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No. 6 Tennessee’s stunning 52-49 win over No. 3 Alabama not only snapped a 15-game losing streak for the Volunteers in the series, it has also resulted in the Vols replacing the Crimson Tide in the updated College Football Playoff projection. After defeating Alabama for the first time since 2006, Tennessee now sits 6-0 on the season with one of the program’s biggest wins of the last two decades.

Though Tennessee is replacing Alabama in the field of four, it is not taking Bama’s exact seed. The Vols are projected for the No. 4 spot setting up what would be a rematch with No. 1 seed Georgia. The placement takes into account a projected win for Georgia over Tennessee on Nov. 5 with the Bulldogs going on to win the SEC Championship Game with the Vols finishing the season 11-1.

Ohio State, which was off this week, remains the No. 2 seed slotted for the Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes return to action against Iowa next week. Ohio State’s opponent would be No. 3 seed Clemson, which beat Florida State handily and will play what is likely to be a top-15 Syracuse team next week.

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) Clemson

Beyond the CFP, there are also changes to the other New Year’s Six games coming out of Separation Saturday.

Alabama is still expected to win the SEC West and play in the SEC Championship Game, though it is projected to lose to Georgia in that contest. Because of the loss already to the Vols, a two-loss Crimson Tide would slide into the Sugar Bowl as the SEC representative.

Wake Forest replaces NC State as the ACC representative in the Orange Bowl. The Wolfpack fell to the Orange, but more importantly, lost quarterback Devin Leary for the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered in last week’s win over the Seminoles.

Penn State (at Michigan), USC (at Utah) and Oklahoma State (at TCU) all retained their projected bowl positions despite road losses this week. Those losses were already expected as part of last week’s projection.

Finally, Cincinnati has stepped in as the new Group of Five representative in the Cotton Bowl after Coastal Carolina lost at home to Old Dominion.

New Year’s Six bowl games

Jan. 2

Rose
Pasadena, Calif.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Michigan vs. USC

Jan. 2

Cotton
Arlington, Tex.

at-large vs. at-large

Oregon vs. Cincinnati

Dec. 31

Sugar
New Orleans

SEC vs. Big 12

Alabama vs. Oklahoma State

Dec. 30

Orange
Miami

ACC vs. SEC/B1G/ND

Wake Forest vs. Penn State

James Madison also lost at Georgia Southern leaving the Group of Five without any remaining undefeated teams. However, the Dukes were already ineligible for the postseason, so while the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll may rank them again this season, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will not.

There are now 16 bowl-eligible teams out of the 82 that are needed to fill every slot. The SEC has the most so far with four. There are also three teams in this projection expected to have only five wins. That is the smallest number in a bowl projection so far this season.

Don’t see your team? Check out the rest of Jerry Palm’s bowl projections after Week 7.



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