What the CFP and New Year’s Six would look like if they were played today
There hasn’t been any drama — not yet.
With No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Notre Dame undefeated, the 13 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee had it fairly easy at the top this week, as No. 4 Michigan quietly joined the top four Tuesday as many had expected.
SEC East champion Georgia is now on the bubble, while No. 6 Oklahoma remains the Big 12’s highest-ranked team, followed by No. 7 LSU, which suffered its second loss of the season Saturday to Alabama but dropped only four spots.
For all of the talk about how weak the ACC is this season, the Atlantic Division has four teams ranked, as No. 13 Syracuse, No. 14 NC State and No. 17 Boston College all joined Clemson. The selection committee clearly values Clemson’s strength of schedule, and the Tigers have another opportunity Saturday to punctuate their résumé by clinching the division with a victory over BC.
It was even Groundhog Day for No. 8 Washington State, which remains the Pac-12’s only one-loss and highest-ranked team, and UCF, which remained status quo at No. 12.
Here’s how the bracket would look today:
No. 1 Alabama would face No. 4 Michigan in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, because the committee won’t put the No. 1 seed at any geographic disadvantage, and while marginal, Arlington, Texas, is slightly closer to Tuscaloosa than Miami, where No. 2 Clemson would face No. 3 Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl.
The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual is a contract bowl and historically guarantees the Big Ten champ against the Pac-12 champ. Since No. 4 Michigan is the projected conference champion and already in a semifinal, the next highest-ranked Big Ten team would be No. 10 Ohio State. The Buckeyes would face No. 8 Washington State, the projected Pac-12 champ.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl is also a contract bowl, guaranteed the Big 12 champ and the SEC champ. Since the SEC champion, in this case No. 1 Alabama, is in a semifinal, the Sugar Bowl would get the next-highest-ranked SEC team, which is No. 5 Georgia. The Bulldogs would play No. 6 Oklahoma, which is the projected Big 12 champion in this ranking.
No. 12 UCF would likely head to the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl as the highest-ranked champion from a Group of 5 conference, which is guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl, instead of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where it played last season. The Knights would face No. 7 LSU, based on fan interest and matchup.
The Peach Bowl would then have No. 9 West Virginia and No. 11 Kentucky, as they are the highest-ranked remaining teams and would also be chosen based on fan interest, geography and matchup.
(All games can be seen on ESPN and the ESPN App)
Saturday, Dec. 29
Noon ET: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 11 Kentucky vs. No. 9 West Virginia (Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta)
4 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 1 Alabama (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas)
8 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Clemson (Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida)
Tuesday, Jan. 1
1 p.m. ET: PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: No. 12 UCF vs. No. 7 LSU (State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona)
5 p.m. ET: Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual: No. 8 Washington State vs. No. 10 Ohio State (Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California)
8:45 p.m. ET: Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Georgia (Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans)
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