College football bowl projections: Notre Dame moves into playoff as New Year’s Six shuffles

The hits keep on coming in 2020. No. 4 Ohio State became the latest team forced to put things on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Buckeyes’ game at Illinois was canceled late Friday night, and they are now one more cancellation away from not being eligible for the Big Ten Championship Game.

It was a rough week for the Pac-12 also, but why should this week be any different? After the initial College Football Playoff Rankings came out with Oregon as the highest-rated team in the conference at No. 15, the Ducks went out at lost 41-38 at Oregon State in the fog. On top of that, No. 18 USC had its game at Utah canceled, limiting the Trojans’ schedule to five regular-season games, plus a potential Pac-12 Championship Game.

I am still projecting Oregon to win the league, but obviously, their long-shot playoff chances are dead. In fact, it is looking more likely that the Pac-12 will produce a champion that does not crack the top 10 of the final CFP Rankings. That has not happened to a major conference champion in the CFP era.

No. 2 Notre Dame takes Oregon’s spot in the projected CFP as the four seed. The Fighting Irish beat North Carolina 31-17 on Friday night.

No. 3 Clemson finally took the field for the first time after the loss to Notre Dame back on Nov. 7. The Tigers mauled Pittsburgh 52-17 in quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s return to action. Clemson remains the projected three seed in the College Football Playoff.

College Football Playoff

Jan. 11

National ChampionshipMiami

Title game Semifinal winners

Jan. 1

Rose BowlPasadena, Calif.

Semifinal

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson

Jan. 1

Sugar BowlNew Orleans

Semifinal

(1) Alabama vs. (4) Notre Dame

As such, I now have Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl facing Northwestern. The No. 8 Wildcats took their first loss of the season at Michigan State, 29-20. Northwestern will drop out of contention for a New Year’s Six game entirely if it loses to anyone else but Ohio State the rest of the way.

No. 16 Wisconsin also had a game canceled, but this time it was due to a COVID-19 outbreak for Minnesota, the Badgers’ opponent. That is the third game canceled for Wisconsin and makes it ineligible for the Big Ten Championship Game. That would have mattered more if Wisconsin had defeated Northwestern last week. The Badgers are still projected into the Cotton Bowl to face expected Big 12 champion Oklahoma.

It is likely that the No. 11 Sooners will face No. 13 Iowa State for the Big 12 championship. The Cyclones clinched a share of the league title with a 23-20 win at Texas.

With Notre Dame moving up to the playoff, there was more shifting around with the other New Year’s Six games. Miami-Florida is now the matchup in the Orange Bowl, while Cincinnati is now projected to face Georgia in the Peach Bowl.

New Year’s Six bowl games

I still do not expect either No. 5 Texas A&M or No. 14 BYU to make an appearance in the New Year’s Six. Of course, in the Aggies’ case, that requires a loss at some point, most likely at Auburn.

The CFP Selection Committee made clear its feelings about BYU’s schedule on Tuesday night, but the Cougars still have an outside chance to get a spot. However, that chance was hurt by San Diego State’s loss at Colorado late Saturday night. The Aztecs are BYU’s only remaining opponent.

If BYU falls short of the New Year’s Six, I believe ESPN will do what it can to get the Cougars the best opponent possible. Unfortunately, the bowl pairings do not provide many chances for that. I expect that the highest-rated potential opponent for BYU to be No. 20 Coastal Carolina. They only bowl that would fit those teams is the Lending Tree Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, on Dec. 26. The Chanticleers cannot play earlier than that because they will play in the Sun Belt Championship Game on Dec. 19.

Check out Jerry Palm’s complete 2020 bowl projections.

Published: 2020-11-29 15:53:05

Tags: #College #football #bowl #projections #Notre #Dame #moves #playoff #Years #shuffles

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