College football bowl projections: Florida's comeback pushes Gators into New Year's Six fray

It was a relatively easy week for the projected College Football Playoff teams.  All four were favored by at least 17 points, and not surprisingly, none were threatened. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa did not play in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State after reaggravating his injured right knee.  The Crimson Tide probably won't need him against The Citadel this week, which is part of the annual SEC November Sabbatical.  Eight SEC teams will play nonconference games next week, three of which will be against FCS schools.  All eight figure to be heavily favored with the possible exception of Texas A&M, which will play 9-1 UAB.

Kentucky needs a break after suffering a second straight loss.  The Wildcats lost at Tennessee 24-7 and have dropped out of the New Year's Six bowl game projections. UK has been replaced by Florida, which fought off South Carolina on Saturday. The Gators may see this as a mixed blessing. I am projecting them to face UCF in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Knights beat Navy in a closer game than expected, but that is not the bad news. The bad news is that the AAC West division continues to cannibalize itself. Houston lost again, this time to Temple.  The Cougars now have three losses, which is still two fewer than anyone else, but they have dropped into a three-way tie for first in the division with SMU and Tulane.  If Memphis wins out over Houston and SMU and the Cougars beat Tulane, the AAC West could end in a four-way tie.

Northwestern clinched the Big Ten West division and bowl eligibility on the same day.  The Wildcats won 14-10 at Iowa for their sixth win of the season.  That combined Wisconsin's loss at Penn State and Purdue's abject humiliation at Minnesota gave Northwestern a spot in the Big Ten title game.  The Cats will likely face the winner of the Michigan-Ohio State game.

In the Pac-12 South, USC all but dropped out of the race with a loss to Cal at home.  Utah has a half-game lead over Arizona and Arizona State, and it finishes its Pac-12 schedule at Colorado next week.  The Arizona schools still have to play each other but have another game before that first.

2019 College Football Playoff

Date Game / Loc. Time / TV Matchup Prediction

Jan. 7

National Championship
Santa Clara, Calif.

8 p.m.
ESPN

Title game Semifinal winners

Dec. 29

Cotton Bowl
Arlington, Tex.

4/8 p.m.
ESPN

Semifinal

(1) Alabama vs. (4) Michigan

Dec. 29

Orange Bowl
Miami

4/8 p.m.
ESPN

Semifinal

(2) Clemson vs. (3) Notre Dame

Selection committee bowl games

Date Bowl / Loc. Time / TV Matchup Prediction

Jan. 1

Sugar
New Orleans

8:45 p.m.
ESPN

SEC vs. Big 12

Georgia vs. Oklahoma

Jan. 1

Rose
Pasadena, Calif.

5 p.m.
ESPN

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Ohio State vs. Washington State

Jan. 1

Fiesta
Glendale, Ariz.

1 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Florida vs. UCF

Dec. 29

Peach
Atlanta

Noon
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

LSU vs. West Virginia

Click here for for the rest of Jerry Palm's college football bowl projections.  

The number of teams expected to become bowl eligible continues to grow.  I am now projecting all 78 bowl slots to be filled with teams that are 6-6 or better, which would mean three bowl-eligible teams would have nowhere to go.  That number is up to two from last week.  The teams that I am projecting to be bowl eligible but left out are Coastal Carolina, Louisiana-Monroe and Wyoming. The bowl eligibility tracker is now live. We have 64 bowl-eligible teams at the moment.

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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