The college football regular season is over. With that, the field of bowl teams is set. However, there are still conference championship games to help decide the College Football Playoff and what teams go to what bowl games.
There were several teams who became bowl eligible during the final week of the regular season. That, very notably, included James Madison and Jacksonville State. Previously, the NCAA had denied their waiver to allow them to become bowl eligible early. However, with not enough teams becoming bowl eligible, now both teams are for this season.
Ahead of the conference championship games, CBS Sports has released its predictions for the College Football Playoff and every conference championship game.
Georgia capped off another unbeaten regular season against rival Georgia Tech on Saturday. With that win, the Bulldogs broke the record for most consecutive wins by an SEC team with 29. Attempting to win a third national title in a row, Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs know that it doesn’t mean anything without another ring.
That hunt for a third straight national championship continues with the SEC Championship Game. There, Georgia will take on Alabama. In a crowded Playoff field this season, there is a chance that the Bulldogs may miss the Playoff entirely with a loss. So, it’s vital to keep on winning.
Michigan won The Game on Saturday, moving onto the Big Ten Championship Game. A heavy favorite to beat Iowa and win the Big Ten, the win over Ohio State likely ended the Buckeyes’ Playoff hopes while securing Michigan’s trip to the Playoff. At the same time, Michigan won without head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Now, Harbaugh’s suspension is over and he’ll be back on the sideline. It’s hard to say how that’s going to change the Wolverines moving forward. However, it is clear they’re one of the most dominant teams in the country this season.
Florida State is the subject of much debate. The Seminoles finished the regular season unbeaten but without quarterback Jordan Travis. In turn, that’s led to questions about whether or not the Seminoles should get into the Playoff at all without their star quarterback.
If Florida State wins the ACC Championship Game, the Seminoles have a good chance to get into the Playoff. However, that won’t be easy against Louisville. Ultimately, the key is going to be how much backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker is able to step up moving forward.
4. Oregon Ducks
Oregon would likely need some help to make the Playoff. That starts with the Ducks helping themselves. Oregon has one loss this season, against Washington. Next week, the Ducks play the Huskies in the Pac-12 Championship Game, getting a chance to earn a top-5 win and avenge their only loss in the process.
In a crowded Playoff field, Oregon could still use some help. However, a win would put the Ducks in a good spot. That’s especially true when considering how exceptional the offense has been under quarterback Bo Nix since the loss to Washington in mid-October.
Texas is one of several teams that is making the Playoff field crowded. The Longhorns will need to win the Big 12 Championship Game, first, though. On top of that, Texas is probably going to need to get help in the form of some upset losses ahead of them.
The Group of Five Champion is the highest ranked conference champion out of the AAC, Sun Belt, Mountain West, C-USA, or the MAC. Right now, assuming they win the AAC, that looks like it will be Tulane for a second straight season. If not, there could be some chaos there, though.
Orange Bowl: Louisville vs. Ohio State
Louisville thought it still had a shot at the College Football Playoff going into the final week of the regular season. Then the Cardinals lost to rival Kentucky and some air came out of the sails. Still, Louisville is heading to the ACC Championship Game. It is already a phenomenal season that could get better from here.
On the other side of this prediction is Ohio State. The Buckeyes lost The Game, which likely knocked the Buckeyes out of Playoff contention. Still, there are scenarios where Ohio State could make it. At the same time, a New Year’s Six Bowl seems more likely at this point.
Peach Bowl: Missouri vs. Penn State
Missouri has had a phenomenal season. For a while, it went under the radar but the Tigers won’t be surprising anyone at this point in the season. The Tigers aren’t playing for the SEC Championship Game at this point, but it does look like Missouri is going to be heading to a NY6 bowl this season.
Likewise, Penn State isn’t playing for its conference championship and did a little too much losing to compete for the CFP. However, it was still a very good season in Happy Valley. In turn, the Nittany Lions are expected to get a bid to one of the biggest bowl games.
Cotton Bowl: Washington vs. Alabama
Perhaps no team that CBS is predicting to finish outside of the College Football Playoff has a better chance of getting into the CFP than Washington. After all, the undefeated Huskies are currently ranked in the top four by the selection committee. Win the Pac-12 and, seemingly, Washington should be in, especially as it would prove the Oregon win wasn’t a fluke.
Then, Alabama kept its Playoff hopes alive with a late Iron Bowl win. From here, the Crimson Tide need to beat Georgia. However, if Alabama does pull off that upset, then the Crimson Tide have a strong CFP argument and could create chaos at the top of the standings.
Remaining bowl game projections
SATURDAY, Dec. 16
MONDAY, Dec. 18
There are going to be changes to where teams end up thanks to conference championship week. Teams will rise and fall in the Playoff rankings. That means the current top four is going to be different than the final rankings, and it will likely even be different than the predicted rankings.