College football bowl projections: Notre Dame jumps into New Year’s Six, explaining Oregon in the playoff

Another week in this strange football season is in the books, but for those of you who value stability in your lives, take heart: Clemson and Alabama are still Clemson and Alabama. The Tigers laid a historic beatdown on Georgia Tech, 73-7, and remain the projected No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. Alabama got a fight for a half from Georgia before pulling away for a 41-24 win. The Crimson Tide are still the projected No. 3 seed.

Georgia still has to be considered the favorite in the SEC East, and the Bulldogs could get another shot at Alabama in December. If Georgia were to win that hypothetical rematch and each team won the rest of their other games, you could see both in the CFP.

The big upset among the top teams this week came in Tallahassee, Florida, where Florida State took down fifth-ranked North Carolina 31-28. That loss drops the Tar Heels out of the Cotton Bowl projection. They are replaced by Notre Dame, which struggled to defeat Louisville, 12-7. The Tar Heels and Fighting Irish face off in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Nov. 27 with a possible New Year’s Six berth could be on the line.

My projected No. 4 seed is Oregon, which is still three weeks away from joining the fray. That prediction has many readers upset mostly because they believe the Pac-12 will play too few games to merit selection to the playoff. I understand that, but I do not get to decide the criteria for selection.

The CFP Selection Committee’s job is to determine the four best teams using whatever information available. Amount of games played has never been used as criteria before, but we have never had a season like this. Until the committee announces such a standard or gives us some other indication that the amount of games played will matter, I am not treating that as criteria.

One thing they have yet to do is leave an undefeated, major conference team out of the playoff.  I am projecting Oregon to finish 7-0 and therefore find a spot in the CFP. Until the committee (or the Ducks) give me a reason to change that, Oregon will still be there.

College Football Playoff

Jan. 11

National Championship
Miami

Title game Semifinal winners

Jan. 1

Rose Bowl
Pasadena, Calif.

Semifinal

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Alabama

Jan. 1

Sugar Bowl
New Orleans

Semifinal

(1) Clemson vs. (4) Oregon

New Year’s Six bowl games

This week, we welcome the Big Ten and Mountain West back to the fray. Projected No. 2 seed Ohio State was one of the more vocal dissidents of the Big Ten’s decision to postpone the season back in August. Now, the Buckeyes have their chance to go for a national championship. They are a heavy favorite to win the league and make the playoff. Ohio State will open its season Saturday against Nebraska, the program that led the nation in complaining about having its season originally canceled.

The COVID-19 pandemic is still playing havoc with the college football schedule. There have now been 33 FBS games postponed through seven weeks. Big 12 leader Oklahoma State saw its game with Baylor postponed. Florida, the biggest challenger to Georgia in the SEC East, had its next two games postponed.

This illustrates why the CFP Selection Committee is not yet dealing with the issue of teams playing different amounts of of games. We will not know for a while exactly how many games each team will play.

Another thing that is largely on hold is the bowl schedule. The only games with scheduled dates so far are the New Year’s Six games and the traditional New Year’s Day games. A handful of bowls typically play on the Saturday before Christmas, but that is now going to be championship weekend, so obviously those will have to be moved.  This is another thing that can still wait a little while longer to be determined.  They cannot wait too long, though.  Local organizing committees will have a lot of work to do in a short period of time once the schedule is set.

Check out Jerry Palm’s complete 2020 bowl projections.

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