Bowl projections: Georgia stays on top, Tennessee hangs on, TCU replaces Clemson in College Football Playoff

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Georgia won its highly anticipated matchup with Tennessee, 27-13, but while the Bulldogs were third with the Volunteers first in last week’s College Football Playoff Rankings, the Dawgs’ win does not change the projected playoff matchups. A nine-point favorite entering the game, Georgia was already projected to beat Tennessee, win the SEC and earn the top spot in the CFP with the Vols expected to take the fourth seed.

Some help will be necessary for Tennessee to slide into the CFP at 11-1. The most important of those developments is Georgia remaining undefeated, winning SEC at 13-0. Any loss for the Dawgs will push them down the rankings, and they are now a ceiling for how high the Vols can finish.

Another important factor for Tennessee is Alabama, which must remain as strong as possible given it is the Vols’ best win. That presence took a hit Saturday night as the Crimson Tide lost at LSU, 32-31 in overtime. Alabama now sits 7-2 on the season and third place in the SEC West behind LSU and Ole Miss. The Tide play the Rebels next week with a chance to claim second place.

Tennessee will also need help from other conferences. Ideally, the SEC would produce the only undefeated team in Georgia. It could still work out for the Vols if there are two or even three unbeaten teams; however, there has never been an unbeaten Power Five team left out of the College Football Playoff.

Ohio State, Michigan and TCU remain undefeated, but the given the Buckeyes and Wolverines must still play one another, the possibility of four undefeated teams went by the wayside Saturday night thanks to Notre Dame’s 35-14 win over Clemson. With the Tigers suffering their first defeat of the season, the ACC champion is now assured to have at least one loss on its record.

As such, there is a new projected top four in the playoff. Clemson drops out with TCU taking its place. The Horned Frogs defeated Texas Tech on Saturday but have a tough stretch of their schedule coming up with games at Texas and Baylor.

College Football Playoff

Jan. 9

National Championship
Inglewood, Calif.

Title game Semifinal winners

Dec. 31

Peach Bowl
Atlanta

Semifinal

(1) Georgia vs. (4) Tennessee

Dec. 31

Fiesta Bowl
Glendale, Ariz.

Semifinal

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) TCU

Beyond the adjustments to the playoff, changes may be ahead for the New Year’s Six projections with Alabama and Wake Forest both losing this week. Check back Sunday morning for Jerry Palm’s complete updated bowl projections.

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