Bowl projections: USC enters college football playoff ahead of Clemson, Michigan as New Year's Six shuffle

Bowl projections: USC enters college football playoff ahead of Clemson, Michigan as New Year’s Six shuffle

Nobody saw it coming, except maybe South Carolina. The Gamecocks wiped out Tennessee 63-38 and in the process snuffed out any chance the Volunteers had of earning a berth in the college football playoffs. That may not have been the worst news for Tennessee, as Heisman Trophy contender quarterback Hendon Hooker left with a non-contact leg injury and did not return.

Flights can still participate in a New Year Six match; it depends on how far they rank in this week’s CFP rankings. Tennessee will likely stay ahead of Penn State and secure the last spot in the Cotton Bowl, as long as they beat Vanderbilt this week.

One thing the CFP selection committee won’t consider is the impact Hooker’s injury will have on Tennessee going forward. It is not the committee’s job to predict the future. Their job is to rank teams based on what they have accomplished. The impact of Hooker’s absence will become more apparent as the Vols play without him, although it won’t be more than a game until Sunday’s draft.

Tennessee dropping playoff projection means someone has to step up. That team is USC, which is expected to finish 12-1 and win the Pac-12.

Loser Ohio State-Michigan and Clemson, which is expected to win the ACC, are also under consideration for the spot. However, the strength of USC’s schedule and the quality of their wins should give the Trojans an advantage for No. 4.

Clemson’s CFP case was damaged by North Carolina’s home loss to Georgia Tech. That gives the Tar Heels two losses and could see them drop several spots in the CFP rankings of the week. If Clemson wins the ACC, their best win will come over UNC in the conference championship game, assuming the Heels don’t lose to NC State first. Clemson’s best win to date is over Florida State.

College Football Playoffs

January 9

National Championship
Inglewood, California.

title game Winners of the semi-finals

December 31st

fishing bowl
Atlanta

Semi final

(1) Georgia vs. (4) USC

December 31st

party bowl
Glendale, Arizona.

Semi final

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) TCU

Tennessee’s loss also creates a reorganization of SEC teams in all six New Year’s games. However, since the Vols fall to the bottom of that list of four, that doesn’t change the bowl projections for LSU or Alabama. The Tigers are still expected to meet Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl, while Alabama stays in the Orange Bowl as the highest-ranked team remaining in the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame.

With USC on the rise, Oregon is now set to head to the Rose Bowl to take on Michigan.

There was another upset Saturday that impacted the New Year’s Six. UCF fell 17-14 at home to Navy, losing the ability to host the AAC championship game. Now the winner of the Tulane game in Cincinnati will host the Knights. Cincinnati is now set to win the league and the Five-Quarters spot in the Cotton Bowl.

If UCF wins the AAC title with three losses, it could put Coastal Carolina and Boise State in play for the Group of Five spot, but the Knights would likely still get it because of the quality of their wins.

Six New Year’s Bowls

Some matchups for the league title are already set. The Big Ten won’t be decided in either division until Week 13. The winner of Ohio State-Michigan will most likely face Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game. Just a month ago, we were writing Hawkeyes season obituaries as they possessed one of the worst offenses in college football.

TCU is awaiting an opponent for the Big 12 Championship Game. It will be Kansas State if they beat Kansas, otherwise Texas if they beat Baylor. The Longhorns hold the tiebreaker over the Wildcats.

USC’s win over UCLA put the Trojans in the Pac-12 Championship game. Oregon will join them if they beat Oregon State or lose and finish in a two- or three-way tie involving Utah. The Huskies win a two-way tie against the Ducks.

Notre Dame is part of the ACC bowl structure if not in the New Year’s Six. The Fighting Irish will obviously be the most attractive team for one of the ACC bowls, and it’s likely that Notre Dame will be able to choose which game they prefer. However, the Irish are expected to finish 8-4 and cannot be picked ahead of an ACC side with two more wins. This means the Cheez-It Bowl will get an expected 10 wins in North Carolina.

The options for Notre Dame after that are Duke’s Mayo, Gator, Holiday, Pinstripe, and Sun Bowls. Duke’s Mayo and Pinstripe mean playing against a mediocre Big Ten team, possibly state rival Purdue. Although New York may have some appeal as a destination. The Holiday Bowl takes place in Southern California, where the Irish have just played their last game of the regular season. The Sun Bowl is in Texas, which is fertile recruiting ground, but perhaps not so much in El Paso. The Gator Bowl is also in hot recruiting ground in Florida and would bring an opponent from the SEC. My projection is that the Irish choose the Sunshine State.

There are four teams in this week’s projection that are expected to finish 5-7. This is the last week of the regular season for teams seeking bowl eligibility. Last year around this time the projection was that there would be six 5-7 teams for the bowls, but there have been a number of upsets over the past week and no 5-7 team n was finally needed. Maybe it will happen this time too.

The winner of the Army-Navy game could get a fifth win and become eligible under the five-win exception, but since this game is being played a week after the bowl clash was announced, it will be too late for the winner. goes to a bowl.

Don’t see your team? Check Bowl projections updated by Jerry Palm after week 12 as well as the CBS Sports Bowl Eligibility Tracker for updates on what your team needs to do to bowl this season.


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