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College Football Playoff Projections (11/7/21)


Hello, college football/Big Ten fans!

So the first College Football Playoff rankings were released last Tuesday. Since then, two of the top ten lost on Saturday, the #3 Michigan State Spartans and the #9 Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Both teams suffered their first loss. This week's Playoff projections take into account Saturday's action as well as the first CFP rankings.

Big Ten:

Purdue has knocked off its second unbeaten team this year (they beat Iowa at Iowa on Oct. 16). But the same Purdue has lost three games this year, at Notre Dame, at Minnesota, and at home to Wisconsin, Wisconsin started the season 1-3 but has won five games in a row with four of them in blowout fashion, including a 30-13 victory at Purdue which looks really good after yesterday. Wisconsin is tied for first in the Big Ten West with Purdue, Iowa, and Minnesota, who lost at home to Illinois. Wisconsin already has wins over Purdue and Iowa. They play at Minnesota at the end of the season but Minnesota has lost at home not only to Illinois but to Mid American Bowling Green. Even if Minnesota wins, they also play at Iowa this week.

Over in the East, the Ohio State Buckeyes now are in sole possession of first place (their loss is a non conference one). But they still have to play both Michigan schools and next week they play giant killer Purdue. Purdue beat Ohio State in 2018 and the loss kept Big Ten champion Ohio State out of the 2018 College Football Playoff even though it was their only loss that year. Considering OSU already lost to Oregon, a loss to Purdue will end their Playoff chances even though they can still win the East by beating both Michigan schools. Michigan State can still win out and win the Big Ten East and would have a good chance at making the Playoff if they win out but they would have to win in Columbus to do so. If Michigan wins out, they still need Michigan State to lose a game to win the Big Ten East (if MSU wins out, they would have the tiebreak over UM).

Ohio State started the CFP rankings at #5 behind the Oregon team that beat them. I had the two ranked the same in my CFP rankings last week. I think Ohio State can jump Oregon though if they beat both the Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines (#7 in the initial rankings) and win the Big Ten Championship. There are no Pac-12 teams ranked in the Top 25 of the CFP rankings so Oregon has no chances to impress the CFP Committee. Michigan State lost which means beating them won't be as impressive for Ohio State. But luckily for the Buckeyes (or unluckily if Purdue beats them as well), Ohio State also plays Purdue. Purdue should be ranked. They weren't ranked in either the AP or Coaches poll but beating Michigan State and Iowa (which the CFP did rank) should give Purdue a chance to be ranked. Ohio State was not impressive vs. Nebraska although Nebraska also played Michigan, Michigan State, and Oklahoma close this year. Ohio State better come to play vs. Purdue or they won't have to worry about the Playoff.

Big Ten Championship Game Prediction: Ohio State over Wisconsin

SEC:

The Georgia Bulldogs continue to impress. Saturday is their last SEC conference regular season game (they play an FCS cupcake and then Georgia Tech in their last two games). Tennessee will likely be their toughest game yet. They beat Kentucky on the road but also lost at home to Mississippi. A loss likely doesn't eliminate Georgia from the Playoff (they might even stay #1 in the rankings) although it would take away their margin for error in the SEC Championship Game.

The Alabama Crimson Tide started the CFP rankings at #2. I had them #6. They played a very unimpressive game vs. LSU. But none of the teams ranked behind them were likely impressive enough to jump them this week. The game at Auburn still looms large. If 'Bama plays like they did Saturday or vs. Tennessee or Texas A&M, they will lose to Auburn. On the other hand, Auburn got slammed Saturday at Texas A&M. I expected A&M to win but not by that much. The CFP made it pretty clear that if Alabama beats Georgia that both of them will make the Playoff, probably as the top two teams. Alabama is the only SEC West team with legitimate CFP hopes. But in the race for the West Division, Texas A&M travels to Mississippi. If Texas A&M wins, they would win the SEC West if they win out and Auburn beats Alabama. Otherwise, Auburn would control their destiny. Texas A&M also has to go to LSU.

SEC Championship Game Prediction: Georgia over Auburn (Could change next week depending on A&M-Mississippi)

Big 12:

A significant upset happened in the Big 12 as Baylor (#12 in CFP) lost at TCU. I wasn't expecting them to be in the Playoff race or Big 12 Championship Game. I think Baylor might have been looking ahead to Oklahoma this week. With the focus on Oklahoma, a little less pressure, and a madder Baylor team, and Oklahoma not thinking Baylor is as good after they lost, maybe you see the Bears pull the upset. Oklahoma started #8 in the CFP rankings (I had them #7). I was not impressed with their schedule (Oklahoma has not beaten a team in the CFP Top 25) and their close win over Kansas and neither was the CFP Committee. But they will play Baylor, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State in the next three weeks along with a Big 12 championship and a 13-0 Oklahoma certainly will be ranked above #8. The question though is will they finish undefeated? I've said the last two weeks I don't see Oklahoma finishing undefeated and I still don't. They could lose Saturday at Baylor or at Oklahoma State although I'd be surprised to see them lose both and I'd be surprised if Oklahoma doesn't win the Big 12 Championship.

Big 12 Championship Game Prediction: Oklahoma over Oklahoma State

Pac 12:

The Oregon Ducks continue to win, the rest of the Pathetic 12 sucks. Obviously Big Ten fans love the Rose Bowl but if Oregon goes to the Playoff you know the Pathetic 12 team is going to be so bad Illinois would be favored against them.

Pac 12 Championship Game Prediction: Oregon over Utah

AAC:

Is the CFP Committee biased towards the Cincinnati Bearcats? I ranked Cincinnati #3, the Committee #6. The Committee has continued to show their SEC bias, ranking a three loss Ole Miss State #17 even though they weren't ranked in either the AP or Coaches poll. Meanwhile, an undefeated Texas San Antonio wasn't ranked and neither was either one loss AAC team Houston or SMU. SMU was upset by Memphis which hurts Cincinnati because beating SMU won't be as impressive and the Bearcats won't play Memphis unless it is in the AAC Championship and if they do it's really bad since Memphis has four losses. Cincinnati needs Houston to play in the AAC Championship with just one loss and the loss to a mediocre Texas Tech team could be ammunition against Cincinnati and the AAC. Cincinnati was also unimpressive vs. Tulsa Saturday. Could they drop in the rankings behind Michigan? That wouldn't be too bad since Michigan would still have to play Ohio State and one of them will drop behind Cincinnati. If you're Cincinnati, you definitely want Alabama to not win the SEC. Wake Forest could have been a threat but they aren't now. Oklahoma is probably a threat. Oregon is also a team you'd like to see lose. But right now just keep winning and be glad you're heading to the Big 12 in a few years. Of course, will the Big 12 be a "power" conference after Oklahoma and Texas leave is a totally different question.

AAC Championship Game Prediction: Cincinnati over Houston

ACC:

Wake Forest started out #9 in the CFP rankings although the CFP Committee did rank NC State #19 and Pittsburgh #25 even though neither was ranked in the AP poll last week (they were both in the coaches poll and both are now ranked in the AP this week). So last Tuesday the Committee valued the ACC more than the AAC. But all of that means nothing now after the Demon Deacons lost to North Carolina. Wake Forest's loss did not count as a conference game. Saturday's game in Winston Salem between NC State and Wake will be for the ACC Atlantic Division lead (NC State would gain the tiebreak with a win). There is still a New Year's Six bowl on the line but unfortunately for them not the Orange Bowl as they host the semifinals this year. If the Committee is nice, they'll let the ACC Champ stay close to home in the Peach Bowl (Atlanta). Otherwise, they'll ship them out to the desert (Fiesta Bowl).

ACC Championship Game Prediction: Wake Forest over Pittsburgh

Playoff Prediction:

Because Oregon is ahead of Cincinnati now, I'll predict they'll stay ahead of them in the final CFP rankings. I do have Ohio State jumping Oregon at the end because of the Big Ten standings.

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

Cotton Bowl: #2 Ohio State (12-1) vs. #3 Oregon (12-1) - We should play it at the Rose Bowl!

New Year's Six:

Rose Bowl: Michigan State (10-2) vs. Arizona State (8-4) - The only Pac-12 team other than Oregon I have projected with fewer than FIVE losses right now.

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma (12-1) vs. Alabama (11-2)

Peach Bowl: Wake Forest (12-1, I'll say UNC is their loss now) vs. Michigan (10-2)

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

Jan. 1 Bowls:

Citrus Bowl: Wisconsin (9-4) vs. Texas A&M (9-3)

Outback Bowl: Iowa (10-2) vs. Kentucky (9-3)