Bowl projections and analysis: Where Spartans, Demon Deacons fit in

  • Covers the Pac-12.
  • Joined ESPN in 2014.
  • Attended Washington State University.

  • Senior college football writer
  • Author of seven books on college football
  • Graduate of the University of Georgia

Michigan State posted the biggest win of the weekend, Ohio State held off a challenge from Penn State, and top-10 teams Iowa and Ole Miss went down to defeat. SMU and San Diego State fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, while Wake Forest, Oklahoma, Cincinnati and Georgia kept their unblemished records intact.

What does it all mean to the bowl picture? In addition to predicting the matchups for every bowl game, Mark Schlabach and Kyle Bonagura provide analysis on their playoff picks, most intriguing bowl matchup, fast-rising teams that could make a New Year’s Six push and teams that helped or hurt their cause the most.

All times Eastern

College Football Playoff

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T
Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
Jan. 10, 8 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Georgia vs. Alabama
Schlabach: Georgia vs. Oklahoma

CFP Semifinal at Capital One Orange Bowl
Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Florida)
Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Georgia vs. Michigan State
Schlabach: Georgia vs. Cincinnati

CFP Semifinal at Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Dec. 31, 3:30 or 7:30 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Cincinnati vs. Alabama
Schlabach: Michigan State vs. Oklahoma

Playoff breakdown

Bonagura: It was always inevitable that Cincinnati’s strength of schedule would be more of a target as the season progressed, but I’m going to go ahead and leave the Bearcats in the No. 2 spot for another week as we await the only opinion that really matters: the College Football Playoff selection committee’s. Tuesday’s announcement of the initial playoff rankings will be instructive on what to expect the Bearcats’ path to the playoff to look like, and while history says the inclusion of a Group of 5 team is unlikely, the Bearcats have as good a case as any of the era — at this point, of course. Georgia is the obvious No. 1 and Michigan State deserves to be in the top four after beating Michigan. Nick Saban and Alabama have earned the benefit of the doubt, while Oklahoma is sitting on zero impressive wins. The Sooners will have a chance to change that with three good opponents to finish the regular season (Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State).

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