Ah, it’s that time of year again where great food fills my stomach, family fills my heart, and football fills my mind (and nearly all of my TV-watching time). We’re headed towards another edition of the College Football Playoff and the New Year’s Six bowls, and I can’t wait. As always, at least one fanbase will be furious when their supposedly deserving team is left out. Who will be on the outside looking in this year? To figure that out, let’s first examine…
If world history has taught us anything, it’s that predicting the results of college football’s Rivalry Week games is an exercise in futility. So I’m not going to spend much time on it. What I will say is that I’m going to predict chalk except for Washington beating Washington State and Stanford beating Notre Dame, which will become an important result later. Oh yeah, I’m also taking an up-and-coming Virginia squad over Virginia Tech, but this isn’t critical in the grand scheme of things. (And of course, I’m going to be wrong about some of the games, but this is a projection, so I have to pick something.) Next up…
Conference Championship Games
Next up is the conference championship games. Here’s a look at the projected matchup and winner for each.
SEC: Alabama over Georgia. The Crimson Tide gets here by beating Auburn in the Iron Bowl this Saturday. Georgia is in regardless. They need to beat Bama to go to the CFP, and they won’t.
ACC: Miami over Clemson. This matchup is already set regardless of what happens this Thanksgiving weekend. The turnover chain will reign supreme as the Hurricanes eliminate last year’s national champions from the CFP field.
Big 12: Oklahoma over TCU. Oklahoma is already locked into this game. The only way TCU misses it is if they lose to an atrocious 1-10 Baylor and a bunch of other craziness ensues. I can’t imagine TCU losing to a high school team, so I’m putting them in this game. But, they won’t get past the Sooners.
Big 10: Ohio State over Wisconsin. This matchup is set, regardless of what each team does this weekend. Important note: I’m picking Ohio State to beat Michigan. Not exactly a bold prediction, but you’ll see why this is critical in a little bit. Fun fact: from 1985-2000, Ohio State beat Michigan 3 times. From 2001-2016, Michigan beat Ohio State 2 times. Not exactly a back and forth rivalry in my lifetime. Side note: Michigan fans ready to give up on Jim Harbaugh, please read this to remind yourself of what bad coaching actually looks like. Alright, back to the subject at hand: the Badgers find out what it’s like to play a good team, which they haven’t done since 2016, and they lose to the Buckeyes.
Pac 12: Southern Cal over Stanford. USC is in this game already, and Stanford gets here when Washington defeats Washington State in the Apple Cup on Saturday. As for the Playoff, Stanford has no shot and USC is on the absolute fringes of the race, and you need a really wild imagination to figure out how they possibly get in at this point. So, this is for a spot in a non-playoff New Year’s Six bowl.
American Athletic: Central Florida over Memphis. By winning this game, Central Florida will get the New Year’s Six spot that is awarded to the highest-ranking Group of Five team.
The New Year’s Six!
Sugar Bowl: (1) Alabama over (4) Ohio State. Yes, the Buckeyes jump all the way from 9th in this week’s rankings to 4th after they roll over Michigan and Wisconsin. The losses by teams currently above them – Clemson, Auburn, Georgia, and Notre Dame – will be enough. In this rematch of the 2014 Sugar Bowl, Alabama prevails and advances to the national championship game.
Rose Bowl: (2) Miami over (3) Oklahoma. We get to see the turnover chain 4 times as the Canes advance to the title game for the first time since 2002.
Orange Bowl: (5) Clemson vs. (6) Georgia. The Orange Bowl will take the top remaining ACC team, which will be Clemson, against the highest-ranked remaining team from among the SEC, Big Ten, and Notre Dame. That team will be Georgia, who I believe will lose a close game to Alabama next week while Wisconsin will get owned by Ohio State.
Peach Bowl: (9) Auburn vs. (12) Central Florida. This matchup makes sense geographically and includes an Auburn team that is sure to remain in the Top 12 against a Central Florida team who will be the highest-ranked among the Group of Five.
Fiesta Bowl: (7) Wisconsin vs. (8) USC. This will give us the traditional Big Ten-Pac Twelve (Ten) matchup, just not in the Rose Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl is close geographically to the Rose Bowl, and this game should draw plenty of fans of both schools. Also, keep in mind that Wisconsin will very likely NOT end up in the Cotton Bowl, since they played there last year.
Cotton Bowl: (10) Penn State vs. (11) Notre Dame. A fun matchup of two traditional powers.
And the winner is…
The Crimson Tide, for the fifth time in the past nine years. They will defeat the Hurricanes to capture yet another national title.
Join me again next week, when the rankings are sure to be entirely different than what I’m predicting right now! I will have another projection heading into the conference championship weekend. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!