Bowl projections: Ohio State in college football playoff after USC tumbles while Georgia, Michigan, TCU clinch

We knew there wasn’t going to be much drama in championship week, at least as far as the four teams that would ultimately make the College Football Playoffs were concerned. It was just a matter of which team would finish 4th, USC or Ohio State.

Well, Utah defeated USC for the second time this season, 47-24 in the 2022 Pac-12 championship game to knock the Trojans out of playoff contention. In fact, USC will most likely be ranked behind Utah when the final CFP rankings are released Sunday afternoon.

Ohio State will therefore return to the college football playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons, most likely as the No. 4 seed. This makes the Big Ten only the second conference in CFP history to see two teams come together in a unique four-team field and join the SEC.

The Buckeyes’ positioning is only a question because Kansas State gave TCU their first loss of the season in the Big 12 Championship Game, with the Wildcats avenging their regular-season loss to the Horned Frogs in overtime.

I believe TCU stays ahead of Ohio State in the CFP, but even if it doesn’t, forget any notion that Alabama will rise alongside Ohio State and oust TCU. That would be completely unfounded. If TCU’s jerseys read “Oklahoma” or Alabama’s “Ole Miss,” no one would even consider that point of discussion.

Georgia filled the top of the four-team field and secured the first seed in the playoffs and its first win in the SEC championship game since 2017 in a loss to No. 14 LSU, and Michigan clinched the second seed by winning its second big consecutively won Ten Championship Game, that season over Purdue.

College Football Playoff

January 9th

National Championship
Inglewood, California

title game Semifinal Winner

Dec 31

peach peel


(1) Georgia vs. (4) Ohio State

Dec 31

Fiesta Bowl
Glendale, Ariz.


(2) Michigan vs. (3) TCU

The Rose Bowl will feature Pac-12 champion Utah, who reappears in the Granddaddy of Them All after winning the championship for the second straight year. Penn State will represent the Big Ten in place of league champions Michigan as the top-ranked Big Ten team not playing in the CFP.

USC should remain high enough in the CFP rankings to earn a spot in the Cotton Bowl. This opportunity arises because the Big Ten have placed a second team in the CFP. Ohio State, eliminated from the free pool for the New Year’s Six, opens the door to the Trojans.

Like Kansas State earlier in the day, Tulane took revenge on a regular-season loss in the AAC Championship Game. The Green Wave throttled UCF 45-28 to win the league crown and advance to their first major bowl game since 1939 when undefeated Tulane faced similarly undefeated Texas A&M in the 1940 Sugar Bowl. Tulane will represent the Group of Five in this year’s Cotton Bowl against USC.

Speaking of the Wildcats, their Big 12 championship secures a place in the Sugar Bowl. Kansas State meets Alabama, the backup for SEC champion Georgia.

The Orange Bowl will be won by ACC Champion Clemson, who defeated North Carolina 39-10 in the ACC Championship game. Tennessee will be the opponent for Clemson as the highest-ranked team left by the SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame. A Clemson-Tennessee matchup seems appropriate for one orange Bowl.

New Year’s Six Bowl Games

Buffalo and New Mexico State were the latest teams to qualify for the bowl this week, albeit in different ways. Buffalo defeated Akron 23-22 to earn its sixth win and secure a bowl berth. NMSU received a waiver from the NCAA to compete as a five-win team.

New Mexico State went out and still picked up a sixth win over FCS Valparaiso in a game added late this weekend, but it doesn’t count among the six the Aggies needed as only one FCS opponent can be counted and NMSU Lamar defeated earlier this season. The waiver put the Aggies in a bowl anyway.

With the rest of the field, only Rice will compete this season as a 5-7 team. That may as well be, considering the next team in line, UNLV, fired their coach this week and was considering turning down an offer for the bowl if it were offered.

Don’t see your team? Cash Jerry Palm’s updated shell projections as well as CBS Sports Bowl Eligibility Tracker All 82 seats are now filled for the 2022-23 bowl games.