College Football Playoff Projections (11/26/23)

Hello, college football/Big Ten fans!

The regular season is now complete with only conference championship games and Army/Navy left to play. There were some close calls yesterday but the only main upset Kentucky beating #10 Louisville. Auburn was 4th and 31 away from beating #8 Alabama but Alabama survived.

The Power 5 conference championship games:

Pac 12: Fri. 8pm, ABC, Las Vegas, #6 Oregon Ducks (11-1) vs. #4 Washington Huskies (12-0)

Big 12: Sat. noon, ABC, Arlington, #20 Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-3) vs. #7 Texas Longhorns (11-1)

SEC: Sat. 4pm, CBS, Atlanta: #8 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1) vs. #1 Georgia Bulldogs (12-0)

Big Ten: Sat. 8pm, FOX, Indianapolis, #17 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2) vs. #3 Michigan Wolverines (12-0)

ACC: Sat. 8pm, ACC, Charlotte, #10 Louisville Cardinals (10-2) vs. #5 Florida State Seminoles (12-0)

Yesterday Michigan beat previously undefeated Ohio State in a game that came down to the last drive as Michigan intercepted the Buckeyes on the last drive to seal the victory. Georgia meanwhile beat a 6-6 Georgia Tech 31-23. I feel Michigan should move to #1 in the CFP standings as they have a victory that Georgia can't match. Michigan also beat #11 10-2 Penn State on the road. Georgia has two wins over two 10-2 teams, #9 Missouri Tigers and #12 Ole Miss Rebels, but both were at home. Georgia can beat a more impressive opponent (Alabama vs. Iowa) in their conference championship game so my opinion can change. It is likely not going to make much of a difference as Michigan will likely want to play in the Rose Bowl and Georgia the Sugar Bowl.

I can see Michigan moving all the way to #1 from #3. For sure they will at least move up to #2 with Washington going up to #3 and Florida State to #4. I can't remember ever having four Power 5 teams from four different conferences all undefeated going into Conference Championship Week. If all four undefeated teams win, they will be the four teams in the Playoff with the matchups to be determined.

Of the four undefeated teams, Washington is the most likely to lose with Oregon the team to beat them. That would put them in line to jump over Washington but Texas with a win would also be 12-1. Assuming Michigan, Georgia, and Florida State win, it would come down to Oregon and Texas for the final Playoff spot (Washington and the Ohio State Buckeyes would also have one loss but without a conference championship would likely be out).

Oregon would avenge the only loss of the season to Washington and also hand the Huskies their only loss of the season, Texas will not have any victory this year of that quality. They will beat Alabama but if Georgia beats them Alabama will have two losses (Washington will have just one). Oregon has been ahead of Texas every week this season in the CFP rankings. This past week Texas blew out Oregon though. Could Texas jump over Oregon in this week's rankings, opening the door for Texas to stay ahead of Oregon if both win? Texas's win was over a Texas Tech team Oregon beat by just eight points earlier in the season.

In theory if Oregon is ahead in Tuesday's rankings they should be win and in as a win over an undefeated Oregon would be way better over a win over a three loss Oklahoma State. Keep an eye out for #16 Oregon State and #19 Kansas State, both who lost yesterday, in Tuesday's CFP rankings. Oregon beat Oregon State and Texas beat Kansas State. If either or both teams fall out of the rankings, that's one fewer ranked win. Texas will want to beat Oklahoma State (#20) by an impressive margin to impress the CFP Committee but if they win by too big a margin Oklahoma State would be out of the rankings.

Should Michigan, Florida State, and Washington win and Texas and Alabama win, Texas and Alabama would be 12-1 conference champions. Texas of course won the head to head in Week 2 in Tuscaloosa. It should be obvious that Texas is the #4 team and Alabama and the SEC is out but the SEC in the past has gotten the benefit of the doubt in these situations and the Selection Committee has ignored the head to head before including in 2016 when Ohio State got in over Penn State (although that year OSU had one fewer loss). Last year with identical records Alabama was ranked ahead of Tennessee even though Tennessee beat them although it didn't affect who made the Playoff.

If Michigan, Florida State, Oregon, Texas, and Alabama all win, then the debate will be between Oregon, Texas, and Alabama for two spots. The debate between Oregon and Texas changes. Instead of Texas beating a two loss SEC runner up Alabama, Texas will now beat a one loss SEC champion Alabama and the Committee can now put both Alabama and Texas in the Playoff and leave Oregon out.

If Louisville beats Florida State, the ACC is likely out and a win by Texas would probably put them, Michigan (assuming they win), and the SEC and Pac 12 champions, no matter who wins, in. I don't think either Texas or Michigan will lose.


I'll stick with my season predictions: Michigan, Georgia, Florida State, Oregon, Texas

Rose Bowl: Jan, 1, 5pm: #1 Michigan (13-0) vs. #4 Oregon (12-1)

Sugar Bowl: Jan. 1, 8:30pm, #2 Georgia (13-0) vs. #3 Florida State (13-0)

New Year's Six:

Cotton Bowl: Dec. 29, 8pm, #5 Texas (12-1) vs. #9 Missouri (10-2)

Peach Bowl: Dec. 30, noon: #10 Penn State (10-2) vs. Tulane (12-1)

Orange Bowl: Dec. 30, 4pm, #6 Ohio State (11-1) vs. Louisville (10-3)

Fiesta Bowl: Jan. 1, 1pm, #7 Washington (12-1) vs. #8 Alabama (11-2)

Other Big Ten Bowls:

Citrus Bowl: Orlando, Jan. 1, 1pm, Iowa (10-3) vs. Mississippi (10-2)

Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas, Dec. 23, 7:30pm, Wisconsin (7-5) vs. Utah (8-4)

Music City Bowl, Nashville, Dec. 30, 2pm, Maryland (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5) - unsure

Pinstripe Bowl, New York, Dec. 28, 2:15pm, Rutgers (6-6) vs. Duke (7-5) - unsure

Guaranteed Rate Bowl, Phoenix, Dec. 26. 9pm. Northwestern (7-5) vs. Iowa State (7-5) - unsure

(Edited - If Big Ten gets the Orange, they lose the ReliaQuest Bowl to the ACC).

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