College football bowl projections: Wisconsin in, Florida out of New Year’s Six as Big Ten starts season

It is late October, but we finally got to see some Big Ten football as the league got its regular season underway. Nebraska was not happy when the conference canceled its season back in August, and you know the Cornhuskers were not happy when they saw their schedule after the season was reinstated.

The opener at Ohio State went every bit as expected. The Buckeyes cruised to a 52-17 victory and remain the projected No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff projection. Next up for Nebraska is Wisconsin, which looked every bit the favorite in the Big Ten West in a 45-7 win over Illinois on Friday. In fact, just judging from the first week of results, which is always dangerous, Wisconsin does not figure to get challenged in the division.

The Badgers move into the New Year’s Six projections, replacing Florida, which was idle for the second week in a row. But why did the Gators fall out?

All six of the at-large teams in my New Year’s Six projections have one thing in common: They all have or will have at least one of their expected losses come at the hands of a projected playoff team. Florida has already lost at Texas A&M and is projected to fall to Georgia. Neither of those teams is expected to make the playoff.

Penn State remains in the New Year’s Six projections despite a controversial loss at Indiana on Saturday. The Nittany Lions fell 36-35 in overtime when Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was able to dive for the pylon to complete a two-point conversion. The play spent forever in replay review, which was deemed inconclusive. The replays and still photos are out there. Draw your own confusion.

The Nittany Lions host Ohio State next week in what is not necessarily a must-win game for New Year’s Six contention, though a loss means that — like Florida — they would have to win out to have a realistic chance for inclusion.

Clemson and Alabama were dominant again this week and hold on to their spots in the College Football Playoff projection.  The Crimson Tide, however, lost wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for the season when he injured his ankle on the opening kickoff of their game against Tennessee. My other projected playoff team is Oregon, which does not begin play until Nov. 7.

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

There was some good and bad news on the bowl front this week. The bad news is that the Holiday Bowl announced on Thursday that it was canceling its game this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The game was to feature teams from the ACC and Pac-12. This is the fourth bowl to be canceled this season, and more may follow. You can expect those