There were no major changes to my projected lineup this week. I have a feeling that’s going to change after the games of Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Four in particular -- Stanford-Washington in the Pac-12, TCU-Oklahoma in the Big 12, Wisconsin-Michigan in the Big Ten and Louisville-Clemson in the ACC -- could reshape those leagues’ respective races.
Peach (playoff semifinal): Alabama vs. Stanford
Date: Dec. 31 -- Atlanta
Bowl affiliation: CFP No. 1 vs. CFP No. 4
Stanford’s last-second win at UCLA gave me renewed confidence in this pick. Having said that, the Cardinal may very well have an L on their resume after Friday’s game at Washington, at which point I’d have to reevaluate.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
Fiesta (playoff semifinal): Ohio State vs. Louisville
Date: Dec. 31 -- Glendale, Arizona
Bowl affiliation: CFP No. 2 vs. CFP No. 3
Similarly, I have a sneaking suspicion that Clemson will come alive and take down Louisville this weekend, but the Cardinals may still be my ACC playoff pick. Because I still see a three-way tie for first in the Atlantic Division as a possibility.
Rose: Michigan vs. Washington
Date: Jan. 2 -- Pasadena, California
Bowl affiliation: Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Coming into the season I felt Ohio State and Michigan were the best teams in the Big Ten, Stanford and Washington the best in the Pac-12. My opinion hasn’t changed yet, though Wisconsin or Nebraska may well wind up here instead.
Getty ImagesOtto Greule Jr
Sugar: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
Date: Jan. 2 -- New Orleans
Bowl affiliation: SEC vs. Big 12
Texas A&M cemented its status as the SEC’s second-best team with a runaway win over Arkansas in Arlington, though Tennessee could be in play as well. We may get more clarity on the Big 12 side after Saturday’s TCU-Oklahoma game.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY SportsTim Heitman
Cotton: Tennessee vs. Houston
Date: Jan. 2 -- Arlington, Texas
Bowl affiliation: at-large vs. at-large
With their comeback against Florida, the Vols renewed my confidence they can win 10 games and capture the SEC East title. That should be enough to qualify for a New Year’s Six bowl, maybe even the Sugar or Orange.
Orange: Clemson vs. Wisconsin
Date: Dec. 30 -- Miami
Bowl affiliation: ACC vs. SEC/Big Ten/ND
It was a toss-up whether to pick Wisconsin or Nebraska as the Big Ten’s presumptive West Division champ and likely No. 3 team. The Badgers play a tougher schedule, which may work against them or may impress the committee.