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Clemson finally went down. The Tigers lost to Notre Dame 47-40 in double overtime on Saturday night with the Fighting Irish handing Clemson its first loss in the regular season since 2017. To say the least, that is going to have an impact on this week's College Football Playoff and bowl projections.

The Tigers were playing shorthanded, most notably without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Clemson was also missing some key players on defense at Notre Dame. The CFP Selection Committee cannot simply assume Clemson would have won or even played better at full strength.

Losses are losses.

However, the committee that does these bowl projections (me and my friend coffee) -- and remember, these are end-of-season projections -- can still predict what will happen from this point forward. And that prediction is that Clemson will ultimately emerge as the ACC champion in a rematch with Notre Dame, earning itself a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Since I am also predicting there will be three undefeated teams from Power Five conferences eligible for the playoff, that means Notre Dame still projects on the outside of the four-team field.

Alabama now projects as the overall No. 1 seed, closely followed by expected Big Ten champion Ohio State. Clemson will slot into the third seed, creating a rematch of last season's semifinal with Ohio State, this time in the Rose Bowl.

The Crimson Tide are projected to face No. 4 seed and expected undefeated Pac-12 champion Oregon in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. However, if either the Big Ten or Pac-12 should fail to produce an undefeated team, the Irish would be elevated into the playoff.

College Football Playoff

Date Game / Loc. Matchup Prediction

Jan. 11

National Championship

Title game Semifinal winners

Jan. 1

Rose Bowl
Pasadena, Calif.


(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson

Jan. 1

Sugar Bowl
New Orleans


(1) Alabama vs. (4) Oregon

There is a little bit of shuffling in the New Year's Six games as well. Florida's 44-28 win over Georgia means it gets switched in the bowl projections. The Gators are now slotted into the Orange Bowl where the they are expected to face the Irish. The Bulldogs move over to the Cotton Bowl to take on projected Big 12 champion Oklahoma State.

New Year's Six bowl games

Date Bowl / Location Matchup Prediction

Jan. 2


ACC/ND vs. SEC/Big Ten

Notre Dame vs. Florida

Jan. 2

Glendale, Ariz.

At-large vs. At-large

USC vs. Wisconsin

Jan. 1


At-large vs. At-large

Miami (FL) vs. Cincinnati

Dec. 30

Arlington, Tex.

At-large vs. At-large

Oklahoma State vs. Georgia

What to make of BYU or Liberty? Those two teams picked up their best wins of the season so far this past weekend. The Cougars went to Boise State and demolished the Broncos on the Smurf Turf, 51-17.  Liberty got a last-second field goal to win at Virginia Tech, 38-35.

The problem for each team when it comes to landing a New Year's Six game is that, as independents, neither BYU nor Liberty can count on automatic entry. They have to end up ranked among the top six potential at-large teams. However, I do not see where either team will be perceived to have played a strong enough schedule to merit consideration for one of those games.

The Pac-12 announced this week that it is not waiving its own requirement that teams must finish with a winning percentage of at least .500 to be eligible for a bowl game. Previously, the NCAA did away with bowl eligibility requirements for this season, making every team immediately bowl eligible. Pac-12 teams will still have to earn it the old-fashioned way, though.

Check out Jerry Palm's complete 2020 bowl projections.