Bowl Projections 2018: Postseason Predictions, College Football Playoff Outlook

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 1, 2018

Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers runs after a reception in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Oct.27, 2018. Clemson defeated Florida State 59-10. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press

The introduction of the College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday set the stage for what should be an incredible November of action on the gridiron.

The ACC, Big Ten and SEC champions are in line to qualify for the playoff, with the Big 12 and Pac-12 sitting on the sidelines, needing help to get their best teams into the final four.

Other programs could be thrown into the playoff conversation if more upsets occur, and given the amount of top-10 teams that have lost in recent weeks, chaos isn't out of the question.

As for the other bowls, 38 teams have qualified for bowl eligibility by winning six games, while a handful of others can join the growing group in Week 10.


Bowl Projections

College Football Playoff

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Cotton Bowl (December 29): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Michigan 

Orange Bowl (December 29): No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame 


New Year's Six

Peach Bowl (December 29): UCF vs. Georgia

Fiesta Bowl (January 1): Oklahoma vs. Iowa 

Rose Bowl (January 1): Ohio State vs. Washington State

Sugar Bowl (January 1): West Virginia vs. LSU


Other Bowls

New Mexico Bowl (December 15): San Diego State vs. Arkansas State

Cure Bowl (December 15): Akron vs. Louisiana-Monroe

Las Vegas Bowl (December 15): Fresno State vs. USC 

Camellia Bowl (December 15): Toledo vs. Coastal Carolina

New Orleans Bowl (December 15): North Texas vs. Western Michigan

Boca Raton Bowl (December 18): Nevada vs. Marshall

Frisco Bowl (December 19): Temple vs. BYU

Gasparilla Bowl (December 20): Cincinnati vs. Louisiana Tech

Bahamas Bowl (December 21): Ohio vs. Florida International

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (December 21): Boise State vs. Northern Illinois

Birmingham Bowl (December 22): South Florida vs. California

Armed Forces Bowl (December 22): Army vs. Appalachian State

Dollar General Bowl (December 22): Buffalo vs. Troy

Hawaii Bowl (December 22): Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee State

First Responder Bowl (December 26): UAB vs. Georgia Tech 

Quick Lane Bowl (December 26): Virginia Tech vs. Minnesota

Cheez-It Bowl (December 26): Baylor vs. Colorado

Independence Bowl (December 27): Florida State vs. Auburn

Pinstripe Bowl (December 27): Maryland vs. Duke

Texas Bowl (December 27): Oklahoma State vs. Missouri

Music City Bowl (December 28): NC State vs. Tennessee

Camping World Bowl (December 28): Syracuse vs. Texas Tech 

Alamo Bowl (December 28): Texas vs. Oregon

Belk Bowl (December 29): Virginia vs. South Carolina

Arizona Bowl (December 29): Utah State vs. Georgia Southern

Military Bowl (December 31): Miami vs. Houston

Sun Bowl (December 31): Stanford vs. Boston College

Redbox Bowl (December 31): Purdue vs. Washington

Liberty Bowl (December 31): Iowa State vs. Mississippi State

Holiday Bowl (December 31): Utah vs. Wisconsin

Gator Bowl (December 31): Northwestern vs. Texas A&M

Outback Bowl (January 1): Florida vs. Penn State 

Citrus Bowl (January 1): Kentucky vs. Michigan State


College Football Playoff Predictions

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Michigan 

Alabama's presence atop the first College Football Playoff rankings surprised no one.

The Crimson Tide are the team to beat, and they command respect from voters in every poll because of the dominant fashion in which they have played this season.

Alabama can separate itself further from the rest of the programs in the nation by knocking off No. 3 LSU on Saturday.

Butch Dill/Associated Press

The Crimson Tide have won seven straight games against LSU and have only fallen twice since the start of the 2016 campaign.

It's going to take a perfect performance from Ed Orgeron's team to defeat Alabama, but we can't see that happening, which makes the Crimson Tide the No. 1 seed in our playoff projection as the SEC champion.

The Crimson Tide will receive a test from Auburn, who will look to play spoiler at the end of a disappointing season, and either Georgia or Kentucky will stop the SEC Championship Game from being a cakewalk. But until Nick Saban's team shows it can't handle the pressure of the big stage, it should be picked to win every game.

If form holds in the Big Ten, Michigan will slot into the No. 4 seed to play the Crimson Tide in a clash of historic programs.

EAST LANSING, MI - OCTOBER 20:  Shea Patterson #2 of the Michigan Wolverines runs the ball in the second half while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on October 20, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan won the game 21-7. (Photo by
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Wolverines are expected to move up into the playoff positions after Week 10 as LSU falls out of its No. 3 spot.

However, Week 10 won't be easy for Michigan, as it hosts a Penn State team trying to claw its way back into the national discussion.

Michigan's path to the playoff is much more difficult than Alabama's, as it has to beat Penn State, Ohio State and whichever team emerges from the mess in the Big Ten West.

There's plenty of reason to believe the Wolverines pass all their upcoming tests because of the way in which they handled Wisconsin and Michigan State in October.

If the same Michigan team from those victories shows up in November and December, the Wolverines will be in the playoff.


No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame 

Clemson looks like the only team in the nation that can hold its own on the field with Alabama.

The Tigers are once again the juggernaut of the ACC, and there aren't many road blocks left between them and a return to the playoff.

Clemson's toughest test before the ACC Championship Game will be away at Boston College in Week 11, but even in that game, the Tigers should be favored by double digits since the Eagles' best win is against a struggling Miami team.

TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 27: Christian Wilkins #42 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates after rushing for a touchdown during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida. Clemson won 59-10.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Just like Michigan in the Big Ten, Clemson's opponent in the conference championship game will come from a division full of average teams.

Recently, it looked like Notre Dame would be able to cruise into the playoff—and it still might. But the challenges in November have gotten a bit more difficult.

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 27:  Miles Boykin #81, with Nic Weishar #82 and Chase Claypool #83, of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate after scoring a touchdown in the 1st half against the Navy Midshipmen at SDCCU Stadium on October 27, 2018 in San Diego,
Kent Horner/Getty Images

The Fighting Irish travel to Northwestern for a Saturday night showdown before taking on Syracuse at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 17.

Although the games will be tighter because of the recent success of the Wildcats and Orange, the victories will help Notre Dame's strength of schedule when it gets compared to those of the other contenders.

Winning out is crucial for Brian Kelly's team, and if it gets all the way to the playoff, the Week 1 win over Michigan will help it avoid Alabama and draw Clemson in the national semifinal.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.