We know Alabama will make the four-team College Football Playoff field when it’s announced Sunday (11 a.m., ESPN). The top-ranked Crimson Tide (13-0) secured a spot with its 35-28 comeback win over No. 4 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. And we also know that No. 2 Clemson (13-0), the ACC champion, and No. 3 Notre Dame (12-0) are near locks to get in.
So, who’s the fourth?
Big 12 champion Oklahoma (No. 5, 12-1), Big Ten champion Ohio State (No. 6, 12-1) and Georgia (11-2) are the candidates. We’ll project the Sooners, based on their higher ranking than the Buckeyes and the fact that Georgia has two losses. The selection committee, however, could surprise by picking the Bulldogs, who nearly upset an Alabama team that had beaten its previous 12 opponents by an average of more than 35 points.
Here are projections for the playoff semifinals and the rest of the New Year’s Six bowls:
Cotton Bowl, Dec. 29, Arlington, Texas: No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Alabama
Orange Bowl, Dec. 29, Miami: No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Clemson
Peach, Dec. 29, Atlanta: Michigan vs. Florida
Rose, Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.: Ohio State vs. Washington
Sugar, Jan. 1, New Orleans: Georgia vs. Texas
Fiesta, Jan. 1, Glendale, Ariz.: LSU vs. Central Florida
Here are projections for the rest of the Big Ten’s bowls:
Citrus, Jan. 1, Orlando: Penn State vs. Kentucky
Outback, Jan. 1, Tampa, Fla.: Northwestern vs. Texas A&M
Holiday, Dec. 31, San Diego: Iowa vs. Oregon
Music City, Dec. 28, Nashville: Purdue vs. Mississippi State
Redbox, Dec. 31, Santa Clara, Calif.: Michigan State vs. Stanford
Pinstripe, Dec. 27, New York: Wisconsin vs. Syracuse
Quick Lane, Dec. 26, Detroit: Gophers vs. Virginia Tech
The Gophers’ destination appears to be down to three bowls — the Redbox, Pinstripe and Quick Lane. Executive directors for the Redbox and Quick Lane both said they are impressed with Minnesota, and the Pinstripe’s senior manager scouted the Gophers’ 37-15 win at Wisconsin last week.