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Updated bowl projections, with Michigan State and Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff

With two Saturdays to go, here's how college football's postseason picture is shaping up. What's your top four prediction?

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Twenty-four hours ago, Ohio State was about as sure a bet for the College Football Playoff as you could find. Three tough games remained, but the Buckeyes figured to be favored in each after cruising through three months of nothing special.

Now, the defending champs are out of the College Football Playoff. And while we wouldn't want to read too much into a star player calling out coaches after a last-second loss, picking the relatively sturdy and, to date, equally impressive Michigan to win in Ann Arbor next week feels more comfortable again. That would knock OSU out of the New Year's Six bowls as well, meaning one of the most loaded rosters in the sport's history would wind up spending bowl season in ... I can't bear to say it yet.

Let's go through some guesses for each bowl game, starting with the Playoff itself. The top two remain really easy.

College Football Playoff

National Championship Alabama Clemson January 11 Glendale, AZ Cotton winner vs. Orange winner
Cotton No. 2 Alabama No. 3 Michigan State December 31 Arlington, TX Playoff rankings top 4
Orange No. 1 Clemson No. 4 Oklahoma December 31 Miami Playoff rankings top 4

Tigers back over Tide for No. 1, not that it matters geographically, because the committee kept Clemson at No. 1 this past Tuesday. And a win over Florida wouldn't really move the needle for Bama much more than a win over UNC would for Clemson.

Let's say MSU beats Iowa in the Big Ten Championship. If both take care of business the week prior, that's a Playoff play-in game. If you have any doubts about whether the Spartans are win-and-in, look at their schedule, which now includes a sure top-20 Oregon, Mountain West division-winning Air Force and plenty of Big Ten bowl teams.

Last week, I had Notre Dame in over Oklahoma, and if the Irish beat Stanford, I'm pretty confident that's what happens. But the banged-up Irish got even more banged up against the bruising Boston College as Stanford skated past Cal. With a win over ND, the Cardinal would then be rooting for last-minute chaos.

The next group

New Year's Six bowls
Fiesta Notre Dame Iowa January 1 Glendale, AZ At-large
Rose Michigan Stanford January 1 Pasadena, CA Big Ten 1 vs. Pac-12 1
Sugar Baylor Ole Miss January 1 New Orleans Big 12 1 vs. SEC 1
Peach Florida State Navy December 31 Atlanta At-large

Who's the SEC's second best team? That's been an impossible question for a couple weeks now. If Florida loses to Florida State and Alabama back-to-back, its spot in the Sugar Bowl is far from assured. Rising No. 22 Ole Miss could add a win over a ranked Mississippi State to its win over Alabama, which still ranks as the season's best.

Michigan over Iowa in the Rose, because if the Big Ten's in the Playoff, this bowl isn't necessarily tied to taking the top-ranked B1G team left. And while we love the Hawkeyes, bowls aren't in the business of passing up the chance to pair the head coaches of top-five brand names against their former teams.

The rest of these are pretty simple at the moment. FSU could be the last Power 5 team in, but its season resume is holding up decently.

Bowl (* = filling another conference's bid) Conferences ties, not based on standings
Alamo Oklahoma State UCLA January 2 San Antonio Big 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2
Cactus West Virginia USC January 2 Tempe, AZ Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7
Liberty Kansas State Arkansas January 2 Memphis Big 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8
TaxSlayer Penn State LSU January 2 Jacksonville, FL ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8
Citrus Ohio State Florida January 1 Orlando Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 2
Outback Northwestern Tennessee January 1 Tampa Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8
Belk Virginia Tech Mississippi State December 30 Charlotte ACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8
Birmingham Houston Auburn December 30 Birmingham, AL American vs. SEC 9
Holiday Wisconsin Utah December 30 San Diego Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3
Music City Pitt Georgia December 30 Nashville ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8
Arizona Western Kentucky Nevada December 29 Tucson C-USA vs. MWC
Armed Forces Arizona State* Colorado State December 29 Fort Worth, TX Big Ten vs. MWC
Russell Athletic North Carolina TCU December 29 Orlando ACC 2 vs. Big 12 3
Texas Texas Tech Texas A&M December 29 Houston Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8
Military Miami Temple December 28 Annapolis, MD ACC vs. American
Quick Lane Duke Minnesota December 28 Detroit ACC vs. Big Ten
Foster Farms Nebraska Oregon December 26 Santa Clara, CA Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4
Heart of Dallas Washington* Southern Miss December 26 Dallas Big 12 7 vs. C-USA
Independence Cincinnati* Utah State* December 26 Shreveport, LA ACC vs. SEC (C-USA backup)
Pinstripe Louisville Indiana December 26 New York City ACC 3-6 vs. Big Ten 5-7
St. Petersburg UConn Middle Tennessee December 26 St. Petersburg, FL American vs. C-USA
Sun NC State Washington State December 26 El Paso ACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5
Bahamas Old Dominion Ohio December 24 Nassau, BS C-USA vs. MAC 4/5
Hawaii Tulsa BYU December 24 Honolulu American vs. MWC/BYU
GoDaddy Toledo Georgia Southern December 23 Mobile, AL MAC 1 vs. Sun Belt 2
Poinsettia San Diego State Arizona* December 23 San Diego MWC vs. Army
Boca Raton Memphis Western Michigan December 22 Boca Raton, FL American vs. MAC
Potato Bowling Green Boise State December 22 Boise, ID MAC 2 vs. MWC
Miami Beach East Carolina Marshall December 21 Miami American vs. C-USA
Camelia Northern Illinois Appalachian State December 19 Montgomery, AL MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3
Cure USF Akron* December 19 Orlando American vs. Sun Belt
Las Vegas Air Force Cal December 19 Las Vegas MWC 1/BYU vs. Pac-12 6
New Mexico Central Michigan* New Mexico December 19 Albuquerque C-USA vs. MWC
New Orleans Arkansas State Louisiana Tech December 19 New Orleans Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA

Joining us this week: Tulsa and UConn. Yayyy, American!

Leaving us this week: Louisiana-Lafayette and South Alabama. Awww, Sun Belt!

Reuniting this week: Urban Meyer and the Gators.

As for all the five-win-ish teams in, there's an eligibility rule that could come into play for Nebraska and maybe others.


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