College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six projections after Week 5: Goodbye to the Big 12

Two more top-10 teams fell in Week 5 to further shake up the College Football Playoff picture.

It’s looking more like two teams from the same conference will make the College Football Playoff.

Though we can’t cross off the Pac-12 yet because it has only released a seven-game, conference-only schedule, we might be able to do that with the Big 12 after Week 5. The No. 9 Texas Longhorns handed a victory to the TCU Horned Frogs in the early afternoon. The No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs got everything right vs. the No. 7 Auburn Tigers with the best win of the season so far.

Here are the four projected teams to make the College Football Playoff.

Projected 2021 College Football Playoff teams through Week 5
Clemson Tigers
ACC Champions (12-0)

It’s going to take a lot for the Clemson Tigers to not be the No. 1 ranked team in the College Football Playoff field this year. They have the best quarterback/running back tandem in college football in Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. Clemson has become playoff royalty and it would be shocking at this point if the Tigers end up losing a single conference game this season.

They will be one of only two teams to be undefeated heading into the playoff field. However, we still haven’t seen Clemson beat anybody good just yet. Fortunately for them and us as the viewing public, they will have their opportunity to wow us in the signature game of Week 6 when they host the Miami Hurricanes. Wins over a few ranked teams will ensure them of the top spot in the field.

Alabama Crimson Tide
SEC Champions (10-1)

For at least one week, the Alabama Crimson Tide should move up to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 Poll. They embarrassed the No. 13 Texas A&M Aggies yet again by hanging over half a hundred points on Jimbo Fisher’s team. Though it’s getting harder and harder to figure out if Alabama will lose a conference game this season or not, the SEC is too daunting for anyone to realistically go 10-0.

Alabama will win the SEC West with a 9-1 regular-season record and will defeat whoever comes out of the SEC East in Atlanta like the Crimson Tide usually do. Nick Saban having yet to lose to one of his many disciples gives him a distinct advantage to having the best team in the SEC. Because the conference looks to be so tough, they will edge out one undefeated Power 5 team.

Ohio State Buckeyes
Big Ten Champions (9-0)

Until we see what the Ohio State Buckeyes are all about, they’re going to remain in the top-three based on past reputation alone. Ohio State has the talent and the coaching to navigate a tough eight-game Big Ten schedule without a defeat. It may not be as impressive as running the SEC gauntlet unscathed, but it will be impressive enough to get the Buckeyes into the playoff.

Because Ohio State may only play four teams worth a damn this year, as it really falls off in the Big Ten outside of the top five or so, that might knock them a bit when it comes to getting a top-two seed in the playoff field. They’ll likely battle with Alabama or whoever wins the SEC for the No. 2 spot in the field because Clemson will almost certainly not suffer a loss until maybe the playoff.

Georgia Bulldogs
SEC East Champions (9-2)

Earning the final spot in the field this week is Georgia, who dominated rival Auburn from the jump. This was a team that many people had their doubts about because of the quarterback position. Well, Stetson Bennett IV played great in his first career start. The UGA rushing attack was as dominant as ever and the defense looks to be the very best in college football through five weeks.

The reason Georgia gets that last spot in over its arch-rival is three-fold: One, the Dawgs have the better defense. Two, they have a better rushing attack. And three, winning history is on their side by taking the last three SEC East Championship games down in Jacksonville. Though they’ll probably lose to Alabama twice, the Dawgs are firmly one of the five best teams in the country.

First two teams projected out through Week 5
Florida Gators
SEC East Runner-Up (9-1)

It’s hard to knock what the Florida Gators have done in two games, but there is still work to be done to ensure they are the ones getting to Atlanta and not Georgia. Scoring nearly 100 points vs. the Ole Miss Rebels and the South Carolina Gamecocks will make us turn our heads. However, this defense will give up points in the manner in which it plays offense. This end up being problematic.

Florida should be able to beat nearly everybody on its schedule with its high-octane passing attack led by quarterback Kyle Trask and tight end Kyle Pitts. However, what happens when they face the likes of a Georgia or an Alabama defense? The Gators could be 2019 LSU or they could be 2019 Oklahoma. How they go up against major SEC competition will seal their fate in 2020.

Miami Hurricanes
ACC Runner-Up (10-2)

Because this team is fun and they might actually be back, unlike Texas, I have the Miami Hurricanes as the second team out this week. They have replaced the Norte Dame Fighting Irish as the second-best ACC team in my eyes because of their ability to put up points and dominate opponents. It may not be enough to beat Clemson twice, but it’s New Year’s Six bowl caliber.

Adding D’Eriq King at quarterback, along with Rhett Lashlee at offensive coordinator has made Miami the best it’s been in years. This doesn’t feel like a 2017 Mark Richt flash in the pan. The ACC has several strong teams, and the Hurricanes are among the very best in their Power 5 conference. 10 wins are cool, but how many excellent teams will the ‘Canes beat this year?

New Year’s Six Bowl projections through Week 5
  • Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Clemson Tigers vs. No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs*
  • Rose Bowl: No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes*
  • Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Wisconsin Badgers
  • Fiesta Bowl: Oregon Ducks vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
  • Orange Bowl: Miami Hurricanes vs. Florida Gators
  • Peach Bowl: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

* = Denotes College Football Playoff national semifinal

Clemson faces Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama gets Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The Oklahoma State Cowboys face the Wisconsin Badgers in the Cotton Bowl. The Oregon Ducks get the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Fiesta Bowl. Miami faces Florida in the Orange Bowl. Notre Dame gets the Group of 5 champion Cincinnati Bearcats in the Peach Bowl.

Overall, the SEC is in great shape to get two teams in, but the ACC has an outside shot at it as well.

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