Bowl Predictions 2018 CFP Projections with Conference Championships on Horizon

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 26, 2018

Clemson's Tee Higgins (5) outruns the tackle attempt by South Carolina's R.J. Roderick uring the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Clemson, S.C. Clemson won 56-35. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Richard Shiro/Associated Press

The only topic you'll hear in college football conversations ahead of Week 14 is the College Football Playoff. 

After a few weeks of status quo at the top of the rankings, Ohio State's win over Michigan handed us a debate that will continue throughout the next seven days. 

Although neither Oklahoma nor Ohio State will end up in the playoff positions when Tuesday's rankings come out, one of them will slide into the final four if Georgia loses the SEC Championship to Alabama. 

As if that wasn't enough to make your head spin, an Alabama loss would open up the debate to three teams, with the Crimson Tide joining the conversation involving the Sooners and Buckeyes. 

                      

Bowl Projections

College Football Playoff

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

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

                  

New Year's Six

Peach Bowl (December 29): Michigan vs. Florida

Fiesta Bowl (January 1): UCF vs. Washington State

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

Sugar Bowl (January 1): Texas vs. Georgia

                   

Other Bowls

New Mexico Bowl (December 15): Fresno State vs. North Texas 

Cure Bowl (December 15): Tulane vs. Georgia Southern

Las Vegas Bowl (December 15): Boise State vs. Arizona State 

Camellia Bowl (December 15): Western Michigan vs. Louisiana

New Orleans Bowl (December 15): Marshall vs. Appalachian State

Boca Raton Bowl (December 18): South Florida vs. Middle Tennessee State 

Frisco Bowl (December 19): Eastern Michigan vs. Southern Miss

Gasparilla Bowl (December 20): Memphis vs. UAB

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

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (December 21): Utah State vs. Ohio

Birmingham Bowl (December 22): Cincinnati vs. BYU 

Armed Forces Bowl (December 22): Temple vs. Baylor

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

Hawaii Bowl (December 22): Hawaii vs. Louisiana Tech 

First Responder Bowl (December 26): Wake Forest vs. Army

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

Cheez-It Bowl (December 26): Nevada vs. Northern Illinois

Independence Bowl (December 27): Miami vs. Missouri

Pinstripe Bowl (December 27): Purdue vs. Duke 

Texas Bowl (December 27): TCU vs. Vanderbilt

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

Camping World Bowl (December 28): Syracuse vs. Iowa State

Alamo Bowl (December 28): West Virginia vs. Utah

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

Arizona Bowl (December 29): San Diego State vs. Arkansas State 

Military Bowl (December 31): Boston College vs. Houston

Sun Bowl (December 31): California vs. Virginia

Redbox Bowl (December 31): Michigan State vs. Stanford

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

Holiday Bowl (December 31): Oregon vs. Wisconsin

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

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

Citrus Bowl (January 1): Kentucky vs. Northwestern

              

Playoff Projections

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Oklahoma

How Oklahoma ends up in a matchup with Alabama will be controversial in the eyes of some if the Sooners get into the playoff over Ohio State.

However, the potential of the two Heisman Trophy favorites squaring off against each other on the sport's biggest stage would force everyone to tune in. 

Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, who is seen by many as the top candidate to earn the Heisman in two weeks, has thrown for 3,189 yards and 36 touchdowns while only turning the ball over twice on a pair of interceptions. 

Butch Dill/Associated Press

The Crimson Tide didn't exactly have a gaping need at quarterback, but Tagovailoa's strengthened the position to a point where Alabama's offense is borderline unstoppable. 

Stopping Tagovailoa would be a difficult task for an Oklahoma defense that gave up 40 points to Kansas two weeks ago, but the Sooners would have a shot to keep up with the Tide because of Kyler Murray. 

Murray has 3,674 yards and 37 touchdowns through the air and an additional 853 yards and 11 touchdowns in the running game. 

The versatility of Murray is the main reason he's considered as the other top contender for the Heisman, but unless Tagovailoa stumbles through the SEC Championship, he'll likely finish second in voting for the prestigious honor. 

A matchup with Alabama's seventh-best defense that gives up 13.8 points per game would be the ultimate test of Murray's ability, and it's one well worth the price of admission if it comes to fruition. 

                    

No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame 

The only sure thing about the College Football Playoff is the presence of Notre Dame. 

The 12-0 Fighting Irish locked up a spot in the national semifinals with a victory over USC in Week 13. 

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 10: Dexter Williams #2 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs the ball for a 32-yard touchdown during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Notre Dame Stadium on November 10, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame won 4
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

While Brian Kelly's team watches from home, Clemson will secure one of the three remaining playoff berths with a dominant showing against Pittsburgh. 

By Clemson's standards, the 56-35 win over South Carolina wasn't good enough from a defensive perspective, as the Tigers held their previous four opponents to a combined 40 points. 

Clemson is similar to Alabama, as it has a young quarterback leading the charge on offense with an impressive defense backing him up. 

The Tigers have given up 0.2 points per game more than Alabama, and they'll receive a chance to flex their defensive muscle against a five-loss Pittsburgh team that's entering the ACC Championship off a defeat at the hands of Miami in which it mustered three points. 

A meeting between Clemson and Notre Dame would occur if Alabama wins, as the seeds would reshuffle if Georgia triumphs in the SEC Championship. 

One of the most intriguing battles in the matchup involving the ACC champion and Notre Dame comes in the trenches, as Dexter Williams, who is 59 yards away from the 1,000-yard mark, goes up against Clemson's defensive line chock full of NFL prospects. 

Although we've paid much more attention to Clemson's defense, Notre Dame boasts a strong unit as well, and the Irish could pose a challenge for freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, as they've given up 198 passing yards and 17.3 points per game. 

                  

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

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