Week 8 bowl projections: College Football Playoff picture could get really, really messy

Coming off one of the more upset-laden weekends in recent memory, college football took a chill-pill this past Saturday as almost every ranked team survived and advanced during Week 8. We can thank a pretty sleepy schedule for that.

The lone exception was USC, which saw its College Football Playoff hopes obliterated by a very good Notre Dame team whose resume is getting stronger as the season wears on. The same goes for Georgia, which won at Notre Dame during Week 2 and looks like one of several teams deserving of a Playoff berth at this point.

That’s what’ll make the stretch run of 2017 so interesting: We potentially could have eight elite 1-loss teams vying for three Playoff spots if Ohio State, Clemson, Oklahoma/Oklahoma State and Washington win out, in addition to Georgia and Notre Dame. If and when that happens, and a handful of good teams get left out, you  know the immediate reaction will be screams for an expanded Playoff. Can’t wait!

Anyways, with Week 8 in the books, here is how DieHards has the Playoff and bowl season shaking out:

Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1, New Orleans) — CFP #1 Alabama #4 Clemson Top 4, Playoff rankings
Rose Bowl (Jan. 1, Pasadena) — CFP #2 Ohio State #3 Georgia Top 4, Playoff rankings
Peach Bowl (Jan. 1, Atlanta) — NY6 TCU UCF At-large vs. at-large
Orange Bowl (Dec. 30, Miami) — NY6 Penn State Miami SEC/Big Ten/ND vs. ACC #1
Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 30, Glendale) — NY6 Oklahoma State Washington At-large vs. at-large
Cotton Bowl (Dec. 29, Arlington) — NY6 Notre Dame Wisconsin At-large vs. at-large
Wild Wings Bowl (Jan. 1, Orlando) LSU Virginia Tech SEC #2 vs. ACC/Big Ten
Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, Tampa) Auburn Michigan State SEC #3-8 vs. Big Ten #3-4
TaxSlayer Bowl (Dec. 30, Jacksonville) Texas A&M Florida State SEC #3-8 vs. ACC/Big Ten
Liberty Bowl (Dec. 30, Memphis) South Carolina Texas Tech SEC #3-8 vs. Big 12 #5
Music City Bowl (Dec. 29, Nashville) Kentucky Iowa SEC #3-8 vs. ACC/Big Ten
Belk Bowl (Dec. 29, Charlotte) Florida Georgia Tech SEC #3-8 vs. ACC #4-7
Sun Bowl (Dec. 29, El Paso) Louisville Oregon ACC #4-7 vs. Pac-12 #5
Alamo Bowl (Dec. 28, San Antonio) Oklahoma USC Big 12 #2 vs. Pac-12 #2
Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28, San Diego) Michigan Stanford Big Ten #3-4 vs. Pac-12 #3
Camping World Bowl (Dec. 28, Orlando) N.C. State West Virginia ACC #3 vs. Big 12 #3
Military Bowl (Dec. 28, Annapolis) Syracuse Navy ACC #8-10 vs. American
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27, Houston) Mississippi State Texas SEC #3-8 vs. Big 12 #4
Foster Farms Bowl (Dec. 27, Santa Clara) Purdue Washington St. Big Ten #5-7 vs. Pac-12 #4
Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 27, New York) Virginia Northwestern ACC #4-7 vs. Big Ten #5-7
Independence Bowl (Dec. 27, Shreveport) Vanderbilt Louisiana Tech** SEC #10 vs. ACC #8-10
Cactus Bowl (Dec. 26, Tempe) Kansas State Arizona State Big 12 #5 vs. Pac-12 #7
Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 26, Detroit) Indiana Duke Big Ten #8-9 vs. ACC #8-10
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dec. 26, Dallas) Iowa State UTSA Big 12 #6 vs. C-USA
Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 23, Fort Worth) Arizona** Army Big Ten #8-9 vs. Army
Birmingham Bowl (Dec. 23, Birmingham) Tennessee Memphis SEC #9 vs. American
Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 16, Las Vegas) UCLA San Diego State Pac-12 #6 vs. MWC

**Denotes replacement team.

Notable changes after Week 8

  • The projected Playoff matchups stay the same. We dropped USC from the New Year’s Six and added Oklahoma State, which seriously can boost its resume over the next two weeks (at West Virginia and then Bedlam). Our money is on the Cowboys to win both games, despite the overtime nail-biter it just survived against Texas.
  • The Oklahoma State move affects the rest of the Big 12’s bowl pairings as a result. Oklahoma draws a super-fun Alamo Bowl matchup with USC. The Will-Grier-On-Wheels show goes to the Camping World Bowl with N.C. State — keep in mind, West Virginia only has 2 one-score losses to Virginia Tech and TCU this year. Texas moves up to face Mississippi State in the Texas Bowl and so on.
  • This leads us to the startling realization that Iowa State is absolutely bowl-bound in 2017. The Kyle Kempt-led Cyclones have a tough stretch run to navigate, with TCU, WVU and Okie State still on the docket, but a Nov. 18 clash with Baylor makes 6 wins pretty likely.
  • LSU jumps up to the Citrus, er, Wild Wings Bowl on account of three winnable games left on the schedule (Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas A&M). We shuffled a couple other SEC matchups as a result.
  • Florida … might not make a bowl? We project the Gators at 6-5 right now, with wins over Missouri, UAB and at South Carolina, but that’s a tight rope to walk. The same goes for Tennessee, which needs to win three of its final five games to hit 6-6. Yikes.
  • The surprisingly deep Pac-12 is a bit of a mess, with several teams likely to fall somewhere between 5 and 7 wins. Arizona State has picked up 2 big wins since its bye week (Washington and Utah), while Arizona suddenly is sitting at 5-2. UCLA, meanwhile, picked up a solid win against Oregon that puts the Bruins on track for 7-5.
  • UCF and USF remain the only undefeated Group of Five teams, and both look like they’ll stay that way until the two square off during Rivalry Week.

Week 8 scores that shaped the College Football Playoff race

  • Penn State 42, Michigan 13: Those who watched the Wolverines struggle to put away Indiana the week prior shouldn’t be surprised that the Nittany Lions won convincingly at home. They should be surprised, however, at Penn State rolling up 506 total yards of offense. Saquon Barkley looked every bit a Heisman contender as he romped for 108 yards and 2 scores.
  • Notre Dame 49, USC 14: We were skeptical of the Trojans before the season, despite a strong collection of talent. Injuries have played a role in their recent slide, but what the heck happened to this offense, Clay Helton? USC still can finish 10-2, but the Playoff is all but ruled out at this point.
  • Miami 27, Syracuse 19: The ‘Canes keep staying alive, somehow, thanks to quarterback Malik Rosier and a surprisingly good defense. Miami gets UNC before it has to face Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in back-to-back weeks.
  • Oklahoma 42, Kansas State 35: Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield is that dude, but his defense is allowing 5.54 yards per play (60th in FBS). In four conference games, that number rises to 6.4 yards per play. We’re not so sure Oklahoma can keep living like this, especially with TCU and Oklahoma State still on tap.
  • Oklahoma 13, Texas 10 (OT): Hey, look, another top-10 struggle win! In fairness to the Cowboys, Texas is probably a better team than K-State, which lost to Vanderbilt in Week 3. Coach Mike Gundy can use this game as fuel for a strong late-season push.

Games to watch: Week 9

All kickoff times ET.

  • Oklahoma State at West Virginia (Noon, ABC)
  • Miami at UNC (Noon, ESPN2)
  • Penn State at Ohio State (3:30 p.m., FOX)
  • Georgia at Florida (3:30 p.m., CBS)
  • TCU at Iowa State (3:30 p.m., ABC or ESPN2)
  • UCLA at Washington (3:30 p.m., ABC or ESPN2)
  • N.C. State at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m., NBC)
  • Houston at South Florida (3:45 p.m., ESPNU)
  • Georgia Tech at Clemson (8 p.m., ABC or ESPN2)
  • Texas Tech at Oklahoma (8 p.m., ABC or ESPN2)
  • Washington State at Arizona (9:30 p.m., network TBD)

Sweet football Jesus, the 3:30 p.m. slot next weekend is absolutely stacked. You think the networks could have given one or two of those games nighttime kickoffs?

In any case, Penn State-Ohio State has been looming for weeks and absolutely will be one to watch. The Buckeyes are coming off a bye and have won their last five games by an  average of 42 points. Penn State, meanwhile, just stomped Michigan at home and has the Joe Moorhead offense firing on all cylinders.

Elsewhere, Georgia faces Florida for its annual rivalry game in Jacksonville, Fla. Undefeated TCU travels to play an Iowa State squad that now has won three straight, with victories over Oklahoma and Texas Tech. And 1-loss N.C. State squares off against what should be a top-10 Notre Dame squad coming off a thrashing of USC.

Don’t discount the Clemson-Georgia Tech game, by the way. The Yellow Jackets are 4-2, with both losses being 1-pointers. The status of Clemson’s Kelly Bryant will be of major interest as the quarterback recovers from a concussion and a left ankle injury.

The post Week 8 bowl projections: College Football Playoff picture could get really, really messy appeared first on Diehards.

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