Bowl projections: Ohio State makes a move as College Football Playoff holds

After two weeks chock full of games between ranked opponents, it feels like college football had a bye week. The only remotely interesting game among the top contenders, on paper anyway, was Michigan at Wisconsin. That game was every bit the grind you would expect with the Badgers picking up a 24-10 win that enhances their strength of schedule.

Iowa’s upset loss to Purdue hurts Wisconsin even though the Badgers played both teams.  The Hawkeyes had a chance to jump back into the college football rankings this week, replacing Michigan, but that certainly will not happen now. Wisconsin’s only win over a ranked opponent remains Northwestern.

The only other game among the top teams that turned out to be interesting was Virginia at Miami.  The Hurricanes put it away late, but the Cavs had a 14-point lead in the third quarter of that game.  Miami scored the last 30 points of the game for a 44-28 win.

2018 College Football Playoff

Jan. 8

National Championship
Atlanta

8 p.m.
ESPN

Title game Semifinal winners

Jan. 1

Rose Bowl
Pasadena, Calif.

5 p.m.
ESPN

Semifinal

(2) Clemson vs. (3) Oklahoma

Jan. 1

Sugar Bowl
New Orleans

8:45 p.m.
ESPN

Semifinal

(1) Alabama vs. (4) Wisconsin

Selection committee bowl games

Jan. 1

Peach
Atlanta

12:30 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Auburn vs. UCF

Dec. 30

Fiesta
Glendale, Ariz.

4 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

USC vs. Ohio State

Dec. 30

Orange
Miami

8 p.m.
ESPN

ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND

Miami vs. Georgia

Dec. 29

Cotton
Arlington, Texas

8:30 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Penn State vs. Notre Dame

The only change to the New Year’s Six projections is Ohio State replacing TCU, a move made solely because the CFP Selection Committee likes Ohio State better, and the only way for TCU to change that is to win the Big 12.

Several teams clinched spots in their respective conference championship games this week.  Memphis, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida Atlantic, Boise State, Fresno State and USC all locked up spots on Saturday. In the Big 12, a TCU win clinches a spot in the title game for the Horned Frogs next week. In the Pac-12, Washington State can clinch the North if it wins the Apple Cup, or Stanford will take it. The SEC West will be decided by the Iron Bowl. Both places in the MAC are up for grabs with Akron and Toledo in control.

We are getting close to the point of not needing any five-win teams in bowl games this season.  There are currently 70 eligible teams for 78 spots.  Eighteen teams enter this week with five wins, and there are four games between two of those teams, so that will put us at 74 at a minimum.  There are also three teams with four wins and two games to play, two of which will play each other on the final weekend (Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State).  The odds of fewer than four of the remaining 13 teams failing to win a sixth game are not great, and in fact, my current projection has one eligible team too many (sorry, UNLV).  It looks like it is going to take a couple of upsets to open the door for a five-win team.

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