Bowl Projections 2020: CFP Predictions After Week 12 AP Poll Release
The College Football Playoff discussion felt like it took a week off.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were the only team in action in Week 11 due to COVID-19-related postponements that affected the Alabama Crimson Tide and Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Clemson Tigers' natural bye week.
None of the four playoff contenders will be in action in Week 12. Notre Dame has a week off to prepare for the North Carolina Tar Heels, which means it should stay at No. 2 in the AP Top 25 behind Alabama, who will take on the Kentucky Wildcats.
Ohio State faces the most difficult challenge in Week 12 against the undefeated Indiana Hoosiers, a game in which it has the opportunity to prove it is in a class of its own in the Big Ten.
Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Notre Dame
Alabama and Notre Dame are No. 1 and No. 2 in the new AP Top 25, but they may not be in those positions by the time the College Football Playoff committee decides on the final four participants.
The Crimson Tide have a clear path to the SEC Championship Game with a head-to-head advantage over the Texas A&M Aggies in the SEC West and three favorable matchups left in the regular season.
If Alabama's postponed game with the LSU Tigers is rescheduled, it would be favored in that matchup as well.
The toughest test left for Nick Saban's side should come from the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game.
Florida continues to roll through the SEC East and could pose a challenge to the Tide with its aerial attack, led by Kyle Trask.
If the Crimson Tide prove the talent gap between them and the rest of the SEC still exists, or if they eke out a tight victory, they could claim the No. 1 overall seed, which could land them in SEC country at the Sugar Bowl.
Conference championship weekend should be tough for Notre Dame as well since it is expected to play Clemson on December 19.
A rematch became more of a possibility since North Carolina was upset by Virginia.
That leaves Notre Dame, Clemson and the Miami Hurricanes as the only teams with one or zero losses in the ACC. If they remain in those positions, Clemson would advance through its head-to-head tiebreaker over Miami.
Beating Clemson twice in the same season could be difficult, especially if the Tigers tighten up their defense in the coming weeks.
Notre Dame allowed 40 points to the unit led by D.J. Uiagalelei and could be susceptible to a similar concession against Trevor Lawrence.
If the Irish's only defeat comes at the hands of Clemson, they should not fall far in the rankings and will still land in one of the two national semifinals.
Rose Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson
Ohio State's Week 12 contest with Indiana could be one of the most important games to playoff seeding.
The Buckeyes can earn a top-10 victory on a schedule that does not feature any other ranked opponents.
Indiana has emerged as the main contender to Ohio State in the Big Ten East, which means the win over the Penn State Nittany Lions and a potential victory over the Michigan Wolverines may not carry as much value as previous years.
Ryan Day's side owns three double-digit victories from its first three games, and if it flexes the same power against the Hoosiers, it could make a case to be the top team in the nation.
After the Indiana game, the Buckeyes may have to wait until the Big Ten Championship Game to play another ranked foe.
At the moment, the Northwestern Wildcats and Wisconsin Badgers are the top two teams in the Big Ten West. They meet on Saturday at Ryan Field.
Saturday will provide us with a first look at Clemson with Lawrence back in the lineup. The Tigers visit the Florida State Seminoles.
Before he was shut down for two games following a positive COVID-19 test, the quarterback produced 1,833 passing yards and 17 touchdowns.
A year ago against Florida State, Lawrence put up 170 passing yards and a trio of scores in a 45-14 rout.
Clemson does not face a ranked opponent for the rest of the regular season, so if it beats Notre Dame on December 19, it would have two Top 25 wins on its resume.
A victory in the rematch with Notre Dame combined with a conference championship should be enough to move the Tigers beneath Clemson and Ohio State in the rankings.
New Year's 6
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
Peach Bowl: Florida vs. Cincinnati
Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs. Wisconsin
Orange Bowl: BYU vs. Miami
Since the top eight teams in the AP Top 25 did not change, the New Year's Six projections should not be altered much in the next week.
Florida remains one spot back of Texas A&M, and if the Gators do not beat Alabama, the two teams should take up two of the eight New Year's Six bids. In that situation, the Aggies may be given preferential treatment since it has a head-to-head win over Florida.
Miami dropped three places from No. 9 to No. 12, but it could still contend for an at-large berth if Clemson and Notre Dame both make the playoff.
The Hurricanes could move in front of Indiana and Wisconsin if they both lose to Ohio State, and that would put them back in the top 10.
If Wisconsin beats Northwestern and lands in the Big Ten Championship Game, it could own an advantage over Indiana when it comes to New Year's Six selection.
If the Big 12 and Pac-12 are left out of the final four, those conferences would put a team each in the New Year's Six.
That leaves two positions for the Cincinnati Bearcats and BYU Cougars, who are both inside the top 10 and should be valued in the playoff rankings because of their dominant performances in their unbeaten runs.
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Statistics obtained from ESPN.com