L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
After missing out on both the SEC Championship Game and College Football Playoff last year, Alabama has returned to asserting its dominance atop the SEC. The Crimson Tide are rolling, and there might not be a team in the conference that can stop them this season.
On Saturday night, Alabama, the No. 2-ranked team in the country, defeated No. 3 Georgia 41-24 at Bryant-Denny Stadium to improve to 4-0 on the season.
But don’t count out the Bulldogs. Not only could they end up facing the Tide again in the SEC Championship Game in December, but they are also still a contender for a spot in the CFP this season depending on how the rest of the season shakes out.
The 2020 season is now seven weeks old (four for the SEC), and the Big Ten (Oct. 24) and Pac-12 (Nov. 7) are set to join in on the action soon. Here is a projection for the College Football Playoff and the rest of the New Year’s Six bowls.
College Football Playoff Projections
Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Oregon
Rose Bowl: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Ohio State
Rest of New Year’s Six Bowl Projections
Orange Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Georgia
Fiesta Bowl: USC vs. Penn State
Peach Bowl: Florida vs. Cincinnati
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Miami
Clemson Continues to Tear Through ACC
Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press
Another week, another dominant showing by Clemson. The No. 1-ranked Tigers dominated at Georgia Tech on Saturday, cruising to a 73-7 win and extending their ACC-record regular-season winning streak to 34.
They haven’t lost a game to a conference opponent since Oct. 13, 2017, at Syracuse.
Clemson again appears to be headed toward the College Football Playoff after making it in each of the past five seasons. Junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence is off to another terrific start, passing for 1,544 yards and 15 touchdowns while leading the Tigers to a 5-0 record.
Things won’t get much tougher for Clemson in the coming weeks, as it is set to host Syracuse and Boston College. The Tigers’ biggest challenge of the regular season will come Nov. 7, when they travel to take on No. 4 Notre Dame. If the Fighting Irish pulled out a win, they would immediately be in CFP consideration themselves.
But that’s going to be a tough feat. Clemson’s only loss in its past 35 games came in last season’s CFP National Championship Game against LSU. The Tigers are a powerhouse and unlikely to be dethroned as the class of the ACC in 2020.
Can 2 SEC Teams Reach Playoff?
The last time two teams from the same conference reached the College Football Playoff? The 2017 season, when Georgia (the SEC champions) and Alabama both made it as the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively. The Crimson Tide went on to beat the Bulldogs for the national title.
It’s not impossible for both teams to make it again this season. Perhaps Georgia will avenge Saturday’s loss and beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, maybe leaving both teams with only one loss apiece after that matchup. In that scenario, it would be hard to argue against including both in the CFP.
Of course, there’s still much of the regular season to play and many strong teams around the SEC. That’s certainly worth noting for the Bulldogs, who are scheduled to host No. 10 Florida on Nov. 7.
If Alabama and Georgia do face off again, it should be another exciting contest. Both teams are among the best in the country, and Saturday’s game was competitive until Alabama pushed its lead to 17 points with a fourth-quarter touchdown. The Bulldogs led by seven late in the first half before the Crimson Tide scored 24 unanswered points.
Ohio State Getting Set for Season Opener
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press
Ohio State’s projection is only based on expectations. The Buckeyes should be one of the best teams in the country. They need to go out and prove it, though.
The school gets its eight-game, Big Ten-only schedule underway Saturday when it hosts Nebraska. That’s a matchup that the No. 6-ranked Buckeyes should win. But they quickly face a tough challenge when they travel to play No. 9 Penn State on Oct. 31.
Last season, Ohio State won its first 13 games and captured the Big Ten championship, not losing until its CFP semifinal matchup against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. It returns some key players from that team, including junior quarterback Justin Fields and a strong receiving corps that features junior Chris Olave.
Don’t be surprised if the Buckeyes quickly solidify themselves as one of the top teams in the country again this year.