Friday, October 7, 2022

Bowl projections: Pac-12 takes major College Football Playoff hit as Georgia, Florida flex in Week 1

Saturday was not a good day for the Pac-12, especially when it concerns its chances of putting a team in the College Football Playoff. No. 11 Oregon got its doors blown off by No. 3 Georgia, 49-3 in Atlanta. A few hours later, No. 7 Utah lost a would-be resume-builder, falling 29-26 to Florida in The Swamp.

There are not many realistic scenarios where the Ducks can climb to No. 4 with that loss to the Bulldogs on their resume. It isn’t so much the opponent as the margin of defeat. Oregon could end up at the bottom of the list of one-loss teams and get ranked behind some two-loss teams even if it finishes 12-1.

Given the Gators are not expected to be SEC contenders this season — though that could change — the Utes’ loss is a sore spot as well. That does not mean it’s a terrible loss, but it may not measure up well against losses by other potential contenders at season’s end. Still, I project Utah to repeat as Pac-12 champions and play in the Rose Bowl against projected Big Ten opponent Michigan.

USC is still in the hunt, of course. The No. 14 Trojans dispatched Rice 66-14 in the debut of coach Lincoln Riley, quarterback Caleb Williams and wide receiver Jordan Addison. They are certainly going to be the highest-rated Pac-12 team in this week’s top 25 polls.

No. 2 Ohio State’s win over No. 5 Notre Dame ensured that there would be no change to the College Football Playoff portion of the bowl projections. The Buckeyes remain as the No. 2 seed this week. The other three teams played overmatched opponents in Week 1, though as noted, one of those overmatched opponents was Oregon. Georgia certainly sent a message that it is not giving up its title easily.

The other New Year’s Six games are unchanged as well given Utah remaining remains projected to defend its Pac-12 title, Clemson is a heavy favorite over Georgia Tech on Monday night, and there were no other losses among those teams that had not already been anticipated.

College Football Playoff

Jan. 9

National Championship

Inglewood, Calif.

Title game Semifinal winners

Dec. 31

Peach Bowl



(1) Alabama vs. (4) Oklahoma

Dec. 31

Fiesta Bowl

Glendale, Ariz.


(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Georgia

New Year’s Six bowl games

Jan. 2


Pasadena, Calif.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Michigan vs. Utah

Jan. 2


Arlington, Tex.

at-large vs. at-large

USC vs. Cincinnati

Dec. 31


New Orleans

SEC vs. Big 12

Texas A&M vs. Baylor

Dec. 30




Clemson vs. Notre Dame

Two teams among the contenders for the Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six took losses this weekend. No. 23 Cincinnati, a playoff participant last season, fell by seven to No. 19 Arkansas. That is unlikely to hurt the Bearcats much in the rankings because the defeat came to a quality, ranked opponent on the road. Cincinnati is still projected to the Cotton Bowl as the top Group of Five team at season’s end.

Boise State’s 34-17 loss at Oregon State will be more damaging to the Broncos’ New Year’s Six chances. Bose State was not competitive in that game, and it will be harder for it to recover from that defeat. The Broncos level of play will have to ramp up regardless if they hope to compete in a tough Mountain West this season.

There are seven teams projected to finish the season 5-7 in this week’s bowl projections. That is up two from the preseason projection. Nebraska and Boston College are those new projected 5-7 teams. Additionally, given its loss to Florida State in the opener, LSU has fallen completely out of the bowl projections.

Don’t see your team? Check out the rest of Jerry Palm’s bowl projections after Week 1.

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