The College Football Playoff matchups are almost set. But there’s one final week of games to go — and things could get crazy.
Check out my predictions below, including for the CFP semifinals, New Year’s Six games and also the final Top 25. This story will be updated as games go final this weekend. Click or tap here for the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s official rankings, how they work and more about the CFP.
College Football Playoff rankings predictions: Final Top 25
Here’s a look at how I think the last CFP rankings will look on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. Teams with projected results in Week 16 are marked with an asterisk.
- Alabama* (projected win vs. Florida): The Tide are an SEC Championship Game win away from likely cementing the top ranking.
- Clemson* (projected win vs. Notre Dame): Here’s thinking Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and the rest of the Tigers win the rematch with Notre Dame.
- Ohio State* (projected win vs. Northwestern): A Buckeyes win against Northwestern could move them up to third and away from meeting Alabama in the semifinal.
- Notre Dame* (projected loss to Clemson): The Irish might be safely into the CFP even with a loss — as long as it isn’t a complete blowout.
- Texas A&M* (projected win vs. Tennessee): The Aggies could use a dominant win against Tennessee and some chaos in front of them. Maybe Notre Dame finds away to knock out Clemson from consideration?
- Oklahoma* (projected win vs. Iowa State): Surging Oklahoma may have a ceiling here at No. 6, but who knows?
- Cincinnati* (projected win vs. Tulsa): The Bearcats dropped down to No. 9 in the most recent rankings, but a win against currently ranked Tulsa should help.
- Georgia (7-2): UGA’s regular season is over after the cancelation of the Vanderbilt game.
- Indiana (6-1): IU won’t play Purdue this weekend and now awaits what should be a great bowl bid.
- Iowa State* (projected loss to Oklahoma): The CFP has the Cyclones up to No. 6 this week. If they do beat Oklahoma, could they surprise on Sunday?
- USC* (projected win vs. Oregon): Of the Trojans’ five wins, three are by a total of 10 points. At the very least, USC delivers with exciting games.
- Coastal Carolina (11-0): The Sun Belt title game against Louisiana has been canceled (COVID-19 positive test and contact tracing).
- Florida* (projected loss to Alabama): The Gators may score some touchdowns, but it’s difficult seeing Florida stopping Alabama.
- North Carolina (8-3): UNC closed its regular season with a 62-26 rout of Miami.
- Iowa (6-2): The Hawkeyes’ matchup with Michigan has been canceled.
- BYU (10-1): The Cougars will play UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 22.
- Miami (8-2): Miami’s regular season is over.
- Northwestern*: Northwestern would certainly throw a wrench into anticipated bowl expectations if it shocks Ohio State.
- Louisiana (9-1): The Sun Belt title game against Coastal Carolina has been canceled (COVID-19 positive test and contact tracing).
- Texas (6-3): Texas’ regular season is over.
- Oklahoma State (7-3): The Cowboys’ regular season is over.
- San Jose State*: The undefeated Spartans play Boise State in the Mountain West Championship Game in Las Vegas.
- NC State (8-3): The Wolfpack’s regular season is over.
- Colorado (4-1): The Buffaloes’ regular season is over.
- Buffalo*: A win in the MAC title game could vault the Buffaloes into the rankings.
College Football Playoff rankings predictions: Semifinals
Here’s what I think the CFP will be come Sunday:
- No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Notre Dame
- No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Ohio State
Look familiar? These teams held the top four spots in each of the previous CFP rankings this season. And three of these teams — Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State — are the most frequent semifinal participants. If these four make the CFP, Alabama and Clemson would have the most CFP appearances at six apiece, while Ohio State would tie Oklahoma for the third most at four bids. This would be Notre Dame’s second appearance.
If the ACC Championship Game is close, there’s a chance these four make up the CFP no matter that game’s winner. The order would likely change, however.
Going by the latest CFP rankings on Dec. 15, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 6 Iowa State and No. 7 Florida are the biggest threats to this foursome. A&M plays 3-6 Tennessee on Saturday as Iowa State faces No. 10 Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game and the Gators meet top-ranked Alabama. That could make it difficult for the Aggies to have a strong final statement, even if they go 8-1 and are compared with, say, a two-loss, Big 12 champ Iowa State or 9-2 Clemson.
College Football Playoff rankings predictions: New Year’s Six games
As usual, the College Football Playoff gets the most attention, but there’s plenty of drama for the New Year’s Six games. Plenty can (and possibly will) change depending on how some of the conference championship games end. But at the same time, a handful of team likely up for consideration have finished their regular seasons.
BOWL SCHEDULE: The complete TV listings, times for all bowl games
As we saw last week with Florida’s shocking home loss to LSU, crazy things can happen.
- Cotton Bowl (Dec. 30): Oklahoma vs. Florida
- Peach Bowl (Jan. 1): Georgia vs. Cincinnati
- Rose Bowl (Jan. 1 — CFP Semifinals): Clemson vs. Ohio State
- Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1 — CFP Semifinals): Alabama vs. Notre Dame
- Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 2): USC vs. Indiana
- Orange Bowl (Jan. 2): North Carolina vs. Texas A&M