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Final 2020 College Football Playoff Projections

Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, college football fans!

[And thanks, Schmolik! Sorry about missing last week's piece. Here's the front-pager this week! --Mgmt]

"We've got two top-15 wins," Kelly said. "We've got a win over this Clemson team that was No. 1 in the country. I don't know that anybody has a résumé that has those two wins, and we've played 11 games. That matters, playing 11 games. Testing your team week in and week out I think in my mind puts us as without question as one of the top four teams in the country."

"I don't care what league you're in. If you're gonna pick the best four teams, we're one of them." Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M. "Seven straight SEC wins," Fisher said after the game. "Some schools ain't even playing seven games." ""We do deserve to be in it," Fisher said. "You're gonna hear me say it now. We deserve to be in it. Now the committee, that's their thing, but I believe that firmly. I've watched the games -- I've seen everybody. We can play with anybody." Added Fisher: "Eight wins in the SEC, I wanna see somebody else do it."

"I believe this team deserves a shot," Fickell said. "Unfortunately, it's not up to me. The thing you've got to look at is the body of work, and I know it's about playing your best ball at the end of the year, but I think you've got to say everything that was thrown in front of these guys, they've been successful. This is a football team that, quite frankly, I don't know how they're going to be denied."

Welcome to College Football Playoff Selection Sunday! You get to hear college football teams politic for their teams to make the Playoff. The politicking mainly comes from the teams where there is a doubt to qualify. The SEC Champion Alabama Crimson Tide, ACC Champion Clemson Tigers, and Big Ten Champion Ohio State Buckeyes don't need to say they belong in the CFP field, they showed the Committee they belonged on the field yesterday.

As for the fourth slot? Well you heard the cases of the three teams in contention, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Texas A&M Aggies, and the Cincinnati Bearcats. When I did my first CFP projections this year the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I asked "If Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson win out, who is the 4th Playoff team?" Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson indeed won out." In the poll, 44% of 61 votes said an undefeated Cincinnati, 39% said a 1 loss Notre Dame (loss to Clemson in ACC title game), and 16% said a 1 loss Texas A&M (loss to Alabama).

Fast forward to today. What's changed?

I hinted back on Nov. 29 that I thought the Notre Dame win over Clemson was a fluke because Trevor Lawrence didn't play, it was at Notre Dame, and Notre Dame won in 3 OT. Not only did Clemson won but they blew out Notre Dame. There's no doubt Clemson is the better team and they would have won the game had Trevor Lawrence played or that game had been at Clemson.

Texas A&M? They've done all they can do, just win the games they could. The SEC, unlike the ACC, stuck to having the championship game between the divisional champions so the Florida Gators played Alabama instead of Texas A&M. You could say Texas A&M benefitted there because does anyone believe A&M would have beaten Alabama yesterday in Atlanta and had they lost they wouldn't even be in the Playoff discussion at all. A&M was hurt last week when Florida unexpectedly lost at home to LSU. Florida was Texas A&M's signature loss and that win doesn't look as good as it did before LSU beat them. Now Florida lost at home to a team that lost to Mississippi State at home. How impressive is that?

As for Cincinnati, they were hurt by having their road game at Tulsa canceled (lost a chance to build their resume although given the way they played yesterday there was a good chance they would have lost at Tulsa and they wouldn't even be in the conversation now). Also, the CFP Committee has disrespected Cincinnati. They currently are at #7 in the CFP rankings, behind #6 Iowa State, a team that lost TWO games, including one to a SUN BELT team! And last week I posted who should be ranked higher and 6 out of 16 people actually said Iowa State should be ranked higher than Cincinnati! Of course that's over now. Now the question of course is should the Oklahoma Sooners who lost at home to Kansas State who lost to Arkansas State be ranked higher? I'm not saying Cincinnati doesn't deserve to be in the Playoff. I'm saying the way the CFP Committee has worked this season and in the past, they most likely won't get picked.

If it comes down to Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M, Notre Dame looked terrible yesterday and you do have to question the win. What game is more impressive, beating Clemson without Trevor Lawrence or beating Florida? Notre Dame also beat #15 North Carolina in Chapel Hill 31-17. Texas A&M has no other ranked wins than Florida. There is certainly recency bias when it comes to the Irish but Texas A&M got it handed to them by Alabama as well. If I had to pick between Notre Dame and Texas A&M, I would pick Notre Dame.

Between Notre Dame and Cincinnati? That would be a really tough choice. Cincinnati really wasn't impressive yesterday. You can say they're undefeated but no one on the planet thinks they would have beaten Alabama or Clemson so you can't say they're better than Notre Dame and Texas A&M just because they're undefeated and Cincinnati's best win was over Tulsa on their home field by 3 points. It can be argued the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers have a better resume than Cincinnati, they have a win at Louisiana, a team that beat Iowa State at Iowa State. You have to ask yourself on Nov. 7 if Clemson played at Cincinnati without Trevor Lawrence would Cincinnati have won? If the answer is no, Notre Dame's a better team.

Final College Football Projections:

Arlington, TX

Jan. 1, 5pm:

#2 Clemson Tigers vs. #3 Ohio State Buckeyes

New Orleans, LA (Sugar Bowl):

Jan. 1, 8:30pm

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Yes, the four teams have stayed the top four all four weeks of these projections. I apologize for being boring, but the season just happened to play out exactly as I thought (well except for the cancellations).

Also of course the big news that came out yesterday: The Rose Bowl is out. Obviously as a Big Ten fan this saddens me. I've watched the Rose Bowl ever since I was a kid and can't imagine a New Year's Day (or Jan. 2 when New Year's Day was on a Sunday) without the Rose Bowl (or Rose Parade). One year I actually got a chance to attend the Rose Parade (I didn't get to see the Rose Bowl because it was the national championship that year and they hadn't started double hosting yet).

Right now it sounds like the plan is still for the Cotton Bowl to still be played in Arlington as scheduled (Dec. 30, 8pm) meaning Jerry World will get two New Year's Six bowls this season while Pasadena will get none. The fair thing to do in my opinion would be for the Rose Bowl to take the Cotton Bowl's semifinal next season. The Cotton Bowl will say it's unfair because they are getting a semifinal in a year with limited crowds while the Rose Bowl will get a semifinal in a year with (we hope) full crowds. But then is it fair for the Sugar Bowl to get stuck with the semifinal this year? And the Cotton Bowl is getting a second bowl while the Rose Bowl is getting nothing this year. Then they can have the semifinal next year on Jan. 1 when it is on a Saturday, the perfect day for college football. They can also move the other semifinal, the Orange Bowl, to 1pm on New Year's Day, moving the Fiesta Bowl to Dec. 31. The Cotton Bowl can then choose whether it wants the middle or late slot on New Year's Eve.

If the Cotton Bowl needs additional incentive to give up the semifinal to the Rose, they can assume the Rose Bowl's Big Ten slot, guaranteeing a Big Ten team in the Cotton Bowl next year (they can also take the Pac-12 team if they want them but who wants them?) Then in 2023-24 when the Sugar Bowl hosts a semifinal the Cotton Bowl can assume the Sugar Bowl's SEC and Big 12 slots. Had that been in place this year, they would have Oklahoma and Texas A&M. That's two years of priority picks in selecting teams which makes your bowl more attractive to fans and TV audiences. And if that doesn't work, just offer Arlington the next available national championship game. That currently is the 2024-25 season. The Cotton Bowl is currently a semifinal that season and the current rules don't allow a city to host the semifinals and championship but the CFP can just let them do it once for trading these semifinals.Or they can give Arlington the championship in the 2025-26 season. It would just suck if the Rose Bowl lost their semifinal this year and got nothing in return.

USA Today said college football needs to "stop worshipping the Rose Bowl" and said "The rigidity of the Rose Bowl’s time slot — 5 p.m. ET kickoff on Jan. 1, per the contract — has pretty much made it impossible for the CFP to land on favorable dates in the years where the Rose Bowl isn’t a semifinal host." Last time I checked, the Sugar Bowl also has to be in prime time every Jan. 1. Why aren't they yelling at the Sugar Bowl? If the Sugar Bowl could be moved, the CFP semifinals could be on New Year's Day/Jan. 2 every year as they could be early/late the years the Rose Bowl isn't a semifinal. The Sugar Bowl is just as guilty when it comes to preventing the semifinals from being played on New Year's Day every year, so don't just blame us.

New Year's Six Bowls:

With my top four, I expect Texas A&M to be ranked #5. I think Cincinnati should be #6, but I expect Oklahoma to be ranked #6. It won't matter what Cincinnati is ranked; they will go to a NY6 bowl. I expect Florida and Georgia to be #8 and #9 because they always are biased towards the SEC.

Then comes Iowa State and the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana has just one loss to currently #4 Ohio State. Iowa State has THREE losses. ISU is currently #6 while Indiana is #11. In the first CFP rankings (Nov. 24), Iowa State was #13 while Indiana was #12. Since then, Iowa State jumped seven places while Indiana moved up one. Since then Iowa State won at Texas and at home vs. West Virginia and Indiana beat Maryland at home and Wisconsin on the road. Iowa State's path wasn't significantly better than Indiana's and the loss should drop them below Indiana. Then again, if the SEC is the CFP's favorite conference the Big 12 is their second favorite. Last year Baylor was a bullcrap #7 in the rankings ahead of the Penn State Nittany Lions even though they beat nobody.

Of course, what are Iowa State and Indiana really fighting over? A spot in the Arizona Desert! I'd rather go to Disney World. If Iowa State gets to go to the Peach Bowl, screw the Committee. If they have to go to the Fiesta Bowl, go ahead and take a long plane ride and suffer in the heat while Indiana enjoys Mickey and Company.

I'll still go with my plan that the Cotton and Orange (and possibly Peach) switch SEC teams so they get their home state teams.

Cotton Bowl (Dec. 30 8pm):

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas A&M Aggies

Peach Bowl (Jan. 1 12:30pm):

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Georgia Bulldogs

Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 2 4pm):

Oregon Ducks vs. Iowa State Cyclones

Orange Bowl (Jan. 2 8pm):

Florida Gators vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1 1pm):

Indiana Hoosiers vs. Auburn Tigers

Bad thing about the Big Ten losing a NY6 bowl is everyone falls down a slot. But with Penn State pulling out of bowls this year and others possibly as well (USC pulled out and they were #2 in the Pac-12 likely heading to the Alamo Bowl), how many Big Ten teams even want to go to bowls this year? Will we even find a Big Ten team willing to go to Phoenix for an irrelevant bowl?

I know, let's send Nebraska! They'll go to the west, they're already practically in the west and they wanted to play football so bad they were willing to play no matter what the Big Ten said.

Thank you to Off Tackle Empire for a great season of college football and go Ohio State. Kick Clemson's butt and kick Alabama's butt and bring the national title back to the Big Ten! [And thank you, Schmolik!]