Hello. They're gonna do a College Football Playoff again this year, along with a bunch of other bowl games. Let's guess who'll be in each of those games!
Below are personal picks, filled out after picking a winner and loser for each game of the whole regular season, as is custom. Adjustments were made based on things the Playoff committee cares about (such as really basic strength-of-schedule metrics like number of bowl-eligible opponents) and things bowl committees care about (famous teams with many fans, ideally not too far away), so not everything is going to slot according to team quality, just like real life.
Last year, I ... well, I had Alabama in the National Championship, at least.
I'll try and explain each group quickly.
|College Football Playoff|
|National Championship||LSU||Clemson||Jan. 9||Tampa||Fiesta winner vs. Peach winner|
|Fiesta||Clemson||Michigan||Dec. 31||Glendale, AZ||Playoff rankings top 4|
|Peach||LSU||TCU||Dec. 31||Atlanta||Playoff rankings top 4|
LSU returns a whole t o n, could play 12 bowl teams in 13 games, upgraded at defensive coordinator, and gets Bama and Ole Miss at home. But the quarterback, they shout. Brandon Harris was middlin' in the SEC as a true sophomore, has a horde of weapons, and doesn't exactly need to throw for 5,000 yards here. To bet on a Zombie Les Miles team is to cannonball into a volcano, so I am wearing moisture-wicking garments.
Clemson's my No. 2. Deshaun Watson's offense is going to eat souls, and the defense can't fall too far.
Michigan might be the safest Playoff pick in the country; I don't think the Wolverines are the best team, but look at that schedule. 7-0 heading into East Lansing should be expected. 9-3 would be a disaster. The Wolverines should have a monstrous defense, and the only real Q is at quarterback, where there are decent options on paper.
(To clarify, I don't mean UM is some sort of Playoff lock. I mean if you had to pick just one team to make the Playoff, Michigan might be the best choice. Or Alabama. Live dangerously.)
Lastly, I think the Pac-12 will devour itself, Notre Dame's schedule has a bump too many, and it'll be a long time before a conference gets two teams in. So hey there, Big 12. The Frogs return a load, once you account for injuries, and the home schedule includes conference favorite Oklahoma and potential OOC prize Arkansas.
|New Year's Six bowls|
|Cotton||Tennessee||Houston||Jan. 2||Arlington, TX||At-large|
|Rose||Ohio State||Washington||Jan. 2||Pasadena, CA||Big Ten 1 vs. Pac-12 1|
|Sugar||Oklahoma||Alabama||Jan. 2||New Orleans||Big 12 1 vs. SEC 1|
|Orange||Florida State||Notre Dame||Dec. 30||Miami||ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND|
In this year's rotation, the whole NY6 slate is basically set by the Playoff rankings within each conference. There's only one at-large game, and that one has to include the Group of 5 auto bid.
So, yeah. This part's pretty easy for now.
Washington's bounced between hyped and overhyped and backlashed all offseason. Putting them in the Rose probably qualifies me for Washington Overhyper status, but I'm not calling for an 11-1 team here. This looks like one of several 9-3ish Pac-12 North teams, and it gets Stanford and USC at home. Yeah, the Huskies have to play at Oregon and Utah, but like I said ... 9-3ish.
I spent a lot of time debating Houston vs. Boise State or Western Michigan. UH is the safe pick, I know it the best, and the Cougars played Houston Rap Trivia with us, so my vision is clouded.
|Bowl (* = filling another conference's bid)||Conference selection order, not based on standings|
|Outback||Nebraska||Florida||Jan. 2||Tampa||Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Citrus||Penn State||Ole Miss||Dec. 31||Orlando||Big Ten 2-4/ACC vs. SEC 2|
|TaxSlayer||Miami||Georgia||Dec. 31||Jacksonville, FL||ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Music City||Iowa||Vanderbilt||Dec. 30||Nashville||ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Liberty||Texas Tech||Missouri||Dec. 30||Memphis||Big 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Sun||North Carolina||Oregon||Dec. 30||El Paso||ACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5|
|Arizona||Air Force||Georgia State||Dec. 30||Tucson||MWC vs. Sun Belt|
|Alamo||Texas||USC||Dec. 29||San Antonio||Big 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2|
|Belk||Virginia Tech||Auburn||Dec. 29||Charlotte||ACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Birmingham||Cincinnati||Texas A&M||Dec. 29||Birmingham, AL||American vs. SEC 9|
|Foster Farms||Wisconsin||Stanford||Dec. 28||Santa Clara, CA||Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4|
|Pinstripe||Pitt||Minnesota||Dec. 28||New York City||ACC 3-6 vs. Big Ten 5-7|
|Russell Athletic||Louisville||West Virginia||Dec. 28||Orlando||ACC 2 vs. Big 12 3|
|Texas||Oklahoma State||Arkansas||Dec. 28||Houston||Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8|
|Cactus||Baylor||Arizona||Dec. 27||Tempe, AZ||Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7|
|Heart of Dallas||Maryland||WKU||Dec. 27||Dallas||Big Ten vs. C-USA|
|Holiday||Michigan State||UCLA||Dec. 27||San Diego||Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3|
|Military||NC State||Temple||Dec. 27||Annapolis, MD||ACC vs. American|
|Independence||Northwestern*||Mississippi State||Dec. 26||Shreveport, LA||ACC vs. SEC|
|St. Petersburg||Georgia Tech||USF||Dec. 26||St. Petersburg, FL||ACC vs. American|
|Quick Lane||Syracuse||Indiana||Dec. 26||Detroit||ACC vs. Big Ten|
|Hawaii||FIU||Utah State||Dec. 24||Honolulu||C-USA vs. MWC|
|Dollar General||WMU||Appalachian State||Dec. 23||Mobile, AL||MAC 1 vs. Sun Belt 2|
|Armed Forces||Washington State*||Navy||Dec. 23||Fort Worth, TX||Big 12 vs. Navy|
|Bahamas||Tulsa||Ohio||Dec. 23||Nassau, BS||American vs. MAC|
|Potato||Toledo||Colorado State||Dec. 22||Boise, ID||MAC 2 vs. MWC|
|Poinsettia||BYU||San Diego State||Dec. 21||San Diego||BYU vs. MWC|
|Boca Raton||Memphis||Southern Miss||Dec. 20||Boca Raton, FL||American vs. C-USA|
|Miami Beach||UConn||CMU||Dec. 19||Miami||American vs. MAC|
|Las Vegas||Boise State||Utah||Dec. 17||Las Vegas||MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 6|
|Camelia||NIU||Georgia Southern||Dec. 17||Montgomery, AL||MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3|
|Cure||Cal*||Troy||Dec. 17||Orlando||American vs. Sun Belt|
|New Mexico||Marshall||New Mexico||Dec. 17||Albuquerque||C-USA vs. MWC|
|New Orleans||Arkansas State||LA Tech||Dec. 17||New Orleans||Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA|
I'll do this every week, as I have for years now, so email me every Sunday about it being too early for bowl projections. About 15 emails later, and it'll be time for bowl games anyway!