With a win Friday night, Utah could have secured its first appearance in the College Football Playoff. Instead, the Utes will now be playing in a lower-profile bowl game.
Utah lost to Oregon 37-15 in the Pac-12 Championship Game as the Ducks won their first conference title since 2014. Meanwhile, the Utes failed to win their first Pac-12 title in program history.
Not only did Oregon beat Utah for the conference title, but the Ducks will also now be the Pac-12 representative in this season's Rose Bowl. With no CFP future and kept out of the Rose Bowl, it's unclear which bowl Utah may find itself in during the next month. But the Utes likely won't be in a New Year's Six bowls.
Even though the Utes are out of the Playoff conversation, it still won't be clear which four teams will make it until after Saturday's slate of conference championship games. Here's a look at the CFP rankings heading into the week, followed by predictions for the New Year's Six bowl matchups.
Week 14 College Football Playoff Rankings
1. Ohio State
10. Penn State
15. Notre Dame
19. Boise State
21. Appalachian State
25. Oklahoma State
New Year's Six Matchup Predictions
Peach Bowl: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Clemson
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Penn State
Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs. Baylor
Orange Bowl: Virginia vs. Florida
Cotton Bowl: Memphis vs. Alabama
Oklahoma secures final Playoff spot, goes on to face Ohio State
Oklahoma's reward for winning the Big 12 championship and becoming the fourth team to make the CFP? A matchup with the No. 1 team in the country.
But before that, the Sooners will have to take care of business to make that happen. They're facing Baylor in the Big 12 title game in a rematch of one of the most exciting games of the season so far. On Nov. 16, Oklahoma overcame a 25-point deficit to rally back for a 34-31 road win at Baylor.
It's that type of resiliency that proved the Sooners have bounced back in a big way from their lone loss of the season—a 48-41 defeat at Kansas State on Oct. 26—and that they'll continue to show they're deserving of a Playoff spot with another win over Baylor.
Meanwhile, Ohio State should handily defeat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, securing the No. 1 CFP seed and moving on to preparing to face Oklahoma.
Georgia misses CFP as LSU locks up No. 2 seed
The prior scenario for Oklahoma may only work if Georgia loses to LSU in the SEC Championship Game. But that won't be an issue, because the Tigers will take care of business, winning their first SEC title since 2011.
LSU has been impressive all season, especially on offense. The Tigers have scored 40 or more points in 10 of their 12 wins, and they've scored 164 total points over the past three weeks in victories against Ole Miss, Arkansas and Texas A&M, with quarterback Joe Burrow, a top Heisman Trophy candidate, leading the way.
But LSU has secured victories over strong teams, too, as it's beaten Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Texas en route to its SEC Championship Game appearance.
Although Georgia has also played well this season, LSU is going to end the Bulldogs' Playoff hopes with a close win.
Clemson rolls to College Football Playoff...again
At the beginning of the season, most experts predicted that Clemson would make the College Football Playoff for the fifth consecutive year. And that's exactly what's going to happen.
The only time the Tigers haven't made the CFP is in the system's inaugural season in 2014. Since then, they've not only made it every year, but they've reached the National Championship Game three times and won a pair of national titles, including last season's.
The reigning national champs should have no trouble getting to the Playoff again. All Clemson needs to do is beat Virginia in the ACC Championship Game, and that shouldn't be a problem. The Cavaliers, who are No. 23 in the CFP rankings, are the lowest-ranked team playing in a Power Five national championship game this season.
Much like Clemson has against most of its ACC competition, it will roll past Virginia, securing the conference title and a return trip to the Playoff.