Bowl Predictions 2019: CFP Projections with Conference Championships on Horizon

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 2, 2019

Ohio State wide receiver Austin Mack (11) celebrates after scoring on a 16-yard touchdown reception against Michigan in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The College Football Playoff race seems straightforward going into Week 15. 

LSU, Ohio State and Clemson are still undefeated, and if all three sides come away with conference championships, they will lock up the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. 

At that point, there would be a debate for the top spot between LSU and Ohio State that may have already been answered after the Buckeyes were positioned above the Tigers ahead of Week 14. 

With Alabama and Minnesota out of the running for the No. 4 seed, Utah, Oklahoma and Baylor are left standing.

The Sooners and Bears play each other in the Big 12 Championship Game, so the conversation will come down to the winner of that contest and the Utes, as long as they win the Pac-12 Championship Game. 


Bowl Predictions

College Football Playoff

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

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

Ohio State's shift up to No. 1 last week signified the selection committee favors it over LSU at the moment. 

Ryan Day's team backed up the honor by clobbering Michigan on the road 56-27. 

The Buckeyes now have back-to-back quality wins over the Wolverines and Penn State, and a third is waiting for them in Indianapolis against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

If they gain the Big Ten crown, they will have five Top 25 victories and a triumph over Cincinnati, which is in the mix for the Group of Five New Year's Six berth.

Additionally, Justin Fields, J.K. Dobbins, Chase Young and others have been dominant throughout the season. 

Each of Ohio State's 12 wins have been of the double-digit variety, and the team eclipsed the 40-point mark in 10 of its dozen matchups. 

LSU possesses a strong resume, but it has not been as controlling as its rival for the top mark. 

Ed Orgeron's team, which is No. 1 in the AP and Coaches polls, had some defensive concerns going into Week 14, after allowing 98 points in November clashes with Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss. 

The Tigers answered that by holding Texas A&M to seven points and 169 total yards Saturday night at Tiger Stadium. 

The question now is whether the performance was impressive enough to have the committee vault LSU back over Ohio State entering the final weekend of play. 

If the SEC winner remains at No. 2 Tuesday, it can make a case for the top spot by dominating Georgia in the conference title game. That would hand the Tigers five triumphs over Top 10 sides and a conference championship, which will be plenty to lock up the No. 2 spot at minimum. 

If Georgia wins in Atlanta, the situation becomes more complicated because the committee would have to decide if a one-loss LSU is deserving of a position compared to Utah and the Big 12 champion.

But the Joe Burrow-led offense, which ranks second in total and passing yards per game, should have enough firepower to outmatch Kirby Smart's side. 

Because Clemson obtains a weaker resume than Ohio State and LSU, it will earn the No. 3 seed if it downs Virginia in the ACC Championship Game.

The Tigers outscored Wake Forest and South Carolina 90-6 in their last two contests and have racked up at least 38 points in their last seven matchups. 

But with a single ranked victory over Texas A&M, which is currently out of consideration for the Top 25, Clemson's resume lacks the punch of the top two squads. 

Dabo Swinney's side can compete with either ball club on the field, but it can't do so when directly comparing resumes. 

The stakes in the race for the No. 4 seed will be handed down Tuesday, as the No. 5 team should have the inside track to a playoff berth. 

Utah was listed ahead of both Big 12 squads a week ago, but the Sooners gained a Top 25 victory over Oklahoma State that may be a benefit. 

The Utes hold the advantage in dominant outings, after holding five of their last seven opponents to single digits. 

Kyle Whittingham's program also took down six of its previous seven foes by double digits, with the only one-possession win coming against Washington.

However, the lack of ranked sides in the Pac-12 hurts Utah's resume a bit, especially with the Sooners holding a trio of Top 25 victories. 

But the Utes have been in front of the Sooners over the last few weeks and have a chance to build their resume by defeating Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game. That would leave them with two Top 25 wins, a nine-game winning streak, potentially another double-digit victory and a conference title. 

The Sooners did not pass the eye test versus Iowa State and TCU at home and have a more recent loss than Utah. 

A 34-16 rivalry win over Oklahoma State and an impressive second win over Baylor may be enough to persuade some selection committee members to put Lincoln Riley's team fourth. 

Baylor faces a more difficult playoff path since it is in possession of zero Top 25 wins and would have to make up a two-spot gap on Utah. 

Additionally, the Bears struggled to put away Texas Tech, TCU and West Virginia while Utah was blowing out Pac-12 opponents. That could also be one of the deciding factors if Utah is compared to Matt Rhule's team after a Big 12 title. 


New Year's Six 

Cotton Bowl (December 28): Memphis vs. Florida

Orange Bowl (December 30): Virginia vs. Alabama

Rose Bowl (January 1): Oregon vs. Penn State 

Sugar Bowl (January 1): Georgia vs. Oklahoma


Other Bowls

Bahamas Bowl (December 20): Charlotte vs. Buffalo

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

New Mexico Bowl (December 21): Florida International vs. Wyoming

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

Boca Raton Bowl (December 21): Liberty vs. Western Michigan 

Camellia Bowl (December 21): Miami (Ohio) 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): North Carolina vs. Louisiana Tech 

Quick Lane Bowl (December 26): Michigan State vs. Boston College

Military Bowl (December 27): Miami vs. Navy 

Pinstripe Bowl (December 27): Pittsburgh vs. Michigan

Texas Bowl (December 27): Texas vs. Mississippi State

Holiday Bowl (December 27): Iowa vs. Washington 

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

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

First Responder Bowl (December 30): Ohio vs. UAB

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

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

Belk Bowl (December 31): Louisville vs. Florida Atlantic

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

Liberty Bowl (December 31): Iowa State 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): Minnesota vs. Tennessee

Birmingham Bowl (January 2): Florida State vs. UCF

Gator Bowl (January 2): Indiana vs. Texas A&M 

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

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

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


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com