Bowl Projections 2020: CFP Predictions, Postseason Outlook Heading into Week 12

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 19, 2020

Bowl Projections 2020: CFP Predictions, Postseason Outlook Heading into Week 12

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    The top College Football Playoff contenders are clear heading into Week 12.

    The Alabama Crimson Tide, Ohio State Buckeyes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish all have direct paths to the national semifinals by winning out. 

    Three one-loss teams are directly beneath them in the rankings, with the Clemson Tigers in line to fill the final playoff spot at the moment. 

    Clemson should get a rematch with Notre Dame at the ACC Championship Game. The result of that contest could determine what happens with the No. 4 seed. 

    Of the four teams sitting from Nos. 5-8, only the Florida Gators can get into the playoff on their own through a SEC Championship Game triumph over Alabama. 

    The Texas A&M Aggies, Cincinnati Bearcats and BYU Cougars are the front-runners to capitalize on potential upsets, or if Alabama and Notre Dame win their respective championship games and eliminate Clemson and Florida.

    On the same day the playoff field receives the most clarity through Power Five title clashes, bowl season will begin for the Group of Five schools. 

College Football Playoff

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    Matt Cashore/Associated Press

    Sugar Bowl (January 1): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Notre Dame

    Rose Bowl (January 1): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson 

    Most of the discussion involving the top four teams in the country features the potential rematch between Clemson and Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game. 

    The toughest remaining opponent on either regular-season schedule is the North Carolina Tar Heels, who play the Irish next week. 

    If Brian Kelly's side passes that test, it should have the opportunity to beat Clemson with Trevor Lawrence on the field. 

    The Tigers have to look at the ACC Championship Game as their avenue to get even with the Irish and remain in the top four of the playoff rankings. 

    A second loss would eliminate Clemson and potentially drop it into a New Year's Six bowl. Its first chance to impress with Lawrence back on the field comes Saturday against the Florida State Seminoles. 

    If the Tigers roll into Charlotte with three straight impressive wins, they could be in the best shape possible to take down the Irish. 

    The key to the ACC title game could be defensive stops. Clemson and Notre Dame combined for 87 points, and if the eventual victor on December 19 sharpens its defensive prowess, it could be the difference-maker. 

    If the Tigers beat Notre Dame, Alabama wins the SEC title and Ohio State takes the Big Ten crown, they would likely be the four playoff teams.

    Alabama's biggest threat will come from Florida in the SEC Championship Game, while Ohio State has the potential to pick up two quality wins: on Saturday over the Indiana Hoosiers and another in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

    In that scenario, Ohio State would probably take the No. 2 seed since both Clemson and Notre Dame would have one loss. 

New Year's Six

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Cotton Bowl (December 30): Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M

    Peach Bowl (January 1): Florida vs. Cincinnati

    Fiesta Bowl (January 2): Oregon vs. Wisconsin

    Orange Bowl (January 2): BYU vs. Miami 

    If the top four remain the same after the conference championship games, there could be some intriguing New Year's Six matchups in play. 

    Cincinnati and BYU have chances to run through the rest of their respective schedules, which would keep them in the top 10 and lock them into at-large positions. 

    The two Group of Five teams should be matched up with Power Five programs in what could be the biggest games of their respective seasons. 

    If Florida loses in the SEC Championship Game, it would likely join Texas A&M as the SEC representatives in the New Year's Six. 

    The Big Ten West champion probably lands in this group as well if it loses to Ohio State in its conference championship game. 

    If Clemson and Notre Dame both qualify for the playoff, the Big 12 and Pac-12 champions would be sent to New Year's Six games. 

    At the moment, the Oklahoma State Cowboys are the top-ranked Big 12 side and the Oregon Ducks are ahead of the USC Trojans in the Pac-12. 

    With the Rose Bowl being a playoff semifinal in 2021, the Pac-12 winner and the Big Ten representative would likely go to the Fiesta Bowl for a matchup. 

    If Miami finishes inside the top 10, it could complete the New Year's Six set of teams as an ACC at-large team that heads to the Orange Bowl. 

Other Bowls

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Frisco Bowl (December 19): Georgia Southern vs. San Diego State

    Myrtle Beach Bowl (December 21): Coastal Carolina vs. Marshall

    Boca Raton Bowl (December 22): Liberty vs. Florida Atlantic

    Idaho Potato Bowl (December 22): Central Michigan vs. San Jose State

    Montgomery Bowl (December 23): UAB vs. Kent State

    New Orleans Bowl (December 23): UTSA vs. Louisiana

    New Mexico Bowl (December 24): Nevada vs. Houston

    Camellia Bowl (December 25): Buffalo vs. Georgia State

    Cure Bowl (December 26): Appalachian State vs. Western Michigan

    Gasparilla Bowl (December 26): Pittsburgh vs. SMU 

    Lending Tree Bowl (December 26): Ball State vs. Arkansas State

    First Responder Bowl (December 26): TCU vs. UCF 

    Independence Bowl (December 26): Army vs. UCLA

    Guaranteed Rate Bowl (December 26): Nebraska vs. West Virginia

    Military Bowl (December 28): Wake Forest vs. Navy

    Pinstripe Bowl (December 29): Boston College vs. Maryland

    Cheez-It Bowl (December 29): NC State vs. Texas

    Alamo Bowl (December 29): Oklahoma vs. Washington

    Duke's Mayo Bowl (December 30): Virginia Tech vs. Iowa

    Music City Bowl (December 30): Arkansas vs. Purdue

    Los Angeles Bowl (December 30): Boise State vs. Cal

    Sun Bowl (December 31): Colorado vs. Virginia

    Arizona Bowl (December 31): Miami (Ohio) vs. Fresno State

    Armed Forces Bowl (December 31): Louisiana Tech vs. Tulsa

    Liberty Bowl (December 31): Kansas State vs. Kentucky

    Texas Bowl (December 31): Iowa State vs. LSU

    Birmingham Bowl (January 1): Missouri vs. Memphis

    Citrus Bowl (January 1): Indiana vs. Georgia

    Gator Bowl (January 2): North Carolina vs. Ole Miss

    Outback Bowl (January 2): Northwestern vs. Auburn 

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