There is one week left in the 2023 regular season before conference championship week. With that, there is a pretty clear picture of both the College Football Playoff and Bowl season. With that in mind, there is also still time for things to change and change in potentially huge ways.
Week 12 saw several more teams become bowl-eligible while others solidified themselves in the hunt for either a New Year’s Six Bowl or the College Football Playoff. Now, with only rivalry week remaining, teams are looking to secure bids to their respective conference championship games and really make a push in the last minutes of the season.
With all of that in mind, CBS Sports released its predictions for both the College Football Playoff and every single bowl game of bowl season.
At this point in the season, Georgia is a clear number one. Earlier, there could be an argument that the two-time defending national champions had played a weak schedule and weren’t overly impressive against that schedule. Now, after winning three straight top-25 games, nobody has anything but praise for the Bulldogs.
Georgia has a date with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. A win would mean relative chalk from the SEC. A loss, however, would likely throw the entire College Football Playoff into chaos. Before that, though, the Bulldogs can’t overlook rival Georgia Tech.
Whether or not the Michigan Wolverines make the College Football Playoff will likely be decided this upcoming weekend. After playing a close game against Maryland and earning the program’s 1,000th win, Michigan is now getting ready to play Ohio State. Winner goes to the Big Ten Championship Game while the loser won’t have won their division in a crowded field.
All of this comes amid the ever growing sign-stealing scandal at Michigan. On the Friday before the Maryland game, Michigan accepted the three-game suspension for Jim Harbaugh. Linebackers coach Chris Partridge was also dismissed for attempting to cover up evidence. It’s hard to imagine that hasn’t become some kind of distraction for the Wolverines.
Florida State got its 11th win on Saturday. However, the Seminoles also suffered a massive loss. Star quarterback Jordan Travis suffered a catastrophic leg injury and isn’t going to be there for the Seminoles’ ACC Championship Game and potential College Football Playoff run. Instead, the Seminoles will turn to backup quarterback, Tate Rodemaker.
For now, CBS Sports is still predicting that Florida State will make the Playoff. However, with Travis injured, there is a very real chance that the Seminoles either lose a game or simply get punished as a team for his injury in a crowded field. In that case, the Seminoles easily could get left out.
4. Oregon Ducks
The Oregon Ducks lost to the Washington Huskies. Despite that, CBS Sports is predicting that the Ducks make it into the Playoff over the Huskies. That’s largely because of how dominant Oregon has been since that loss, while the Huskies have struggled at times. Oregon will also, likely, get another shot at Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
First, Oregon needs to avoid getting upset by Oregon State. That would throw a massive wrench in their plans to make the Playoff. However, assuming the Ducks make the Pac-12 Championship Game, they could easily create chaos ahead of the College Football Playoff’s final rankings.
The Texas Longhorns still want to make the College Football Playoff, and it is still possible they do so. However, amid a series of close games, it looks less and less likely the Longhorns get in without some help. Still, there is a shot and it looks like Texas is going to at least make a New Year’s Six Bowl.
On the other side of this is Tulane, who CBS is predicting to be the Group of Five representative in the NY6. The Green Wave held that role last season, beating USC in the Cotton Bowl. First, however, Tulane will need to win the AAC to hold onto that spot, or else it will be anyone’s to earn.
Orange Bowl: Louisville vs. Ohio State
There is still a logical path for Louisville to make the College Football Playoff. It’s definitely a longshot and would require a lot of help from other teams losing, but the path is there. It would, of course, at least require the Cardinals to win out and win the ACC. At the very least, though, Louisville looks destined for one of the NY6 games.
On the other side, Ohio State has a very clear path to the Playoff. Win and they’re in. In the Buckeyes’ way is rival Michigan. Assuming a win there, Ohio State will take on Iowa. Winning those games would almost assuredly clinch a Playoff spot for the Buckeyes this season.
Peach Bowl: Missouri vs. Penn State
There are few teams who have had seasons as surprisingly good as the Missouri Tigers. With one week left, Missouri won’t play for the SEC Championship, but the Tigers easily could be and probably should be heading to the New Year’s Six. It’s been a phenomenal season and it’s players like Luther Burden who have made it possible.
Penn State, on the other hand, has had a frustrating season relative to expectations. Once again, the Nittany Lions couldn’t get over the Ohio State and Michigan hump. Even with a five-star quarterback in Drew Allar, the offense has struggled to create big plays and head coach James Franklin has already moved on from offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich.
Cotton Bowl: Washington vs. Alabama
Washington is having its best start since winning the national championship in 1991. The goal is to win out and make it to the College Football Playoff. However, the Huskies have all but assured themselves of a spot in the New Year’s Six behind the elite play of quarterback Michael Penix.
As for Alabama, the Crimson Tide have hit their stride after a slow start to the season. Again, this is largely because of the play of quarterback Jalen Milroe. The path for Alabama to the Playoff is less clear and includes mandatory wins in the Iron Bowl and SEC Championship Game, but it’s also not out of the question at this point.
Remaining bowl game projections
SATURDAY, Dec. 16
MONDAY, Dec. 18
With one week in the regular season left, perceptions around the College Football Playoff could still change quickly. There are several key rivalry games and all it takes is one upset to shake things up in a very tight race for the Playoff. In particular, The Game between Michigan and Ohio State should re-shape of the season shakes out.