College Football Playoff projections heading into Week 12. There was a lot of chaos last week, but how much did it really change the postseason picture?
Semifinal No. 1 – Fiesta Bowl
Date: Dec. 31
Location: Glendale, Arizona
Tie-ins: CFP No. 2/CFP No. 3
Fiesta Bowl Projection: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Clemson
Jim Harbaugh has not had the best of luck in Iowa City. As the starting quarterback of the Wolverines in 1985, Harbaugh and Co. were ranked No. 2 and played No. 1 Iowa in one of the more memorable games in the history of Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes took home a 12-10 win on a field goal at the final whistle in that one, and it was reminiscent of what happened this past week. Hawkeyes freshman Keith Duncan kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired to stun the Wolverines with a 14-13 win. The Wolverines hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Penn State, so they are still in good shape in the Big Ten East division. And they can still have victories over Ohio State and the Big Ten West winner, which should be enough in the selection committee’s eyes to get into the CFP.
Meanwhile, Dabo Swinney’s team had found itself in many close games all season long, with sloppy play sometimes keeping inferior opponents around long enough to toy with an upset. The playing with fire finally caught up with the Tigers last week in a loss to Pitt, as the Panthers were able to steal a win at Memorial Stadium by putting pressure all day long on a struggling Clemson defense. The saving grace for the Tigers is that they should be able to get back to the CFP if they win the ACC title. The committee values conference championships, and Swinney’s squad holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Louisville, which is still hanging around with that lone loss to the Tigers. If Clemson beats Wake Forest and South Carolina before winning an ACC championship game, a 12-1 Tigers outfit still has a very good chance of getting into the CFP.
Semifinal No. 2 – Peach Bowl
Date: Dec. 31
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Tie-ins: CFP No. 1/CFP No. 4
Peach Bowl Projection: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Washington
Nick Saban’s squad continues to prove that it is the best team in the country, and the gap between the Crimson Tide and others seems to be widening little by little. Last week the Tide enjoyed a 51-3 win over Mississippi State, as Saban joined Ohio State’s Woody Hayes and Florida State’s Bobby Bowden in a tie for the most victories with a top-ranked team by any head coach. ‘Bama is now getting set to host FCS squad Chattanooga in an Iron Bowl tuneup. At this point, Saban and Co. could probably lose that game and still get into the CFP.
Meanwhile, the Huskies fell to USC at home for their first loss of the season, and the defense continues to get beat up. Defensive end and sack leader Joe Mathis had already been determined to be out for the rest of the year, while it was announced on Monday that middle linebacker Azeem Victor was also lost for the season. I wouldn’t expect U-Dub to get a lot of CFP love in this week’s rankings, but there will still be time to make up ground. The selection committee values conference champs, so a one-loss Pac-12 champ could still get in. Teams such as Ohio State and Louisville, though, could complicate matters for the Huskies. But being a conference champ should hold a lot of weight.