College Football Playoff projections heading into Week 8. The nation’s best teams continue to clear hurdles on their way to potential semifinal berths.
Semifinal No. 1 – Fiesta Bowl
Date: Dec. 31
Location: Glendale, Arizona
Tie-ins: CFP No. 2/CFP No. 3
Fiesta Bowl Projection: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson
The Buckeyes moved up from No. 3 to No. 2 this week after last Saturday’s victory over Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium. Urban Meyer’s squad is now preparing for a second straight night game on the road, as Penn State is the next team up looking to knock off the Buckeyes. In the win over the Badgers, quarterback J.T. Barrett spread the ball around, completing passes to eight different receivers. Barrett also ran for two touchdowns in addition to hitting Noah Brown for a seven-yard touchdown pass in overtime. As long as the Buckeyes keep winning, they are on path for a CFP berth.
Dabo Swinney’s squad survived NC State’s upset bid, as the Tigers won 24-17 in overtime when cornerback Marcus Edmond picked off Ryan Finley’s throw in the end zone on the Wolfpack’s first offensive play of overtime. Prior to the extra frame, NC State missed a 33-yard field goal that would have essentially knocked the Tigers out of the CFP race. It was the third of three missed field goals for the Wolfpack. While Clemson played a mistake-filled game, Swinney’s team battled through adversity and showed its championship mettle. After a bye week, the Tigers will travel to Tallahassee to face ACC Atlantic division foe Florida State, which will be looking to play the role of spoiler.
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
The Crimson Tide destroyed Tennessee in all three phases of the game last week, once again showing that they can score non-offensive touchdowns almost at will. Nick Saban’s squad is now preparing for perhaps its biggest SEC test yet, as Texas A&M comes to Tuscaloosa. Alabama appears to be in a league of its own right now, so we’ll see how the Aggies O-Line can hold up against that ‘Bama defensive front. In addition, Aggies signal-caller Trevor Knight will have to replicate his performance from the first time he faced the Tide. As a member of Oklahoma’s team, he completed 32 of 44 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-31 Sugar Bowl win following the 2013 season.
Chris Petersen’s squad enjoyed a bye last week following its 70-21 annihilation of Oregon to snap its 12-game losing streak to the Ducks. Up next for the Huskies is Oregon State, which has been playing better football the last few Saturdays but should still be overmatched against the Huskies. U-Dub’s next real test will be at Utah, which plays a physical brand of football and has been a tough “out” in the Pac-12 under Kyle Whittingham.