Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Ohio State vs. USC
Save for Alabama, it has been a long year for the preseason favorites to reach the College Football Playoff. Florida State likely won’t become bowl-eligible, and the Buckeyes and Trojans already have been effectively eliminated from the playoff with two losses each.
After beating Arizona 49-35 late Saturday night, USC should still reach the Pac-12 championship game, where it would likely get a shot at a marquee win over Washington. But even with one of the best nonconference schedules in the country (Notre Dame, Texas and Western Michigan), a win over the Huskies to finish at 11-2 wouldn’t be nearly enough—unless things get really messy elsewhere in the next four weeks.
Despite getting smashed by Iowa this week, Ohio State also controls its own destiny as far as conference championships are concerned. And at least the Buckeyes would pick up a bunch of quality wins along the way. They host Michigan State this coming week, play at Michigan in Week 13 and would draw currently undefeated Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.
Should both of these teams get to 11-2, Ohio State would certainly have the stronger resume. But the best-case scenario would likely be an unofficial, non-playoff, Rose Bowl type of battle between the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions.
Capital One Orange Bowl: Miami vs. Wisconsin
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: TCU vs. UCF
Five teams entered Week 10 with an undefeated record, and all five survived with perfection intact. It just so happens that three of those teams ended up in this bucket.
Per usual, Wisconsin’s win did nothing to move the needle. The Badgers’ last four wins have come against arguably the four worst teams in the Big Ten—Indiana, Illinois, Maryland and Purdue. Business picks up a little bit now with back-to-back games against Iowa and Michigan, but the current lack of any great wins should keep the Badgers around No. 8 in the next iteration of the CFP Top 25.
Miami and UCF had much more impressive victories. After repeatedly eking out close wins over mediocre teams, the Hurricanes laid a whooping on No. 13 Virginia Tech, suffocating the Hokies with a defensive effort unlike anything we had previously seen from this team. Meanwhile, the Knights picked up a tougher-than-advertised road victory over six-win SMU. UCF didn’t score quite like it usually does, but it amassed more than 600 yards en route to a 31-24 final.
And don’t forget about one-loss TCU. The Horned Frogs have held their last four opponents to a combined total of 27 points and play at Oklahoma this coming week. They already have a road win over Oklahoma State and would likely face one of those Oklahoma schools again in the Big 12 title game. Would three wins over the Sooner State be enough for a spot in the CFP?
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Washington
Could you imagine the offensive firepower if this matchup comes to fruition?
Oklahoma and Washington combined for 100 points this week in wins over Oklahoma State and Oregon, respectively. Everyone marveled over Baker Mayfield’s 598-yard performance in Bedlam, but Jake Browning, Myles Gaskin and Dante Pettis all had great showings against the Ducks.
Each team still has a bunch of hurdles to clear, though. As previously mentioned, Oklahoma faces TCU in Week 11. And Washington’s schedule finally starts to get interesting. To date, the only bowl-eligible team Washington has faced is Fresno State, but the Huskies get Stanford this Friday and Washington State in the Apple Cup in Week 13.