Bowl Projections 2019: CFP Predictions Ahead of Saturday's Key Games

Jake RillAnalyst IIINovember 23, 2019

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (1) rushes against Rutgers during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Piscataway, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Ohio State faces one of its biggest tests of the season Saturday.

The Buckeyes, who are No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, are set to host No. 8 Penn State in a pivotal Big Ten clash. The winner of the contest will be in first place in the East Division in the Big Ten with only one week of the regular season remaining.

That means the loser may have more trouble getting into the College Football Playoff—although it might not hurt Ohio State as much, as it has won its first 10 games of the season.

Either way, this game could have an impact on the CFP landscape. Heading into Week 13, here's a look at projections for the College Football Playoff and the rest of the New Year's Six bowls.


Bowl Projections

College Football Playoff

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Peach Bowl (Dec. 28): LSU vs. Oklahoma

Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 28): Ohio State vs. Clemson


New Year's Six

Cotton Bowl (Dec. 28): Cincinnati vs. Florida

Orange Bowl (Dec. 30): Virginia vs. Alabama

Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1): Georgia vs. Baylor

Rose Bowl (Jan. 1): Oregon vs. Minnesota


College Football Playoff Picture

LSU is at the top of the CFP rankings, and that shouldn't change. The Tigers are set to host Arkansas in an SEC clash, one they are heavily favored to win.

The Razorbacks are 2-8, and they haven't won a game against a conference opponent since Oct. 28, 2017. It's unlikely that changes against LSU, which is 10-0 and owns wins over Alabama, Florida and Auburn this season.

Expect LSU to remain No. 1; that won't change as long as the Tigers stay undefeated and win the SEC championship.

Ohio State is No. 2, but a loss to Penn State could shake things up. The Nittany Lions need to win this game to still have a chance to make the CFP, as they already have a loss this season. They fell at Minnesota on Nov. 9.

The Buckeyes have a challenging remaining schedule, as they will face Michigan on the road in Week 14. As long as they win their last two regular-season games, they will play in the Big Ten Championship Game, which will likely be a matchup against Minnesota. The Golden Gophers could also have a CFP case if they win the Big Ten title.

But Ohio State is in control of its own destiny. It shouldn't miss the CFP because it's one of the top teams in the country, and it's going to prove it.

No. 3 Clemson is on a bye, so it should retain its spot in the rankings. The Tigers will look to finish their regular season undefeated when they play at South Carolina in Week 14.

Georgia holds the No. 4 spot, but there's still time for that to change. In order for the Bulldogs to reach the CFP, they likely need to win their games against Texas A&M and Georgia Tech and the SEC Championship Game, which will likely be against LSU.

It seems more likely that either Oklahoma, Oregon or Utah will be the fourth team in the Playoff.

The Sooners have an impressive resume, owning wins over Baylor and Texas. If they win their last two regular-season games, against TCU and Oklahoma State, and win a rematch against Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game, they should be in good position to make the CFP.

However, the Pac-12 champion should also have a convincing argument, whether that's Oregon or Utah. The Ducks and Utes each have only one loss, and it seems unlikely that either will lose again before they face off in the conference championship game.

But in order for Oregon or Utah to make it, Georgia and Oklahoma would likely need to not win their respective conference championships. So there are still a lot of possibilities for how the CFP picture could shake out this season.