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Bowl Predictions 2020: Latest College Football Playoff Projections Before Week 8

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 24, 2020

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throws a pass against Clemson during the second half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football playoff semifinal Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The Ohio State Buckeyes' arrival to the 2020 college football season should open up an expanded discussion regarding the College Football Playoff.

Ryan Day's side is the favorite to win the Big Ten, and it has a chance to assert its dominance over the next two weeks. The Buckeyes start with a presumably easy matchup versus the Nebraska Cornhuskers and then have a prospective top-10 showdown with the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Ohio State is expected to be in the playoff mix alongside the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide, who both face unranked opponents in Week 8. Alabama holds the best victory of the three from its Week 7 triumph over the Georgia Bulldogs, but that could change in the coming weeks.

One week after Ohio State faces Penn State, Clemson takes on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the ACC's biggest game of the season.

                     

CFB Playoff and New Year's Six Predictions

Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Georgia

Rose Bowl: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Ohio State

Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State 

Orange Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Penn State

Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs. Miami

Peach Bowl: SMU vs. Florida

               

Ohio State's opener against Nebraska should serve as the first display of the team's immense talent, led by quarterback Justin Fields.

A year ago, the Buckeyes routed the Cornhuskers on the road, 48-7, and totaled 580 yards. Fields put up four total touchdowns, threw for 212 yards and ran for 72 yards.

Expect the Buckeyes to use Saturday's opener as an opportunity to break players into their offense, including wide receivers Jameson Williams and Julian Fleming. Oklahoma transfer running back Trey Sermon should receive a decent chunk of touches alongside Master Teague III as well.

If all goes well for the Buckeyes, they will gain some traction in the rankings ahead of their clash with Penn State. There is a chance they jump over Georgia since the Bulldogs are off in Week 8 and suffered a loss.

Clemson is expected to remain atop the rankings with a win against a weaker opponent in the Syracuse Orange. The Tigers torched the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for 73 points in Week 7 and are set to take on a defense that let up back-to-back 38-point performances to the Duke Blue Devils and Liberty Flames.

A few weeks ago, Alabama's trip to Neyland Stadium may have been viewed as a tricky contest, but after the Tennessee Volunteers' debacle at home against the Kentucky Wildcats last Saturday, it looks like the Crimson Tide will roll through that matchup.

A year ago, Nick Saban's side produced a 22-point victory over Tennessee, which is coached by his former assistant Jeremy Pruitt. Saban has never lost to a program coached by his former assistants.

If Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State win all of their games, the debate will be focused on the No. 4 seed.

Notre Dame and Georgia could face Clemson and Alabama twice, and if they lose both of those contests, they would drop out of the playoff conversation.

That must be the situation the Big 12 is rooting for to still have a chance of placing a squad in the four-team playoff. The Pac-12 should wish for the same thing to push the Oregon Ducks into the discussion.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys can establish themselves as the Big 12's top playoff candidate Saturday with a win over the Iowa State Cyclones, who knocked the Oklahoma Sooners out of contention.

Oklahoma State is the only unbeaten side left in the Big 12, and it has the potential to earn some quality wins in the next four games, with the Texas Longhorns, Kansas State Wildcats and Oklahoma up after Iowa State.

There should be more clarity in the Group of Five rankings after Saturday's tilt between the Cincinnati Bearcats and SMU Mustangs, both of whom are undefeated. The winner of that contest is likely the front-runner to land the Group of Five berth in the New Year's Six.

                  

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

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