Bowl Predictions 2019: Projections for College Football Playoff Teams

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 24, 2019

Utah wide receiver Demari Simpkins (3) carries during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Arizona on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The Pac-12 is down to one College Football Playoff contender.

Utah may not be talked about as much as other top programs, but it poses a strong argument to get into the final four.

Over the next two weeks, Kyle Whittingham's team will be compared to Georgia, Alabama and Oklahoma in the fight for the No. 4 seed.

LSU, Ohio State and Clemson are once again expected to feature in the top three of Tuesday's rankings, and if they continue to win, they will qualify for the national semifinals.


College Football Playoff Projections

Peach Bowl (December 28): No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Utah

Fiesta Bowl (December 28): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson

The gap between LSU and Ohio State could dwindle since the Buckeyes earned their third Top 25 victory.

LSU should remain at No. 1 after producing its second straight 50-point performance. But the most important takeaway from the win over Arkansas is the defensive improvements, as Ed Orgeron's side allowed 304 total yards and 20 points a week after letting up 614 total yards and 37 points to Ole Miss.

In Week 14, the Tigers host a Texas A&M side that averages 17.8 points per game versus ranked foes. If LSU's defense holds the Aggies to a similar total, it will cruise into the SEC Championship Game at 12-0.

Ohio State survived Penn State's comeback attempt to win its third Top 25 matchup by double digits. When the selection committee compares the final resumes, the Buckeyes' wins over Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State by a combined 66 points could stand out.

Ryan Day's side can bolster that total at Michigan on Saturday, but it will get the Wolverines' best punch since they enter on a four-game winning streak in which they have not allowed more than 14 points in a game.

Ohio State's defense could be the difference-maker Saturday, with Chase Young working his way around the Michigan offensive line for a few sacks.

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Chase Young #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes pressures the quarterback against the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

In the return from his two-game suspension, Young racked up nine tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks.

Victories over Michigan and the Big Ten West champion would hand the Buckeyes five ranked wins, but LSU's resume would be the better one with five top-10 triumphs.

Clemson needs to beat South Carolina and either Virginia or Virginia Tech to secure its playoff berth. Since the start of October, Dabo Swinney's Tigers have not allowed an opponent to hit the 20-point mark. Because of its lackluster resume, the reigning champion would likely land the No. 3 seed if LSU and Ohio State remain undefeated.

With Oregon out of the playoff picture, Utah can start building its case for the No. 4 seed. Since falling to USC September 20, the Utes have outscored opponents 263-61 and they have limited five of their past six foes to single digits.

Utah's best victory if it wins out will be over two-loss Oregon, and its only defeat will be to 8-4 USC.

If Alabama captures the Iron Bowl, its best victory would be over four-loss Auburn, but its only loss would be to top-ranked LSU.

Oklahoma could also throw itself into the mix by winning the Big 12 Championship Game, which could be its second triumph over Baylor. However, the road stumble at Kansas State could hurt the Sooners, as well as their inability to put away TCU and Iowa State at home.

If the selection committee combines eye test, a conference championship and overall resume together as part of its criteria, Utah should hold a slight edge over Alabama.


New Year's Six Projections

Cotton Bowl (December 28): Memphis vs. Florida

Orange Bowl (December 30): Virginia Tech vs. Georgia

Rose Bowl (January 1): Oregon vs. Minnesota

Sugar Bowl (January 1): Alabama vs. Oklahoma

The Sugar Bowl would be the consolation prize for Alabama and Oklahoma, which would feature Jalen Hurts taking on his old team.

The Crimson Tide and Sooners may end up as the No. 5 and No. 6 teams in the final playoff rankings depending on how Georgia performs versus LSU.

At worst, the Bulldogs will be an at-large team in the New Year's Six and head to the Orange Bowl to face the second-best ACC side.

Virginia Tech has won six of its past seven, and it has not lost to Virginia since 2003. A win over the Cavaliers would allow the Hokies to take the ACC's spot in the Orange Bowl.

If Minnesota defeats Wisconsin, its worst landing spot is likely the Rose Bowl. The Golden Gophers' head-to-head win over Penn State should keep them ahead of the Nittany Lions, even with a loss to Ohio State.

Oregon's Pac-12 North title would earn it a position opposite Minnesota in the Rose Bowl if Utah lands the conference crown.

Memphis will still be the highest-ranked Group of Five squad entering Week 14. The Tigers square off against Cincinnati Friday to determine the front-runner for the position.

Meanwhile, Florida may slide into the final at-large berth through its top-10 ranking. The Gators could finish 10-2 with losses to LSU and Georgia.

The next-best option behind them would be Baylor, but if it stumbles in the rematch with Oklahoma, it would likely drop out of New Year's Six contention.


Other Bowls

Bahamas Bowl (December 20): Charlotte vs. Toledo

Frisco Bowl (December 20): Temple vs. Southern Miss

New Mexico Bowl (December 21): Florida International vs. San Diego State

Cure Bowl (December 21): Tulane vs. Arkansas State

Boca Raton Bowl (December 21): Liberty vs. Miami (Ohio)

Camellia Bowl (December 21): Central Michigan vs. Georgia State 

Las Vegas Bowl (December 21): Washington State vs. Boise State 

New Orleans Bowl (December 21): Marshall vs. Appalachian State 

Gasparilla Bowl (December 23): SMU vs. Western Kentucky 

Hawaii Bowl (December 24): BYU vs. Hawaii 

Independence Bowl (December 26): Florida State vs. Louisiana Tech 

QuickLane Bowl (December 26): Michigan State vs. North Carolina

Military Bowl (December 27): Miami vs. Navy 

Pinstripe Bowl (December 27): Pittsburgh vs. Indiana 

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

Holiday Bowl (December 27): Iowa vs. Washington 

Cheez-It Bowl (December 27): Kansas State vs. Wyoming 

Camping World Bowl (December 28): Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State 

First Responder Bowl (December 30): TCU vs. Florida Atlantic 

Music City Bowl (December 30): Virginia vs. Kentucky 

Redbox Bowl (December 30): Illinois vs. Arizona State 

Belk Bowl (December 31): Louisville vs. Mississippi State 

Sun Bowl (December 31): Wake Forest vs. California 

Liberty Bowl (December 31): Texas vs. Cincinnati 

Arizona Bowl (December 31): Nevada vs. Georgia Southern 

Alamo Bowl (December 31): Baylor vs. USC 

Citrus Bowl (January 1): Wisconsin vs. Auburn 

Outback Bowl (January 1): Penn State vs. Texas A&M 

Birmingham Bowl (January 2): UAB vs. UCF 

Gator Bowl (January 2): Michigan vs. Tennessee 

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (January 3): Eastern Michigan vs. Utah State 

Armed Forces Bowl (January 4): Buffalo vs. Air Force 

LendingTree Bowl (January 6): Western Michigan vs. Louisiana 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.