As college football’s regular season comes to a close with championship week, here’s the projected teams for the top six bowl games and the 2017 College Football Playoff.
Friday, Dec. 30, 2016: Capital One Orange Bowl (ACC vs. Big Ten or SEC) 8 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. MT ESPN
Jack Barsch: I think this game will have Michigan (10-2) now that Washington has locked up a playoff spot. For the ACC, this is not a deep conference outside of Clemson, so Louisville will get in. Lamar Jackson will continue his slide as the Cardinals get shut down by an angry Michigan team.
Sam Metivier: You’re burying the lede, you guys. LAMAR JACKSON VS. JABRILL PEPPERS. Holy moly this game will be fun until Michigan beats them down and wins 38-17.
Monday, Jan. 2, 2017: Rose Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-12) 5 p.m. ET/ 3 p.m. MT ESPN
Jack: The USC Trojans (9-3) will back their way into the Rose Bowl after the showing the Buffs had against Washington. USC will likely jump CU in the rankings and get the Pac-12’s second highest honor, and no one can say they don’t deserve it. Since switching to Sam Darnold, USC has been one of the best teams in college football. They will face newly-crowned Big 10 champs Penn State (11-2). I’m taking USC big in this one. Better athletes, better quarterback.
Sam: It’s difficult to say, but I think USC will jump the Buffs into the Rose Bowl. USC lost to Alabama 52-6 and were beaten by Utah and Stanford (both of whom Colorado beat), but have that road win against Washington and have the head-to-head on CU. Like Jack, I think the Trojans will defeat Penn State soundly.
Monday, Jan. 2, 2017: Goodyear Cotton Bowl (At-Large vs. At-Large) 1 p.m. ET/ 11 a.m. MT ABC
Jack: This is where I hope our Buffaloes (10-3) go. So I will put them here for wishful thinking. The Cotton Bowl in the Playoff era has been the highest aspiration for Group of 5 teams, so an undefeated Western Michigan (13-0) gets in here. The Broncos versus the Buffs in a clash of the two best stories in college football this year. And this is a favorable matchup for the Buffs.
Sam: If USC does jump CU for the Rose Bowl, the Buffs will be in competition with Wisconsin and Oklahoma State for this at-large bid (Michigan gets the Orange Bowl as the highest seeded at-large). I have no idea what to think about Wisconsin, but they’ve only lost close games to Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. I prefer Colorado’s resume because I’m biased and look, I wrote this before the Big Ten Championship and thought Wisconsin would win, so I’m winging it. Whatever. CU makes the Cotton Bowl and in the final game of this magical 2016 season, the Buffs defeat Western Michigan and Sefo Liufau wins MVP.
Monday, Jan. 2, 2017: Allstate Sugar Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC) 8:30 p.m. ET/ 6:30 p.m. MT ESPN
Jack: I’m with Jeff on this one. Oklahoma will finish out the Bedlam and get to the Sugar Bowl. That leaves the SEC’s second best team, which is a choice no one wants to make. This will be a bloodbath regardless. I guess Florida will get the honor of losing to the Sooners.
Sam: First off, LOL SEC. Besides Alabama, the conference has been a flaming bag of dog poo. Even though they’ve been the worst Power 5 conference in the nation, they’re still guaranteed a major bowl game berth, and with Alabama in the Playoff, the SEC will send over their second best team. Jeff and Jack have Florida, but I’ll go a different route and choose Auburn (8-4) because they seem like the least awful team available. Awaiting them will be Oklahoma, the Big 12 Champ. This game will be closer than many would think, but without any defense from either team, Oklahoma will outlast them and win for "Big Game" Bob Stoops.
Dec 31, 2016: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (At-Large vs. At-Large) Time TBD (3 p.m. ET or 7 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. MT or 5 p.m. MT) ESPN
Jack: Alabama is the best team in college football this year, and it’s not even close. I pity Washington for being in this position, but envy them for getting there. These are two complete teams, but Alabama’s complete beats everybody.
Sam: Writing this before Clemson-Virginia Tech starts, I will say the Tigers will barely get by to win the ACC (edit: heck yeah). With Clemson’s struggles and Washington’s dominance, I have the Huskies jumping the Tigers for the No. 3 ranking. That means this Peach Bowl will be a rematch of last year’s National Championship, Alabama vs. Clemson. Like last year, the Tide will roll.
Dec. 31, 2016: Playstation Fiesta Bowl (At-Large vs. At-Large) Time TBD (3 p.m. ET or 7 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. MT or 5 p.m. MT) ESPN
Jeff: Clemson Tigers (12-1) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)
Jack: Same with Jeff here, no Playoff drama this year. Ohio State is the more trustworthy team, but I can’t bet against Deshaun Watson and Clemson.
Sam: Washington will jump Clemson to play Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. This will be similar to the Michigan-Ohio State game in that it’s basically an NFL game with so much talent on the field. In all honesty, I have no idea how good the Big Ten is or how good the Big Ten’s best teams are. But I do know how good CU is, and I know how badly Washington beat them down. Call this a vote for the Pac-12, but I have Washington gutting out the win behind a resurgent Jake Browning.
Jan. 9, 2017: National Championship (Winners of Fiesta & Peach Bowl) 8:30 p.m. ET/ 6:30 p.m. MT ESPN
Jeff: Alabama (14-0) vs. Ohio State (12-1)
Jack: Alabama will play Clemson (12-1) here. Which will be a fantastic match-up. Clemson can play with anybody, and anybody can play with Clemson. They have the talent and quarterback necessary to make this a game. But no one will beat Bama this year.
Sam: Alabama and Washington (13-1) will play in the National Championship. It will be close for an entire quarter before the Huskies mush away with the victory, because why not. In this game, Jake Browning plays Manziellian, Myles Gaskin is unstoppable and the Washington defense, led by Budda Baker and Taylor Rapp, plays out of their collective mind. Washington wins 45-24 and USC beat Washington badly and CU almost beat USC with their backup quarterback because Sefo Liufau was injured and can you imagine if Sefo played maybe Colorado would have won the National Championship if he didn’t injure his ankle against Michigan much less against Washington oh geez.