On Monday night, I predicted a shake-up in the College Football Playoff rankings that included Oklahoma moving up to #6. The Committee took a conservative approach and simply moved the teams previously ranked between 6 and 10 up one spot each, with Louisville falling to 10. Now, let’s expand our perspective and look at the entire New Year’s Six. First, here are my predictions for games involving Top 25 teams in the CFP rankings this weekend:
- (1) Alabama over (13) Auburn
- (2) Ohio State over (3) Michigan
- (4) Clemson over South Carolina
- (23) Washington State over (5) Washington, in my Upset of the Week
- (6) Wisconsin over Minnesota
- (7) Penn State over Michigan State
- (9) Colorado over Utah
- (11) Louisville over Kentucky
- (12) USC over Notre Dame
- (15) Florida over (14) Florida State
- Iowa over (16) Nebraska
- Vanderbilt over (17) Tennessee
- (18) West Virginia over Iowa State
- (19) Boise State over Air Force
- (20) Houston over Memphis
- (21) Western Michigan over Toledo
- (24) Stanford over Rice
- (25) Navy over SMU
Rivalry Week in college football is known for being unpredictable. The odds that I will be wrong about at least a couple of these games are the same as the odds that it will get light out tomorrow morning. I hope I’m wrong about Michigan vs. Ohio State! But what if all of these results were to play out as I predicted? The conference championship games that have a bearing on the New Year’s Six Bowls would be matched up as follows, along with my predicted winner.
SEC: Alabama over Florida (this matchup is set, regardless of this weekend’s results)
ACC: Clemson over Virginia Tech (after Virginia Tech beats Virginia this weekend)
Big 10: Wisconsin over Penn State
Big 12: Oklahoma over Oklahoma State (by default – the Big 12 doesn’t play a conference championship game, but this matchup will determine the conference’s winner)
Pac 12: Colorado over Washington State
MAC: Western Michigan over Ohio
AAC: Temple over Navy (Navy holds the tiebreaker over Houston, and Temple will beat ECU this weekend)
Note that for Boise State to go to the Mountain West championship game, they need Wyoming to lose to New Mexico on Saturday. I don’t think that will happen. So, Boise State, along with Houston, will be eliminated from the opportunity to get the Group of Five bid to the New Year’s Six.
PROJECTED FINAL RANKINGS
I see the final CFP rankings as:
- Alabama, 2) Ohio State, 3) Clemson, 4) Wisconsin, 5) Michigan, 6) Colorado, 7) Oklahoma, 8) Penn State, 9) Washington, 10) Louisville, 11) USC, 12) Oklahoma State, 13) Florida, 14) Auburn, 15) West Virginia, 16) Florida State, 17) Western Michigan, 18) Boise State, 19) Houston, 20) Nebraska, 21) Washington State, 22) Tennessee, 23) Stanford, 24) Utah, 25) Navy
And finally, we have arrived…
PROJECTED NEW YEAR’S SIX MATCHUPS
Peach Bowl (CFP semifinal): The top team in the land will play as close to home as possible. This gives us (1) Alabama vs (4) Wisconsin
Fiesta Bowl (CFP semifinal): (2) Ohio State vs (3) Clemson
The Rose Bowl traditionally matches the champions of the Big Ten and the Pac 12. And man, I loved the days of my youth when we were guaranteed that matchup every year. At the same time, we had to come up with something better than voting on the national champion. So now, the Rose Bowl will take the highest-ranked teams from each conference that did not make the playoffs. So we get a curveball here: (8) Penn State vs (6) Colorado. The Committee attempts to avoid regular season rematches, which is why Michigan, though ranked higher than Penn State, wouldn’t go to the Rose Bowl.
Orange Bowl: The Orange Bowl takes the ACC champ and the next highest-ranked team among the Big Ten, SEC, or Notre Dame who is not already assigned to a New Year’s Six bowl. Clemson is in the playoff, so our matchup here is (10) Louisville vs (5) Michigan.
Sugar Bowl: The champs of the Big 12 and the SEC face off here. Alabama is in the playoffs, so we get the next highest-ranked SEC team. So, we have (13) Florida vs (7) Oklahoma.
Cotton Bowl: The Cotton Bowl will feature the best-ranked Group of Five conference winner, along with the highest-ranked team remaining who is not already in a New Year’s Six bowl. So, get ready to see (17) Western Michigan vs (9) Washington!
Join me again early next week for another update. In the spirit of this post from last December, I’ll offer analysis of what each team needs to do to make the New Year’s Six, along with predictions for the upcoming slate of games. Until then, enjoy some food, family, friends, and football this Thanksgiving weekend!