the New Year's Six. The Gators already lost to Alabama, and both the Razorbacks and Aggies are projected to drop their games to the Crimson Tide.
However, Arkansas would get the nod over Florida by virtue of its victories over Texas in nonconference play and Texas A&M. Florida's nonconference schedule is dismal, but it has a shot for a big win against Georgia around Halloween time. FAU may be the best of UF's nonconference foes, and that list includes Florida State.
Iowa State was upset at Baylor, and that has knocked the Cyclones out of the New Year's Six projections. They had been slated for the Big 12 spot in the Sugar Bowl. That is now expected to go to Texas, a 70-35 winner over Texas Tech.
The SEC representative will be the highest-rated team from that league that is not in the playoff, and with that team being Arkansas, it would unfortunately create a rematch of the regular season matchup. That is not something that bowls or the teams involved would prefer, but contracts are contracts and there are no other choices.
We are not done with rematches. Cincinnati goes to the Fiesta Bowl after having appeared in the Peach Bowl last season. The Bearcats' possible opponents are Notre Dame, which they face this Saturday, Iowa or Virginia Tech. In order to get a team in Glendale, Arizona, that can draw some fans, Iowa is the logical choice. However, that leaves the Fighting Irish and Hokies to have a regular season rematch in the Peach Bowl.
The only way to avoid that is to send Virginia Tech out West, but I do not expect that. Rematches are not great but having good matchups and good attendance is more important, so this week's New Year's Six projections have two regular season rematches.
New Year's Six bowl games
|Date||Bowl / Location||Matchup||Prediction|
SEC vs. Big 12
|Arkansas vs. Texas|
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
|Ohio State vs. UCLA|
At-large vs. At-large
|Iowa vs. Cincinnati|
At-large vs. At-large
|Virginia Tech vs. Notre Dame|
Florida and Penn State are expected to be ranked in the top 12 of the CFP Rankings yet left out of the New Year's Six. This week's projections match those two up in what would be a highly-anticipated Outback Bowl. They could have been matched up in the Citrus Bowl instead, but that gets Wisconsin from the Big Ten because of the conference's rules that prevent teams going back to the same bowl too frequently. The Citrus Bowl also gets Texas A&M, which has never played in that game.
There were also a number of unexpected results this week among teams that had been projected to finish either 6-6 or 5-7, leading to a doubling of the number of 5-7 teams in the week's bowl projections. That number is now 10 after being down to five last week. Four of those teams are from the Big Ten.