College football bowl projections: Ohio State gets small but key College Football Playoff boost

This was a weekend of almosts.  Ohio State almost loss at Penn State, which would have turned the College Football Playoff projections on their head.  Before that, Clemson lost quarterback Trevor Lawrence and almost lost to Syracuse.  That would have also rattled the playoff cage. 

In the end though, all of the teams projected into the College Football Playoff and the New Year's Six bowls won except for Stanford, which lost at Notre Dame. The Cardinal remain projected to the Fiesta Bowl, but their margin for error is now pretty small, especially with games left at Arizona State and Washington.  Even though the Pac-12 is not thought of as quite on par with the SEC or Big Ten, it is Stanford's strength of schedule that has it still projected into the New Year's Six.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame has to be considered a serious playoff contender.  The Irish do not have any more teams in the current AP Top 25 on their schedule, although we will see if next week's opponent, Virginia Tech, reappears in Sunday's rankings release. USC could also eventually creep into the rankings.  In any event, Notre Dame figures to be favored in every game the rest of the way; however, heir strength of schedule may come into question at the end.  Stanford and Michigan, the two ranked teams Notre Dame has faced so far, still have some difficult games left.  The Hokies will likely finish the season without their starting quarterback, and the Trojans are still finding their way with a freshman signal caller. 

In a battle over uniform color, I flipped Ohio State and Clemson in the playoff projections.  The Buckeyes are now projected to be the No. 2 seed, while the Tigers are No. 3.  That is also about strength of schedule.  As noted above, the ACC has taken some hits this season, and while the Big Ten has as well, that has mostly been in the West. Ohio State still has a couple of difficult games left in league play, and the Buckeyes have already won at Penn State and against TCU in Dallas.

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) Oklahoma

Dec. 29

Orange Bowl
Miami

4/8 p.m.
ESPN

Semifinal

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson

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. West Virginia

Jan. 1

Rose
Pasadena, Calif.

5 p.m.
ESPN

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Penn State vs. Washington

Jan. 1

Fiesta
Glendale, Ariz.

1 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Stanford vs. UCF

Dec. 29

Peach
Atlanta

Noon
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

LSU vs. Notre Dame

Starting next week, teams can begin locking up bowl eligibility. Nine teams are currently sitting at 5-0, including four from the SEC.  Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma can each become bowl eligible with wins next week.

Several games were canceled as the result of Hurricane Florence two weeks ago.  So far, none of those games have been reschedule or replaced.  However, two games were also canceled in Week 1 due to storms in the Midwest.  Akron at Nebraska and South Dakota State at Iowa State were canceled, and that could be of importance to the Zips and Cyclones as they look to become bowl eligible. 

Akron has yet to replace the game on its schedule, but Nebraska and Iowa State have new games.  The Cornhuskers will take on Bethune-Cookman on Oc. 27, while the Cyclones will host Incarnate Word on Dec. 1.  Because of that latter game, ISU now joins the bowl projections.  The Cyclones had been projected to finish 5-6 before that.

It still looks like we will need all of the bowl eligible teams we can get.  We need 78 of the 128 FBS teams to get to six wins in order to fill all of the bowls.  That seems unlikely, but you never know.  The number of projected 5-7 teams needed to fill the bowls is down to two this week after a season-high of five last week.  Northwestern and Wake Forest are the fill-in teams.

Check out the rest of Jerry Palm's college football bowl projections after Week 5.

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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