LWOS Bowl Projections: Week 3

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01: Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes holds up the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl trophy after defeating the Fighting Irish 44-28 at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Last Word on Sports Bowl Projections: Week 3

Week 3 gave us more clarity on the front runners in the Power Five conferences. Louisville moved up in the rankings, while Florida State fell out of the Top 10. With more conference games looming this weekend, here are my bowl projections after Week 3.

College Football Playoff

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
CFP Semifinal
#1 Alabama vs. #4 Washington

Fiesta Bowl
CFP Semifinal
#2 Ohio State vs. #3 Louisville

National Championship Game
#1 Alabama vs. #2 Ohio State

I decided to move one of the Big Ten teams out of the College Football Playoff. Michigan played their first true test in Colorado (after pasting Hawai’I and UCF to open the season) and trailed 21 – 7 in the first quarter before their defense took a hold of the game.

Originally, I thought the Big Ten would get two teams in the playoff with Ohio State going 13 – 0, and Michigan finishing 11 – 1. I didn’t want to move the Buckeyes or Wolverines out until they lost to a team that wasn’t the other.

Ohio State is looking like a true playoff team, while Michigan doesn’t have a signature win like Ohio State’s win at Oklahoma. Michigan doesn’t leave The Big House until October 8, and doesn’t have a true test until Week 5 versus Wisconsin. The Wolverines final road games at Michigan State, Iowa, and Ohio State may spell doom for my one loss theory.

The Big 12 has played itself into mediocrity in the early session of the season. Ohio State dominated Oklahoma in Norman, while the California Golden Bears outlasted the Texas Longhorns in Berkeley.

Baylor and West Virginia are the lone unbeatens in the Big 12, and with the nature of the defenses across the board in the conference, one can’t have confidence in either team to run the table and give the Big 12 a real shot at the playoff.

The big winner of Week 3 was Louisville. I moved them into the New Year’s Six Bowls last week, and now they jump all the way up to the three seed in my CFP picks. Their games at Clemson and Houston are shaping into Round of 32 and Sweet 16 games, respectively, if one were to equate this to March Madness.

If they win those two games and their presumptive wins hold sway, Louisville can play in the ACC Championship Game in a de facto quarterfinal. Miami, Pitt, and North Carolina appear to be in the driver’s seat to challenge from the ACC Coastal Division.

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is running away with the Heisman Trophy as of now, and his domination of perennial power Florida State has vaulted the Cardinals into national title contention.

Washington makes their first appearance in my CFP predictions, giving the Pac-12 a new representative. We can’t glean much from the Huskies’ obliteration of Rutgers, Idaho, and Portland State. An elite team should make quick work of those teams, and the Huskies did, all at Husky Stadium. Washington opens Pac-12 play at Arizona next weekend.

Even this game may not give us any more of an inclination as to how good the Huskies truly are. The Wildcats are a step up, but haven’t impressed in getting to 2 – 1 on the season.

Friday, September 30 in Seattle versus Stanford will determine which Pac-12 North team has the fast track to the CFP. Stanford will be more battle tested, but the Cardinal can’t become one-dimensional on the road in a very hostile environment.

New Years Six Bowls

Rose Bowl
Michigan State vs. Stanford

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M

Capital One Orange Bowl
Florida State vs. Michigan

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
Clemson vs. Houston

With Washington and Ohio State in my final four, I’ve got Stanford and Michigan State meeting in the Rose Bowl as replacements.

I still have Oklahoma winning the Big 12, and with Alabama in the CFP, Texas A&M and its stout defense gets the nod for the SEC in the Sugar Bowl.

Florida State takes Louisville’s place as the top ACC team in the Orange Bowl, with Michigan getting the Big Ten’s spot. Notre Dame occupied this spot until they dropped game two at home versus Michigan State.

The Cotton Bowl pits two at large teams, likely the highest ranked Group of Five champion. If Houston can’t stop Louisville, they can still win the AAC and end up in the Cotton. Clemson’s offense has struggled at the outset, but their defense makes them a dangerous team and a good bet to give the ACC three teams in the New Year’s Six.

Bowl Season Projections

Outback Bowl
Big Ten vs. SEC
Penn State vs. Tennessee

TaxSlayer Bowl
SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten/Notre Dame
Ole Miss vs. Notre Dame           

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten/Notre Dame
Florida vs. Nebraska

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC
Wisconsin vs. Arkansas

Hyundai Sun Bowl
ACC/Notre Dame vs. PAC-12
North Carolina vs. Utah

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Big 12 vs. SEC
Oklahoma State vs. Georgia

Arizona Bowl
Mountain West vs. Sun Belt
Nevada vs. Troy

Valero Alamo Bowl
Big 12 vs. PAC-12
Texas vs. UCLA

Belk Bowl
ACC vs. SEC
Pitt vs. Auburn

Birmingham Bowl
AAC vs. SEC
Tulsa vs. Missouri

AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
Big 12 vs. SEC
Baylor vs. LSU

Foster Farms Bowl
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Indiana vs. Oregon

Russell Athletic Bowl
ACC vs. Big 12
Miami (FL) vs. TCU

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
ACC vs. Big Ten
Virginia Tech vs. Minnesota

Cactus Bowl
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
Kansas State vs. Cal

Holiday Bowl
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Iowa vs. USC

Military Bowl
AAC vs. ACC
UConn vs. NC State

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
Big Ten vs. C-USA
Texas Tech * vs. Western Kentucky

Camping World Independence Bowl
ACC vs. SEC
Georgia Tech vs. South Carolina

Quick Lane Bowl
ACC vs. Big Ten
Army * vs. Maryland

St. Petersburg Bowl
AAC vs. ACC
USF vs. Wake Forest

Hawai’i Bowl
C-USA vs. Mountain West
Old Dominion vs. Air Force

Dollar General Bowl
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Western Michigan vs. Arkansas State

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
AAC vs. Big 12
Navy vs. West Virginia

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
C-USA vs. MAC
Southern Mississippi vs. Ohio

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
MAC vs. Mountain West
Bowling Green vs. Utah State

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
BYU vs. Mountain West
BYU vs. San Diego State

Marmot Boca Raton Bowl
AAC vs. C-USA
Cincinnati vs. Marshall

Miami Beach Bowl
AAC vs. MAC
Temple vs. Northern Illinois

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
C-USA vs. Sun Belt
Middle Tennessee vs. Appalachian State

AutoNation Cure Bowl
AAC vs. Sun Belt
Memphis vs. South Alabama

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Central Michigan vs. Georgia Southern

Las Vegas Bowl
Mountain West vs. Pac-12
Boise State vs. Arizona State

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
C-USA vs. Mountain West
UTEP vs. UNLV

Welcome aboard South Carolina and Cal! The Gamecocks beat a feisty East Carolina team 20 – 15 this past weekend, moving to 2 – 1 on the season. South Carolina has at least three winnable games left on the slate, and will need an upset in a game in which they are underdogs.

Notre Dame is the biggest fall this week, slipping down to fill an ACC slot. If the Irish go 10 – 2 they can stay in the New Year’s Six. With two losses already, they cannot afford to slip any further. With their defense leaking like a faucet, matchups with Stanford, Miami (FL), and even, ahem, Army, it’s looking like three losses are a safe bet for the Golden Domers.

The aforementioned Cal Bears enter the bowl fray in my scenario after a huge win at home over Texas. The Longhorns defense gave up 507 total yards to Cal, who in turn gave up 568 to Texas. Cal needs their six wins in a hurry, as their back half includes Washington, Stanford, and UCLA.

* = Replacement team

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