Below, we’re keeping track of each top-25 game’s impact, both before and after final scores, mostly paying attention to CFP committee business, not highlights and stuff. And because there are only a few games, this week, let’s throw in every other FBS game too. Here are the bowl projections to use as a starting point ahead of all this.
Remember the things the committee has mostly demonstrated it rewards: wins over final top-25 teams, wins over bowl teams, road wins, dominant wins, weirdly excusable losses, being Alabama, and not being a mid-major. It does not care what your opponent’s ranking was at kickoff.
Final scores in bold. All rankings CFP, and I’m only listing ones we’re already certain about for now. Will update Tuesday night.
Games that will decide a major bowl bid, for example.
- SEC Championship — No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Georgia: Once again, Bama might’ve already clinched a Playoff spot before title weekend even began. Georgia can make it with a win, but a 12-1 Bama would have a real argument for No. 4. Some are even wondering why a UGA that loses close should fall from No. 4 at all, but there’s the committee wouldn’t want to book that rematch of a rematch, if it could at all avoid it.
- ACC Championship — No. 2 Clemson vs. Pitt: With the SEC champ and Notre Dame taking spots and the Big Ten and Big 12 likely having good cases, Clemson should try to win, in my humble opinion. It’s really hard to know what the committee would make of this team that’s been so dominant against such a lean schedule if it were to lose.
- No. 3 Notre Dame: Waiting to book travel to Dallas or Miami.
- Big 12 Championship — No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 14 Texas: If OU avenges its (close, statistically fluky) loss, the Sooners have a great Playoff case, in my opinion. Texas has an outside shot at a Peach/Fiesta Bowl with a strong showing, or it could steal a Sugar bid by beating OU again.
- Big Ten Championship — No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 21 Northwestern: If Ohio State gets a lead, expect no mercy. The Buckeyes must go for style points while trying to upgrade a Rose bid into a Playoff bid. The problem: Northwestern is a tricky team to run it up against, as the Wildcats are designed to lose by scores of 16-12.
- AAC Championship — No. 8 UCF vs. Memphis: If UCF wins, it’s back in the New Year’s Six bowls, either the Peach or Fiesta. If Memphis wins, the Group of 5 spot goes to the Mountain West champ. Remember, it’s only for conference champions.
- Pac-12 Championship — No. 11 Washington 10, No. 17 Utah 3: The Pac-12 champ clinches a Rose bid against either Ohio State, Michigan, or Northwestern.
- Mountain West Championship — No. 22 Boise State vs. No. 25 Fresno State: If UCF loses, this is for the Fiesta Bowl. If UCF wins, this is for the Las Vegas Bowl.
Games that could change bowl season, even if it’s just by significantly altering another team’s resume.
- Stanford at Cal: The rescheduled rivalry game could help swing a lower-tier Pac-12 bowl.
- Virginia Tech vs. Marshall: We’re already going to have three or four bowl-eligible teams missing out on bids, and VT would knock out another by extending its newly nation-leading eligibility streak.
- Conference USA Championship — UAB vs. Middle Tennessee: The C-USA champ gets its pick from among the conference’s bowl ties, but I’d wonder if UAB would prefer to host the Birmingham Bowl, capping a season of pretty promising home attendance.
- MAC Championship — NIU 30, Buffalo 29: Mobile’s Dollar General Bowl against a top Sun Belt team is sort of the traditional destination for MAC champs, but we’ll see.
- Sun Belt Championship — Appalachian State vs. UL Lafayette: The Sun Belt recently announced its champ gets the New Orleans Bowl.
Losing a big upset here could hurt your bowl standing, sure. Try not to do that!
- No. 23 Iowa State vs. Drake
- NC State vs. East Carolina
- South Carolina vs. Akron
- Liberty vs. Norfolk State: Liberty could clinch bowl eligibility with a two-FCS-games waiver, but I wouldn’t expect a bid anyway.