Alabama remains the projected No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff, but it figures to be without Heisman Trophy candidate Tua Tagovailoa for its game with Arkansas next week. Tagovailoa suffered a high-ankle sprain in the first half of the Crimson Tide's 35-13 win over Tennessee Saturday night and did not return. Alabama is off the week after the Arkansas game but faces LSU on Nov. 9. Bama will need Tagovailoa if it hopes to win that game, but for now, it maintains the top spot in our bowl projections with LSU not in the top four and instead sitting among the New Year's Six teams.
Remember that big clash between undefeated top-10 teams we were looking forward to in Columbus, Ohio, next week? You can forget that. Wisconsin will show up at Ohio State fresh off a 24-23 loss to Illinois, which is now the biggest upset of the season. The Illini got a 39-yard field goal from James McCourt as time expired to knock off the Badgers. That single play marked the first time Wisconsin has trailed this season. The Badgers were a 31-point favorite over Illinois.
That loss by Wisconsin has caused a shakeup in the New Year's Six bowl projections as well. Wisconsin is now out altogether. Penn State, a 28-21 winner over Michigan on Saturday night, is now projected to be the Big Ten's representative in the Rose Bowl, squaring off against Oregon. The Ducks took full control of the Pac-12 North with a 35-31 come-from-behind win at Washington. Oregon now has a two-game lead over Oregon State (!) and is at least three games up on everyone else.
2020 College Football Playoff
|Date||Game / Loc.||Matchup||Prediction|
|Title game|| Semifinal winners|
(1) Alabama vs. (4) Ohio State
(2) Clemson vs. (3) Oklahoma
We were seconds away from another stunning upset on Saturday, but (Cameron) Dicker the kicker nailed a 33-yard field goal on the final play to give Texas a 50-48 win over Kansas. The Jayhawks are still looking for their first road conference win since 2008, when they won at Iowa State. However, that result is not why Texas has been dropped from the New Year's Six bowl projections.
It was Baylor's 45-27 win at Oklahoma State that convinced me the Bears were good enough to become the second-highest rated team in the Big 12 this season. Baylor replaces Texas in the Sugar Bowl projection, and it is set to face LSU from the SEC.
There was another late night upset that shuffled things in the New Year's Six. Boise State suffered its first loss of the season, 28-25 at BYU. Each team was playing backup quarterbacks due to injuries to the starters. As such, Boise dropped out of the Cotton Bowl projection as the highest-rated Group of Five team at season's end. It was replaced by Memphis, which throttled Tulane 47-17 on Saturday.
Selection committee bowl games
|Date||Bowl / Location||Matchup||Prediction|
SEC vs. Big 12
| LSU vs. Baylor|
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
|Penn State vs. Oregon|
ACC vs. SEC/B1G/ND
|Virginia vs. Notre Dame|
At-large vs. At-large
|Memphis vs. Georgia|
That projection assumes Memphis can beat SMU, which nobody has done to this point. The Mustangs ran their record to 7-0 with a 45-21 win over Temple. SMU visits Memphis on Nov. 2 to likely decide the AAC West and potentially a New Year's Six berth.
For the third week in a row, the number of projected bowl teams is exactly the number that is needed, which is 78. If there are not enough eligible teams and a 5-7 team is needed to fill a bowl, APR is used to determine which team gets a spot. The current APR leaders among potential 5-7 teams are names that will not likely surprise you: Northwestern, Stanford and Cal.