Clemson Football defeated North Carolina Saturday night and earned a bid to the Orange Bowl on December 30th.
The rest of the top college football teams in the nation will learn their postseason fortunes (or fates) today, starting with the four teams that will be part of this year’s College Football Playoff.
Here’s are my predictions for the CFP and the New Year’s Six bowls:
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: #4 Alabama Crimson Tide vs #1 Georgia Bulldogs – Georgia has cruised right through all the predictions of a drop-off and appears poised to win another national championship. Thanks to TCU and USC tripping up in their conference championship games, Alabama has sauntered into the playoffs. Now Kirby Smart has to go through Nick Saban again.
I truly want to believe that the committee will put TCU here, but I just don’t have faith they will. I think the ‘nightmare’ scenario is coming true. The SEC will get two teams in, and I think the Big Ten will too.
Vrbo Fiesta Bowl: #3 Ohio State vs #2 Michigan Wolverines – After last year’s semi-final loss to Georgia, most people thought the Wolverines’ ascent to the top of the Big Ten would be brief. Michigan proved otherwise by marching into Columbus and flexing. Although we know Blake Corum won’t play anymore this season due to injury, Big Blue looks like the strongest challenger to take the Bulldog’s title away from them.
The Buckeyes, however, spent most of last week in a lover’s quarrel with the Rose Bowl. You can learn more about the apparent bad blood between the Buckeyes and the Granddaddy Of Them All below, but it is irrelevant now.
This is a rare opportunity to get revenge against your archrival in the playoffs. How do the Buckeyes bounce back after the loss at home to Michigan? You would think they would come out fired up. The Wolverines were dominant in Columbus, however. I will have to think about this one before I make a pick.
Capital One Orange Bowl: Clemson Tigers vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish – The Orange Bowl matches the ACC Champion against a selection from the SEC, the Big Ten or Notre Dame. At one point it was going to be Ohio State here because of the lover’s quarrel, but then USC lost and put the Buckeyes in the playoff. Then it was going to be Tennessee, but then TCU lost, putting Alabama in the playoff and Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl.
That means there were three choices: 1) put in LSU, who was soundly beaten by Georgia, 2) South Carolina, who might be the highest ranked option or 3) Notre Dame, who was ranked behind the Gamecocks in the last ranking but is a much bigger draw.
I think it will be a rematch with the Irish in Miami.
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Tennessee Volunteers vs Kansas State Wildcats – The Sugar has an SEC vs Big 12 bowl tie-in. With Alabama in the playoff, the Vols get the nod here to represent the SEC. Kansas State gets the Big 12 spot since they won the conference.
I’m not making picks today, but Hendon Hooker is out for the season. Kansas State has been playing very well. I don’t want to count Tennessee out, but I think they have their hands full here.
Clemson Football and the other top teams will create compelling matchups around the New Year’s holiday
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: TCU Horned Frogs vs Tulane Green Wave – TCU ran out of last minute magic. Honestly, I put this on Sonny Dykes for a headscratching decision to go for it on 4th & 1 when they had the first possession in overtime. That made no sense. Not all is lost however.
The Cotton has the one at-large spot available. TCU and USC are up for it. USC is the bigger brand. If this game were in Arizona, the Trojans are a no brainer, but it is in Dallas. TCU is right next door. So sorry Lincoln Riley.
The other spot will have to go to the Group of Five “champion”. I like Tulane. I am excited for their fans and coach Willy Fritz, who has worked a long time for this kind of success in New Orleans. I love the story of the G5 darling….right up until they get put in a NY6 bowl game.
Power Five teams don’t tend to bring their best against G5 opponents if nothing is really on the line. A G5 program against a team that is down because they just missed out on the playoffs. Maybe this game is watchable?
Rose Bowl Game: Utah Utes vs Penn State Nittany Lions – This drama going on between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Rose Bowl is bizarre. First, we see reports from The Athletic that the Rose Bowl is likely to pass on Ohio State in favor of Penn State because the Buckeyes didn’t sell out their allotment of tickets last year and they have developed a reputation for having several opt-outs. Then come the reports from Columbus that it was Ohio State that asked the Rose Bowl not to take them.
Then USC had to trip up and ruin everything. Now Ohio State won’t even be eligible, as they will probably be in the playoffs. You know who else lost Friday in California? Washington. The Huskies were more than likely going to get the nod over Oregon and Utah to play in the Rose Bowl if USC had won. Now Utah gets the automatic spot in the Rose, and the open NY6 spot is in the Cotton. I think the Cotton is much more likely to pick TCU because of their higher ranking and proximity. Sorry Washington, maybe next year.