Bowl Projections 2020: Predictions for Top Games to Watch
Alabama is cruising toward a return to the College Football Playoff.
After missing out last year, the Crimson Tide are undefeated and in control of their own destiny in the SEC. And they're getting closer to reaching the SEC Championship Game, where they're likely to take on Florida.
The same goes for Ohio State, which is also undefeated and can reach the Big Ten Championship Game by winning the rest of its regular-season games. The Buckeyes are on course to play Northwestern in the conference championship game, and they're likely to remain a contender for the national title.
Things in the ACC are a bit more complicated. Notre Dame is ranked No. 2 in the AP Top 25 poll and Clemson is ranked No. 4. The Fighting Irish already own a win over the Tigers (a 47-40 double-overtime victory on Nov. 7), and the teams are likely to meet again in the ACC Championship Game.
If Notre Dame beats Clemson again, the Fighting Irish would solidify their spot in the College Football Playoff, but it would put the Tigers even more on the bubble, perhaps causing them to miss out. If Clemson took down Notre Dame in the ACC title game, then perhaps both teams could end up in the playoff.
These four teams are the favorites to end up in the College Football Playoff as things stand, but there are others that could end up making it if any of these teams lose before the end of the regular season.
Here's a look at current bowl projections entering Week 13 of the college football season.
College Football Playoff
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Notre Dame
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson
Clemson may need to win the ACC title to reach the College Football Playoff, considering it has already lost one game this season. If the Tigers fall to Notre Dame a second time, another team could end up getting in (perhaps Texas A&M, Florida or Oregon, depending on how those teams fare the rest of the way).
But it seems unlikely Clemson would lose to Notre Dame a second time, especially if it has star quarterback Trevor Lawrence for the conference championship game. He missed the first meeting between the two schools after testing positive for COVID-19, yet the Tigers still nearly won on the road.
If Clemson reaches the CFP, then it's possible it could face Ohio State for the second straight year. Last season, the Tigers beat the Buckeyes 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl to advance to the national championship game.
It would be intriguing to watch these teams face off in a CFP semifinal again (perhaps the Rose Bowl), as it would be another showdown between Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
Alabama and Ohio State should reach the College Football Playoff, as it's unlikely either loses a game, and both should win their respective conference titles. Notre Dame will likely make it as long as its only loss is against Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
Rest of New Year's Six
Orange Bowl: Florida vs. Miami
Fiesta Bowl: BYU vs. Oregon
Peach Bowl: Northwestern vs. Cincinnati
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Georgia
The two teams in this season's Orange Bowl may not have to travel far to get there. The game must feature one team from the ACC and one from either the SEC or Big Ten. That means it's possible Florida and Miami could both stay in state and head to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami for a postseason matchup.
The Gators could reach the College Football Playoff, but they'd likely need to knock off Alabama in the SEC Championship Game to do so. Even if they lose that game, they're worthy of playing in a New Year's Six bowl matchup.
Florida is 6-1, and quarterback Kyle Trask is a Heisman Trophy contender having passed for 2,554 yards, 31 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Miami is 7-1, with its only loss coming against Clemson. The Hurricanes have rolled through the rest of their ACC competition, and it's likely they won't lose again the rest of the regular season.
While the New Year's Six bowls will mostly feature Power Five schools, BYU has a strong chance to make it to one of these games as an independent school. The Cougars are 9-0 and have only one regular-season game remaining—a home matchup against San Diego State on Dec. 12 that they should win to stay undefeated.
Other Bowl Games
Outback Bowl: Indiana vs. Texas A&M
Gator Bowl: Virginia vs. Ole Miss
Citrus Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Auburn
Birmingham Bowl: Memphis vs. Kentucky
Texas Bowl: Texas vs. Mississippi State
Arizona Bowl: Buffalo vs. San Diego State
Liberty Bowl: West Virginia vs. Tennessee
Sun Bowl: NC State vs. Utah
Armed Forces Bowl: Tulsa vs. SMU
LA Bowl: Boise State vs. UCLA
Music City Bowl: Maryland vs. LSU
Duke's Mayo Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Iowa
Alamo Bowl: Iowa State vs. USC
Cheez-It Bowl: North Carolina vs. Oklahoma State
Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College vs. Purdue
Military Bowl: Navy vs. Virginia Tech
Las Vegas Bowl: Washington vs. Missouri
Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Kansas State vs. Michigan
Independence Bowl: Army vs. Washington State
LendingTree Bowl: Marshall vs. Coastal Carolina
First Responder Bowl: TCU vs. Tulane
Cure Bowl: Louisiana vs. Troy
Gasparilla Bowl: South Carolina vs. UCF
Camellia Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Georgia State
New Mexico Bowl: Nevada vs. Kent State
New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Appalachian State
Montgomery Bowl: Liberty vs. Florida Atlantic
Boca Raton Bowl: Miami (Ohio) vs. Charlotte
Idaho Potato Bowl: Western Michigan vs. San Jose State
Myrtle Beach Bowl: Georgia Southern vs. UAB
Frisco Bowl: Houston vs. UT-San Antonio
One potential matchup from these other bowl games that could be fun to watch? Texas vs. Mississippi State in the Texas Bowl.
That's a game that must feature one Big 12 team and one SEC team, so it's possible that it could lead to the Longhorns staying in state to take on the Bulldogs at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Texas is having a solid season (5-2), and quarterback Sam Ehlinger has passed for 1,834 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. So, the Longhorns will have a solid chance to win their bowl game this year.
From 2000-09, Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach was at Texas Tech (his first head coaching gig), so he's used to being involved in high-scoring Big 12 affairs.
The Bulldogs have had some struggles in their first season in Leach's Air Raid offense, but if they were going up against Texas in a back-and-forth matchup, there is the potential for plenty of points.
First, Leach will need to get Mississippi State to a bowl game. The Bulldogs are 2-5, but they have a chance to finish the season strong with matchups against Ole Miss, Missouri and Auburn.
It's possible this bowl matchup won't come to fruition, but it could be a thriller if it does.