Bowl projections: College Football Playoff holds, USF ousted from New Year’s Six

The rematch of the 2006 BCS Championship Game between
Texas Longhorns
Southern California Trojans
on Saturday night had all of the end-of-game drama, if not the elegance, of the first meeting. The Trojans got their revenge in a 27-24 double-overtime thriller. Because of that narrow escape, the projections for the College Football Playoff remain unchanged and USC is still slotted as the No. 3 seed.

Projected No. 1 seed
Alabama Crimson Tide
had no problem with
Colorado State Rams
 and No. 4 seed
Oklahoma Sooners
easily handled
Tulane Green Wave

The game that we thought would divert our attention from the USC-Texas game turned out to be a dud. 
Clemson Tigers
defense dominated Heisman Trophy winner
Lamar Jackson
Louisville Cardinals
47-21 to take early control of the ACC. The Tigers are still the projected No. 2 seed.

The one change in the New Year’s Six projections is that
San Diego State Aztecs
takes over the Group of Five spot from
South Florida Bulls
thanks to a 20-17 victory over
Stanford Cardinal
. That win figures to be what separates the Aztecs and Bulls if the CFP Selection Committee has to decide between them. USF doesn’t have a team anywhere near the caliber of Stanford on its nonconference schedule.

2018 College Football Playoff

Jan. 8

National Championship

8 p.m.

Title game Semifinal winners

Jan. 1

Rose Bowl
Pasadena, Calif.

5 p.m.


(2) Clemson vs. (3) USC

Jan. 1

Sugar Bowl
New Orleans

8:45 p.m.


(1) Alabama vs. (4) Oklahoma

Selection committee bowl games

Jan. 1


12:30 p.m.

At-large vs. At-large

Georgia Bulldogs
Wisconsin Badgers

Dec. 30

Glendale, Ariz.

4 p.m.

At-large vs. At-large

Washington Huskies
vs. San Diego State

Dec. 30


8 p.m.

ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND

Florida State Seminoles
Ohio State Buckeyes

Dec. 29

Arlington, Texas

8:30 p.m.

At-large vs. At-large

Oklahoma State Cowboys
Penn State Nittany Lions

This set of projections reflects a little bit of the horse trading that goes on among some of these games, especially the dozen that are owned by ESPN. For example, Texas-San Antonio was moved out of a Conference USA spot to try to find a better opponent for the Road Runners. They are now slotted to fill a hole left by the Big 12 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl and are projected to face Northwestern.

The Big 12 could have trouble filling a few of its six non-New Year’s Six bowl contracts. Currently, both Oklahoma schools are projected into New Year’s Six games, leaving eight teams for those six spots. I only project three of those eight teams to be bowl eligible, though, and there is no realistic scenario that gets six of them eligible. It’s tough to get a lot of six-win or better teams in a league with only 10 teams that plays a full round robin. The current projection of only three is likely a worst-case scenario, however.

The Big Ten is also in an interesting spot with three teams in the projected New Year’s Six. 
Michigan Wolverines
is clearly the top team outside of that group but seems unlikely to go to the Outback Bowl, which is where the Big Ten will find its best opponent outside of the New Year’s Six games. The Wolverines have been to Florida two straight seasons, although not to this game.

New Big Ten guidelines might have the league wanting to send Michigan west, but with the gap between the Wolverines and the rest of the league seeming to be large, they might make a third straight trip to Florida after all. I am not projecting that at the moment however. Instead, I have
Purdue Boilermakers
and its hungry-to-travel fan base there, despite the fact that Michigan will likely ruin the Boilermakers’ homecoming next weekend.

The other interesting thing about the Big Ten is that three of the four 5-7 teams needed to fill out the projections come from that league. 
Indiana Hoosiers
Michigan State Spartans
Nebraska Cornhuskers
are on that list, along with
Duke Blue Devils
from the ACC.

Click here for Jerry Palm’s full slate of bowl projections after Week 3.