College Football Playoff projections heading into Week 13. The postseason picture is starting to become a little more clear, but big games loom this weekend.
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
The Wolverines are getting ready for their annual showdown with rival Ohio State, and the stakes are about as high as they can get for both teams. With a victory, Michigan will play in the Big Ten title game with a chance to assuredly earn a College Football Playoff berth. If Ohio State wins, it may not even get to play for the league crown. However, it would be incredibly difficult for the selection committee to keep the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff with just a close road loss to Penn State, though the Nittany Lions could possibly be a two-loss Big Ten champ. Jim Harbaugh’s squad may have an issue at quarterback, though, so it will be a difficult test against a Buckeyes team that has had their share of offensive funks as well. I would expect to see plenty of Jabrill Peppers on offense this week, especially with the question mark under center.
Meanwhile, the Tigers play in-state rival South Carolina this week before taking part in the ACC title game against either Virginia Tech or North Carolina. If Dabo Swinney’s squad wins out, it will be in the College Football Playoff. The ACC title game will not be easy, though, no matter who is the opponent. UNC pushed Clemson last year in the conference championship game, while Virginia Tech’s dual-threat Jerod Evans can pose problems for the Clemson defense. Plus, the Hokies still have Bud Foster to game plan against Deshaun Watson. But winning out will get the Tigers back to the national semis.
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
One can argue that the Crimson Tide may be able to lose one of their next two games against either Auburn in the Iron Bowl or Florida in the SEC Championship Game and still get into the College Football Playoff. That’s how wide the gap is between Nick Saban’s squad and every other team. We’ll see what type of challenge the Tigers and Gators are able to present to ‘Bama over the next two games, but it would be stunning to see the Tide lose their No. 1 ranking and Peach Bowl slot at this point.
Meanwhile, Chris Petersen’s Huskies should absolutely have a strong case for the College Football Playoff if they finish strong and take care of business against Washington State in the Apple Cup as well as the Pac-12 Championship Game. But U-Dub may need some help to feel 100 percent confident. The Big Ten could have some say in whether Washington gets in, as Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State are still alive and well in the mix. There is a scenario in which we could have a potential one-loss Pac-12 champion Washington, a one-loss Ohio State with a strong resume but no conference championship and a Big Ten titlist Penn State with two losses. Stay tuned.