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College Football Playoff Projections (Halloween 2021)

Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK


Happy Halloween College Football/Big Ten fans!

Yesterday was the big day for the Big Ten as we had three big games help sort out the standings.

How do the results in the Big Ten as well as other conferences affect the College Football Playoff projections as compared to last week? This week (Tuesday night), this season's first CFP rankings come out. They will be discussed more in next week's projections.

Big Ten:

Both home teams (the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans) won and remain undefeated in the Big Ten East Division. Barring upsets, they will meet in Columbus on Nov. 20 in a game that likely determines the division.

Considering Ohio State has won the Big Ten the last four years, I still consider the Big Ten Ohio State's until proven otherwise. Ohio State still has to go to Michigan, but they have dominated Michigan in recently. Jim Harbaugh has never beaten OSU and Michigan last beat the Buckeyes in 2011.

The AP and Coaches Poll have been updated as of the time of this post. Michigan State is #5 in the AP and #6 in the Coaches poll, Ohio State is #6 in the AP, #5 in the coaches. Michigan remained in the top 10 (#9 AP, #10 Coaches).

Over in the West Division, Minnesota still leads, winning their fourth game in a row after losing to Bowling Green. The Gophers still have to play at Iowa and host Wisconsin in the regular season finale.

Big Ten Championship Game Prediction: Ohio State over Wisconsin

SEC:

The Georgia Bulldogs remained undefeated after defeating Florida in Jacksonville. They won the SEC East as well after Kentucky lost to Mississippi State. The Dawgs are a unanimous #1 in both the AP and Coaches polls. Georgia should cruise through the rest of their regular season schedule playing Missouri, Tennessee, Charleston Southern, and Georgia Tech, all of which are .500 or worse.

Over in the SEC West, the Alabama Crimson Tide are still in the Playoff race. They are #3 in both polls, ranked ahead of four other undefeated teams. If they win out and beat Georgia in the SEC Championship in Atlanta, they have a good chance of making the Playoff. Before then, Alabama still has to play their rival and nemesis Auburn during Rivalry Week. In 2017 and 2019, Alabama lost to Auburn at Auburn. In 2019, the loss eliminated the Tide from Playoff consideration. If Auburn beats Alabama, they will do so again.

This Saturday, Auburn travels to Texas A&M. If the Aggies win out and Auburn beats Alabama, Texas A&M will represent the SEC West in Atlanta for the first time since they joined the SEC. A&M still has to travel to Mississippi though.

SEC Championship Game Prediction: Georgia over Auburn

Big 12:

The Oklahoma Sooners (#4 in both polls) blew out Texas Tech after playing poorly vs. Kansas last week. The Sooners have a bye before a brutal three game stretch where they play the next three best teams in the conference (Baylor, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State), two on the road (Baylor and Oklahoma State). Should Oklahoma win out, they would be a lock to make the Playoff. But how is a team that struggles against Kansas going to do that?

Also, Iowa State beat Oklahoma last year and Oklahoma usually loses a game it is expected to win each year. In the race for two spots in the Big 12 Championship Game, Oklahoma is a game up in the loss column over both Oklahoma State and Baylor and Oklahoma State beat Baylor head to head. Baylor has to beat Oklahoma to practically have any chance to make it to Arlington, TX.

Big 12 Championship Game: Oklahoma over Oklahoma State

AAC:

The Cincinnati Bearcats are #2 in both polls. The biggest question when the initial CFP rankings come out is where Cincinnati will be ranked. I can't remember if a non "Power 5" conference team has ever been ranked in the top four at any point in the CFP rankings. Certainly where Cincinnati is ranked will be a good indication of where the CFP Committee is thinking about Cincinnati and their schedule as compared to other top ranked teams.

SMU lost for the first time yesterday to Houston, who still has one loss. Both Houston and SMU are ranked in both polls. Cincinnati still plays SMU in the regular season but not Houston. Assuming Cincinnati and Houston wins out, they will meet in the AAC Championship Game in Cincinnati. There should be more clarity once the CFP rankings come out but potentially playing SMU and Houston (along with Notre Dame, currently #8 in both polls) will help them over Wake Forest and Oregon. There are no other ACC or Pac-12 teams currently ranked in the AP poll (Oregon did beat Ohio State).

AAC Championship Game: Cincinnati over Houston

Pac 12:

The Oregon Ducks (#7 in both polls) lead the Pac-12 North. They beat Ohio State in Columbus earlier in the year but trail the Buckeyes in both polls. It will also be interesting to see how the CFP Committee ranks Oregon vs. Ohio State this upcoming week and whether that will change. Ohio State still plays Michigan State and Michigan, both currently in the top 10, while the Pac-12 currently has no other top 25 ranked teams, Oregon could be ranked ahead of Ohio State this week but Ohio State could pass them.

In the Pac-12 South, Utah defeated UCLA on Saturday. They have a one game lead over Arizona State, who they already beat. Other than Oregon, no other Pac-12 team has fewer than three overall losses.

Pac 12 Championship Game: Oregon over Utah

ACC:

The biggest change since last week was Pittsburgh, my predicted ACC champion, lost at home to Miami. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons remained undefeated (#10 AP, #9 Coaches). The coaches have NC State #22 and Pittsburgh #25, the AP has no other ranked ACC schools. Wake Forest hosts NC State on Nov. 13 and still has to go to Clemson on Nov. 20. They also have road games at North Carolina and Boston College (the game at North Carolina is a non conference game). Wake Forest has not beaten an AP or Coaches Top 25 team (Of the top ten teams in the polls, only Oklahoma and Notre Dame have not as well).

Even if they go undefeated, could they be left out in favor of a one loss Ohio State or Oregon that beat Ohio State or not one but both Georgia and Alabama if Alabama beats Georgia in the SEC Championship Game?

Over in the ACC Coastal, Pittsburgh still controls its destiny and hosts the key game vs. Virginia although home field didn't mean anything vs. Miami.

ACC Championship Game: Wake Forest over Pittsburgh

CFP Projection:

I have Wake Forest and Oklahoma both losing games at some point despite winning their conferences. I'll stick to the same four in my final CFP.

Orange Bowl: #1 Georgia (13-0) vs. #4 Oregon (12-1)

Cotton Bowl: #2 Ohio State (12-1) vs. #3 Cincinnati (13-0)

New Year's Six:

Rose Bowl: Michigan State (11-1) vs. Do I have to pick someone? Washington State (8-4)

Sugar Bowl: Alabama (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (12-1)

Peach Bowl: Wake Forest (12-1) vs. Auburn (10-3)

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State (11-2) vs. Notre Dame (11-1)

In past years, it seems like the CFP Committee has been biased towards the SEC and Big 12. Last year Iowa State lost three times including one at home to a Sun Belt team and still made it over Indiana despite Indiana being ranked ahead of them.

If Auburn beats Alabama and Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma, their wins probably rank them ahead of Michigan who would have no "top" wins.

Non CFP:

Citrus Bowl: Michigan (10-2) vs. Mississippi (10-2)

Outback Bowl: Iowa (10-2) vs. Kentucky (10-2)