Who gets the 4th playoff spot — Alabama or Ohio State? Here are our CFP, bowl projections

final bowl projections
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State’s victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game has added a heck of a lot of intrigue – or, if you prefer, controversy – to the selection of the four-team College Football Playoff field.

Conference champions Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma are safely in the field. Wisconsin, which had been No. 4 in last week’s rankings but lost the Big Ten championship game, is out. That means the final spot will come down to Alabama (11-1), which was fifth in last week’s rankings, and Ohio State (11-2), which beat Wisconsin for the Big Ten title but was No. 8 in last week’s rankings.

The biggest issues with each team:

Alabama: The Tide didn’t even win its division, losing the tiebreaker in the SEC West to Auburn. In addition, there is a lack of marquee wins. The Tide’s best victory is over LSU.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have lost twice, including an incredibly unsightly beatdown at the hands of Iowa – that’s five-loss Iowa. The Hawkeyes beat the Buckeyes by 31 points. The other loss is to Oklahoma. But Ohio State does have the conference title and owns wins over Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin. Penn State and Wisconsin will finish in the final CFP top 10; LSU won’t be in the top 15.

Our four projected playoff teams: Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio State.

By the way: Wisconsin’s loss means there are zero Power Five teams who are unbeaten. The only unbeaten team nationally is UCF (12-0), the AAC champ.

Here’s a look at all the bowl projections. All times listed are Eastern.


Rose Bowl

Site: Pasadena, Calif.
Date: January 1
Time/TV: 5 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Playoff semifinal.
Projection: Georgia vs. Oklahoma

Sugar Bowl

Site: New Orleans
Date: January 1
Time/TV: 8:45 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Playoff semifinal.
Projection: Clemson vs. Ohio State

National championship game

Site: Atlanta
Date: January 8
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Semifinal winners
Projection: Clemson vs. Oklahoma


New Orleans Bowl

Site: New Orleans
Date: December 16
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Sun Belt
Projection: North Texas vs. Troy

Cure Bowl

Site: Orlando
Date: December 16
Time/TV: 2:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Matchup: AAC vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Marshall vs. Georgia State
Note: Projection is that AAC won’t be able to fill its slot.

Las Vegas Bowl

Site: Las Vegas
Date: December 16
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m., ABC
Matchup: Mountain West vs. Pac-12
Projection: Boise State vs. Arizona

New Mexico Bowl

Site: Albuquerque
Date: December 16
Time/TV: 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mountain West
Projection: Western Kentucky vs. Colorado State

Camellia Bowl

Site: Montgomery, Ala.
Date: December 16
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: MAC vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Akron vs. Arkansas State

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