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College football bowl projections: Penn State takes advantage of West Virginia’s upset loss

No. 1 Alabama played its worst half of the season on Saturday, but it wasn’t playing an opponent capable of capitalizing on that.  The Crimson Tide were tied with The Citadel 10-10 at the halftime before running away from the Bulldogs after the break.  Still, it was fun to think about the possibility of the biggest upset in college football history for a few minutes.

An actual upset that did occur, although not nearly on that scale, was No. 9 West Virginia’s loss at Oklahoma State.  That loss knocked the Mountaineers out of the New Year’s Six bowl projections, where they are replaced by No. 14 Penn State.

West Virginia can still play for the Big 12 title with a win over No. 6 Oklahoma.  In fact, that result could knock the Sooners out of the conference title chase.  A West Virginia win and a No. 15 Texas win over Kansas would create a three way tie and with Oklahoma having lost to the other two, the Sooners are out.  If Texas loses to Kansas, the WVU-Oklahoma game is merely for seed in the Big 12 title game.

The other conference championship games matchups are mostly rounding into form.  Two are settled.  The SEC matchup of Alabama and No. 5 Georgia has been in place for two weeks.  Pitt clinched an ACC title game berth against No. 3 Clemson on Saturday with a win over Wake Forest.Four other conferences have one team in place and a winner-take-all game for the other spot this weekend, which we break down below after the updated bowl projections.

2019 College Football Playoff

Jan. 7

National Championship
Santa Clara, Calif.

8 p.m.
ESPN

Title game Semifinal winners

Dec. 29

Cotton Bowl
Arlington, Tex.

4/8 p.m.
ESPN

Semifinal

(1) Alabama vs. (4) Michigan

Dec. 29

Orange Bowl
Miami

4/8 p.m.
ESPN

Semifinal

(2) Clemson vs. (3) Notre Dame

Selection committee bowl games

Jan. 1

Sugar
New Orleans

8:45 p.m.
ESPN

SEC vs. Big 12

Georgia vs. Oklahoma

Jan. 1

Rose
Pasadena, Calif.

5 p.m.
ESPN

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Ohio State vs. Washington State

Jan. 1

Fiesta
Glendale, Ariz.

1 p.m.
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

Florida vs. UCF

Dec. 29

Peach
Atlanta

Noon
ESPN

At-large vs. At-large

LSU vs. Penn State

Click here for for the rest of Jerry Palm’s college football bowl projections.  

In the Big Ten, No. 22 Northwestern is awaiting the winner of the battle between No. 4 Michigan and No. 10 Ohio State.  No. 19 Utah clinched its place in the Pac 12 championship and will play the Apple Cup winner between No. 18 Washington and No. 8 Washington State.  Fresno State will take to the road to play the winner of No. 23 Utah State vs. No. 25 Boise State for the Mountain West title.  The West division of the AAC could finish in as much as a four-way tie if Memphis beats Houston next week, but Memphis wins any tiebreaker, so that is a winner-take-all game also, and that team will face No. 11 UCF.

One question I hear often is if I am sure the Big Ten will be in the TaxSlayer bowl this season.  I cannot be sure.  The Music City and TaxSlayer bowls are shared by the Big Ten and the ACC with each bowl getting each conference three times in six years.  This is Year 5 of that deal with a perfect 2-2 split for the first four years.  I have the Big Ten in TaxSlayer this year because it has been in Music City each of the last two seasons.  The actual decision is not made until bowl selection weekend.

Again this week, I am projecting all 78 bowl slots to be filled with teams that are 6-6 or better, and I still have three teams with nowhere to go.  The teams that I am projecting to be bowl eligible, but left out, are still the same — Coastal Carolina, Louisiana-Monroe and Wyoming. The bowl eligibility tracker is live.

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