Thanks to a topsy-turvy Week 11 that saw three of the nation’s top four teams fall, the outlook for the CFP playoff and New Year’s Day bowl games has been drastically altered. While things could still change for several teams before the end of the season, I’ve got a great idea of just which teams will likely appear in specific bowl games this postseason.
Let’s find out now the latest college football spreads and where the nation’s top title contenders will likely be playing come bowl season.
2016 College Football Predictions: Who’s In And Out Of New Year’s Day Bowl Games?
Bowl Game – Date – Location – Matchup – Projection
Peach Bowl (CFB Semifinal) – Dec. 31 – Atlanta – TBD – Alabama vs. Wisconsin
Analysis: Right now, the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide look like they could face Wisconsin if the Badgers can win the Big Ten title that is. I’m even going to give Wisconsin a slight chance to pull off the upset since I picked the Badgers to really contend for the national championship this season.
Fiesta Bowl (CFB Semifinal) – Dec. 31 – Glendale, Ariz. – TBD – Ohio State vs. Clemson
If they both win out from this point, the fifth-ranked Clemson Tigers should get back in the four-team playoff opposite n Ohio State team that could give the Big ten two playoff teams. Lest anyone forget, I picked Deshaun Watson and company to, not only make back-to-back national championship game appearances, but to win it all this time around.
Orange Bowl – Dec. 30 – Miami – ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND – Louisville vs. Michigan
While I currently have No. 3 Louisville set to participate in the 2016 Orange Bowl, I think it’s quite possible the Cardinals could still make a push for the CFB playoff – if they win out and Clemson loses another game. If the Cardinals meet opposite currently fourth-ranked Michigan, I’m going with the unstoppable Lamar Jackson to get it done!
Cotton Bowl – Jan. 2 – Arlington, Texas – TBD – Western Michigan vs. Penn State
Western Michigan may not have the big-name recognition of some other national title contenders on this list, but they’re very talented and could actually beat some of the other contenders on this list. As far as my beloved Penn State Nittany Lions are concerned, I’m just thrilled to see the program back on the national map. If you didn’t know, the Nittany Lions have a pair of flat-out stars in quarterback Trace McSorely and running back Saquon Barkley.
Rose Bowl – Jan. 2 – Pasadena, Calif. – Big Ten vs. Pac-12 – Nebraska vs. Washington
If this pairing takes place between the currently seventh-ranked Washington Huskies and 19th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, I’m thinking Washington is the easy pick to win!
Sugar Bowl – Jan. 2 – New Orleans – SEC vs. Big 12 – LSU vs. Oklahoma
LSU apparently made a smart decision by firing former head coach Les Miles and now they’ve got the look of a New Year’s Day bowl participant. Oklahoma would like nothing better than to get another shot in the four-team playoff, but I don’t see it happening, although the Sooners are to be commended for their hellacious non-conference schedule this season.
Of course, outside of a sure-fire playoff berth for Alabama, each and every single bowl game matchup that I just offered up is completely hypothetical, seeing as how multitude of scenarios can still play out come conference championship time. The loss of starting quarterback Wilton Speight could derail Michigan’s playoff chances and I still believe Washington and Louisville should both be given legitimate playoff hopes although I suspect they won’t because of the competition they’ve played this season.
The outcome of the Big Ten conference championship will also figure prominently into which team or teams represent arguably the most the competitive conference in the country. In the end, it’s going to be an interesting few weeks no matter which quartet of teams is selected for the second ever College Football Playoff.