Welp, we made it to Week 3 before it felt like time to pencil in Alabama vs. Clemson in the National Championship yet again. Bama’s yet to face stress in a fourth quarter, while Clemson destroyed Louisville a week after suffocating Auburn. Oklahoma’s the only other team I could see putting in there right now, unless you wanted to get spicy.
Below, quick bowl projections on how all of this might play out in December, not on how it’d look if the season ended right now. Every week, I adjust a picks board of every game on the calendar, then count up wins and losses and see how the postseason would work with those records. It’s fun to update guesses each week!
The College Football Playoff
- Championship (Atlanta): Alabama vs. Clemson
- Sugar (New Orleans): Alabama vs. Wisconsin
- Rose (Pasadena, CA): Clemson vs. Oklahoma
Alabama, Clemson, and Oklahoma are the obvious picks for any Playoff four right now. If you don’t have those three in there, you’re making a pretty bold prediction, and good luck to you.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 are the hard Power 5 leagues to pick, and there’s a good chance one will be the odd P5 out of the Playoff. Right now, I’m picking Wisconsin to ride its lighter schedule, compared to its Big Ten East competitors, and the Pac-12 to beat itself up.
The rest of the New Year’s Six
- Peach (Atlanta): Georgia vs. Ohio State
- Orange (Miami): Florida State vs. Penn State
- Fiesta (Glendale, AZ): Washington vs. USF
- Cotton (Arlington, TX): Oklahoma State vs. USC
This year, the Orange will take the top ACC team left over and the top Big Ten/SEC team left over.
I’m sticking with USF as the mid-major champion autobid, even though San Diego State just beat Stanford and Memphis just beat UCLA. USF’s schedule still sets up for an unbeaten run, while the other two have tougher roads, but it’s a close pick. As the committee showed by taking WMU last year, unbeaten against a weak schedule still tops a good record against a decent schedule.
The other games in this group will be made up of the committee’s top at-larges, arranged to give us at least one really big game.
Every other bowl game
- Citrus (Orlando): Miami vs. Mississippi State
- Outback (Tampa): Michigan vs. Tennessee
- Liberty (Memphis): Kansas State vs. LSU
- TaxSlayer (Jacksonville): Virginia Tech vs. Florida
- Arizona (Tucson): Wyoming vs. Ohio
- Music City (Nashville): Minnesota vs. Auburn
- Sun (El Paso): NC State vs. Utah
- Belk (Charlotte): Georgia Tech vs. South Carolina
- Alamo (San Antonio): Texas vs. Oregon
- Camping World (Orlando): Louisville vs. West Virginia
- Military (Annapolis, Md.): Duke vs. Navy
- Texas (Houston): TCU vs. Texas A&M
- Pinstripe (New York City): Notre Dame vs. Maryland
- Independence (Shreveport, La.): Wake Forest vs. Vanderbilt
- Cactus (Tempe, Ariz.): Temple vs. Colorado
- Heart of Dallas: BYU vs. Cal
- Quick Lane (Detroit): WMU vs. Northwestern
- Holiday (San Diego): Iowa vs. UCLA
- Foster Farms (Santa Clara, Calif.): Indiana vs. Stanford
- Hawaii: SMU vs. Hawaii
- Dollar General (Mobile, Ala.): Toledo vs. Troy
- Armed Forces (Fort Worth): Army vs. Purdue
- Birmingham: Memphis vs. Kentucky
- Potato (Boise): NIU vs. Boise State
- Bahamas: Southern Miss vs. Miami (OH)
- St. Petersburg: UCF vs. FAU
- Frisco (Texas): Houston vs. Utah State
- Boca Raton: Tulsa vs. MTSU
- Camellia (Montgomery, Ala.): CMU vs. Appalachian State
- New Mexico (Albuquerque): WKU vs. Colorado State
- Las Vegas: San Diego State vs. Washington State
- Cure (Orlando): Cincinnati vs. EMU
- New Orleans: Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech