It isn't easy being king. Georgia is taking everybody's best shot and Missouri's was almost good enough on Saturday. The Bulldogs rallied with two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat the Tigers and stay at the No. 1 spot in this week's College Football Playoff projection.
Earlier in the day, projected No. 3 Alabama saw reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young injured in the first half at Arkansas. Backup quarterback Jalen Milroe came off the bench to lead the Crimson Tide to a big win. Clemson also held on to its projected No. 4 seed after a 30-20 win over NC State. The Wolfpack are still projected to the ACC spot in the Orange Bowl. Ohio State was the only team in our CFP projection to have an easy time of things. Rutgers was no match for the expected No. 2 seed Buckeyes in a 49-10 defeat.
College Football Playoff
|Date||Game / Loc.||Matchup||Prediction|
|Title game|| Semifinal winners|
Where the wheels seemed to come off Saturday was for the Sooner Schooner. Oklahoma gave up 41 first-half points in a 55-24 loss at TCU. The Sooners have fallen out of the New Year's Six bowl projections entirely and been replaced by expected Big 12 champion Oklahoma State. The Cowboys picked up a big win at Baylor and now appear to be the favorite in the conference race.
The Pac-12 race for the Rose Bowl, or possibly the CFP, heats up in the next few weeks. Favorite Utah is at undefeated UCLA next Saturday; it turns around and hosts USC the following week. The Trojans face a tough Washington State team at home in advance of that battle with the Utes. The Bruins have a week off after the Utah game to prepare for a trip to Oregon. The only matchup among those four teams that is not being played in the regular season is USC vs. Oregon.
If one of those four emerges undefeated and earns a spot in the CFP, it is possible that two of the others could play in New Year's Six games.
New Year's Six bowl games
|Date||Bowl / Location||Matchup||Prediction|
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
|Michigan vs. Utah|
at-large vs. at-large
|Oregon vs. Coastal Carolina|
SEC vs. Big 12
|Tennessee vs. Oklahoma State|
ACC vs. SEC/B1G/ND
|NC State vs. Penn State|
There are still four teams with sub-.500 records in this week's bowl projections, but only three of them are 5-7. Army West Point is still projected finish 5-6 and receive a bowl placement despite a loss to Georgia State. The Black Knights are actually projected to finish 6-6 overall, but with two wins over FCS opponents, only one of those will ultimately count toward bowl eligibility.
Some questions came in this week about whether James Madison could become bowl eligible if there are not enough teams to fill slots. While there is a relatively new provision for a team transitioning to FBS to go to a bowl -- if it would have been eligible otherwise and if there is an opening -- that only applies to teams in the final year of their transition to FBS. For James Madison, that will be next season.