College Football Playoff 2019: Breaking Down Format, Bowl Predictions and More

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 5, 2019

Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons (11) celebrates a stop against South Carolina during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. Clemson defeated South Carolina 38-3. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
Sean Rayford/Associated Press

The 2019 College Football Playoff could feature as many as three new participants compared to a year ago. 

Clemson is the only one of the four 2018 playoff teams in good position to qualify for this season's version.

The Tigers, LSU and Ohio State have been the three most dominant FBS sides all season, and with wins in their respective conference championship games, they will enter as undefeated teams. 

If LSU beats Georgia, the discussion for the No. 4 seed will come down to Utah and Oklahoma. The Sooners might join Alabama and Notre Dame as programs to drop from the playoff to the next bowl tiers. 

If Utah gets in over the Sooners, it would be the second time in the playoff era in which there was a three-team changeover from the previous season. 


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 

If the current top three and Utah win, the selection committee would take four conference champions, and the fifth would sit at No. 5 in the rankings.

The playoff seeding does not typically play out in that manner, as the last three playoff fields included a trio of conference title winners. 

Alabama's Iron Bowl loss eliminated the possibility of a program qualifying for the final four without taking part in a conference championship game, like the Crimson Tide did two years ago. 

For the last two weeks, Ohio State has been ahead of LSU in the playoff rankings, which leads us to believe another win by the Buckeyes will lock up the No. 1 seed. 

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The top honor is important because it allows that team to avoid reigning champion Clemson, who is expected to slide into No. 3 due to its lack of Top 25 wins. 

Each of Ohio State's four Top 25 victories are by double digits, and it could earn another one over Wisconsin, who sits at No. 8, Saturday. 

If that is the case, the Buckeyes' overall body of work could be more impressive than LSU, who defeated Alabama, Auburn and Texas by a combined 15 points. The Tigers also own a 14-point victory over Florida. 

Since the SEC West winner has a better resume than most programs, it could remain in the top four with a loss to Georgia. 

In that situation, two SEC teams would get in regardless of what occurs in the Pac-12 and Big 12 Championship Games. 

If LSU triumphs Saturday, it could lock into the No. 2 seed, which would set up a clash with Clemson. 

The SEC and ACC champions may have to travel to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl if Utah slides in at No. 4.

In that case, Utes fans would travel a further distance to the Peach Bowl, which may make it feel like a truer road game with Ohio State as the home squad. 

Kyle Whittingham's team earned praise from committee chair Rob Mullens Tuesday night, per The Athletic's Stewart Mandel. 

"You look at Utah, you say, boy, they've been so consistent all season long, they have been dominant, their defense is incredible," Mullens said. "We see a season-long balance of very consistent play on both sides of the ball." 

The Pac-12 South winner has been as dominant as Ohio State, LSU and Clemson over the last two months, and it can earn a marquee win over Oregon Friday.

Oklahoma owns three Top 25 wins, and it could receive a fourth by beating Baylor Saturday, but if it can't match Utah's performance from the night before, it may not persuade the committee to move it up from No. 6 to No. 4. 


New Year's Six 

Cotton Bowl (December 28): Memphis vs. Baylor 

Orange Bowl (December 30): Virginia vs. Florida 

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

Sugar Bowl (January 1): Georgia vs. Oklahoma

If Utah gets into the playoff, Oregon would represent the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl against either Penn State or Wisconsin. 

At the moment, the Badgers are two spots ahead of the Nittany Lions, but that could change if the Big Ten West winner is blown out by Ohio State for the second time. 

The Sugar Bowl would be the consolation prize for Georgia and Oklahoma, who last played in an overtime epic at the Rose Bowl as part of the playoff two years ago. 

Virginia would be the top ACC program for the Orange Bowl to select, and Florida is locked into a New Year's Six berth at No. 9. 

If Memphis beats Cincinnati for a second straight week at home, it will be the Group of Five representative. 

Even with a loss to Oklahoma, Baylor could earn a Cotton Bowl berth since it enters the weekend at No. 7. 

If the Bears have two losses to the Sooners, it should be enough to keep them above three-loss Auburn for the final at-large berth. 


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. Indiana

Texas Bowl (December 27): Kansas State vs. Kentucky 

Holiday Bowl (December 27): Iowa vs. Washington 

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

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

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

Music City Bowl (December 30): Virginia Tech vs. Texas A&M 

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): Iowa State vs. Cincinnati 

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

Alamo Bowl (December 31): Oklahoma State vs. USC 

Citrus Bowl (January 1): Wisconsin vs. Alabama

Outback Bowl (January 1): Minnesota vs. Auburn 

Birmingham Bowl (January 2): Florida State 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): Kent State vs. Air Force 

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


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