Unfortunately for college football fans everywhere, some familiar teams are competing for a national championship again this year: Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, Notre Dame, Ohio State and LSU are just a few of the teams we can expect to finish in the top 10.
Now, we could complain that Appalachian State will never be considered by the playoff committee at the end of the season or that Clemson will inevitably make the playoffs despite playing in the embarrassingly easy ACC. As a college football fan, I understand these frustrations.
To cope with the predictability, analysts tend to make wild predictions and give us fans their “hot takes.”
That’s all baloney, and you know it. Why should we kid ourselves? We know very well which teams will still be playing come Jan. 1.
With that said, here are my safe New Year’s Six and playoff bowl game predictions.
LSU vs. Texas
This one was easy for me: the second-best teams out of the SEC and Big 12, respectively, that fall just outside of the playoffs.
As much as I would enjoy seeing an Ed Orgeron press conference before a playoff game, I’m afraid that the Tigers will have to settle for the Sugar Bowl. They still have to play No. 1 Alabama and No. 11 Auburn in back-to-back games, at least one of which will go in the loss column. And as we’ve all learned, a one-loss team without a conference championship game berth has little to no chance of making the playoffs.
Wisconsin vs. Oregon
While pre-season Heisman candidate Jonathan Taylor has been the center of attention up in Madison, the Wisconsin defense deserves just as much praise. Through six games the Badgers boast the best defense in the nation, allowing just 173.7 yards per game and four total touchdowns throughout six games.
I think Oregon’s a shoo-in unless they somehow lose to No. 25 Washington or No. 17 Arizona State (in true Pac-12 fashion).
Virginia vs. Penn State
Quite honestly, I have no idea how the ACC will pan out. Virginia went 4-0 to start the season, but after back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and Miami, I’m starting to doubt that the Cavaliers have what it takes to get to the ACC championship game and earn a spot in the Orange Bowl.
Having said that, I don’t see Wake Forest, UNC or Duke clawing their way back into contention for an NY6 bowl game. I can see the third-best team in the Big 10 — a solid Penn State team — take on a potential three-loss Virginia team in the Orange Bowl and probably win as well.
Man oh man is the ACC bad.
Notre Dame vs. Florida
The Irish have had another successful year. They sit at 5-1, with their only loss being a 17-23 nailbiter to a very good Georgia team at Sanford Stadium. The Fighting Irish won’t compete for a playoff spot this year, but they will solidify their spot in the top 10 with a win against Michigan this weekend.
The SEC is simply loaded with great football teams this year. With Alabama in the playoff and LSU in the Sugar Bowl, Florida still deserves a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl. They’ll find themselves in the Cotton Bowl come Jan. 1.
College Football Playoff
Peach Bowl: Alabama vs. Ohio State
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Clemson
As I said earlier, I refuse to make bold predictions because my bold predictions have been wrong year after year. This year, I’m making an informed, pragmatic prediction: Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma will go undefeated.
Oklahoma will have to play Texas again in the Big 12 conference championship game, but quarterback Jalen Hurts will lead the Sooners to victory again, just as he did in their 34-27 win over the Longhorns last week.
I understand that Alabama still has to play LSU, Auburn and either Florida or Georgia in the SEC championship game. That’s a daunting end-of-season schedule, to say the least, but it’s nothing the Crimson Tide haven’t handled en route to five straight CFP appearances.
William Cooke covers men’s soccer. Contact him at