College Football Playoff Projections

College football is generally unpredictable. This season? More than ever.

Oregon and Auburn both started the season in the top 10. Not anymore. Utah started the season unranked. They're now national title contenders. The SEC lacks a team in the top five for the first time in five years. If October is anything like September, the College Football Playoff committee will have a lot of long nights in hotel ballrooms.

Having said that, here's the first edition of our CFP/New Year's Six projections. There's no doubt these are going to change, likely frequently. But, for a current barometer of the calm before the storm, here's what we have penciled in after the fifth week of action.

Cotton Bowl: (1) Utah vs. (4) Clemson

Quick ... did anyone have this as a potential matchup at the start of September? Me neither. However, this is a serious possibility and has the makings of a terrific matchup. The Utes had the most impressive September, taking out what's become a good Michigan team and then throttling Oregon in Autzen Stadium. There's no question that Utah's drubbing of the Ducks was superior to Michigan State's survival over Oregon in East Lansing. Utah controls its destiny in the Pac-12, which seems to be eating its own under the perch that the Utes sit comfortably atop.

Meanwhile, the term "Clemsoning" has become a thing of the past. Dabo Swinney's Tigers have some pretty impressive pelts over the last two seasons the latest being an edging of Notre Dame in a Saturday night monsoon. Clemson currently faces just one ranked team for the rest of the season, a November showdown with Florida State. If Clemson takes care of business, it'll be very hard to leave the Tigers out of the picture.

Orange Bowl: (2) Ohio State vs. (3) Baylor

Has Ohio State looked the part of a top-ranked team? Not really. However, Ohio State still looks poised to run the table. The Buckeyes remind me a lot of last years Florida State team. They have tons of talent, a solid quarterback, a phenomenal running back and an ability to be clutch when they need to be. However, with a target on their back, they're finding the road is always a little bit tougher.

Meanwhile, Baylor is ripping through teams faster and more thorough than ever before. The Bears seem determined not to be left out this season and their blowout of Texas Tech showed just how serious they are. Whoever wins the Baylor/TCU showdown should land a playoff spot this time and for now, slight edge to the Bears.

CFP New Year's Six

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. TCU

The SEC is eating its own in quick fashion, and while I believe LSU has the best player in college football in Leonard Fournette, I'm still concerned that they'll need Brandon Harris to win them a game. I'm not confident enough just yet to believe Harris could pull them through when needed, so for now, I'll take the Tide, who seem to have found their groove again in Athens, Georgia. They'll take on a TCU squad that, if they land here, would be upset about barely missing out again.

Nick Saban needs only to look back to last year's Peach Bowl to see why this could be a very dangerous situation for this Tide. Of course, if TCU beats Baylor, the Horned Frogs would replace Baylor in the playoff and the Bears would slip in here. Alabama/Baylor could be an epic matchup; Baylor's attempts to shred the 'Bama secondary versus 'Bama's lines and Derrick Henry slugging away at the Bear defense.

Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford

The Rose Bowl would love to go back to its traditional Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup and they'll land it here. Michigan State is solid and, if they take down Ohio State, could be the CFP spoiler. However, for now, here's thinking Ohio State survives and Michigan State won't be able to fight their way into the playoff, sending them to Pasadena (nice consolation prize). Sparty right now is slated to take on Stanford, as Oregon has stumbled, along with USC, UCLA, and Arizona. The Cardinal are subject to be swallowed into the Pac-12 fire but for now, we'll keep them alive.

Fiesta Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma

Two former rivals rekindle in the desert. Oklahoma has steadily guided themselves back into the higher ranks with a lot of tough games ahead. However, it seems as though Bob Stoops has a good hold of this team and with Perine still tearing it up on the ground, it seems reasonable to send the Sooners back to Arizona. It sounds just plain fun to pair them up with Kevin Sumlin's high octane attack. The Aggies have again come out of the gate strong; if they can avoid a similar swoon that hit them last year, A&M will reach a New Year's Six game, putting three Texas teams into the high-profile bowls and further adding pressure and angst to the folks in Austin.

Peach Bowl: LSU vs. Florida State

The belief about LSU is this: Fournette is going to put on a show in the Georgia Dome at some point. If the Tigers beat Alabama, it'll be in December at the SEC Championship. If 'Bama triumphs, it'll be in the Peach Bowl. Either way, Fournette and company are going to be in Atlanta. The matchup currently would have them taking on Florida State, who is still a force to be reckoned with in the ACC. Dalvin Cook's health is a major concern down the stretch, but given they stay healthy, the 'Noles should have a good enough record to land here and take on the Tigers.

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