College football bowl projections for championship week: Will Washington, FSU hold onto playoff spots?

No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Michigan could lose on conference championship weekend and still make the College Football Playoff. We can’t stay the same thing about No. 3 Washington and No. 4 Florida State.

Sporting News conference championship weekend bowl projections have the Huskies and Seminoles in the CFP, but the pressure is on this week. Who do you have more faith in? 

Washington opened as a 9.5-point underdog to No. 5 Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. Remember when the Huskies beat the Ducks 36-33 on Oct. 14? A loss likely would lead to the Ducks simply taking the Huskies spot. 

What about Florida State? The Seminoles averaged 3.9 yards per play with Tate Rodemaker in a 24-15 victory against Florida, but the defense was solid. Florida State is a 3.5-point favorite against Louisville. Would the CFP committee really entertain turning away an unbeaten Power 5 team? We still don’t think so. 

But No. 6 Ohio State, No. 7 Texas and No. 8 Alabama are hoping for a little chaos. For now, we will hold on to the Huskies and Seminoles. 

MORE: Updated college football polls after Rivalry Week

The College Football Playoff semifinals will be on Jan. 1, 2024. Those semifinals will be played at the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, Calif., and the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Those locations were the sites of the first four-team playoff in 2014. 

The College Football Playoff championship game is on Jan. 8 at NRG Stadium in Houston. 

SN has projections for every bowl game here, and they will be updated each week for the remainder of the season: 

College football bowl predictions for championship week

A look at Sporting News bowl projections heading into conference championship week of the 2023 college football season: 

Date Bowl Projected matchup
Dec. 16 Famous Toastery Bowl Northern Illinois vs. New Mexico State
Dec. 16 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Liberty vs. Troy
Dec. 16 Cure Bowl South Florida vs. Texas State
Dec. 16 New Mexico Bowl Western Kentucky vs. San Jose State
Dec. 16 LA Bowl Cal vs. UNLV
Dec. 16 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl USC vs. UCF
Dec. 18 Myrtle Beach Bowl SMU vs. Georgia State
Dec. 19 Frisco Bowl Army vs. South Alabama
Dec. 21 Boca Raton Bowl Jacksonville State vs. James Madison
Dec. 22 Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl Rice vs. Old Dominion
Dec. 23 Birmingham Bowl Coastal Carolina vs. Syracuse
Dec. 23 Camellia Bowl Miami (Ohio) vs. Appalachian State
Dec. 23 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Texas Tech vs. Marshall
Dec. 23 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Eastern Michigan vs. Air Force
Dec. 23 68 Ventures Bowl Ohio vs. Arkansas State
Dec. 23 SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl Northwestern vs. Utah
Dec. 23 Easypost Hawai’i Bowl UTSA vs. Fresno State
Dec. 26 Quick Lane Bowl Georgia Southern vs. Toledo
Dec. 26 Servpro First Responder Bowl West Virginia vs. Wyoming
Dec. 26 Guaranteed Rate Bowl Iowa State vs. Rutgers
Dec. 27 Military Bowl Louisiana vs. Utah State
Dec. 27 Duke’s Mayo Bowl Auburn vs. Georgia Tech
Dec. 27 TaxAct Texas Bowl Kansas vs. Duke
Dec. 28 Fenway Bowl Boson College vs. Memphis
Dec. 28 Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl Wisconsin vs. Virginia Tech
Dec. 28 San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl UCLA vs. Miami (Fla.)
Dec. 28 Pop-Tarts Bowl Oklahoma vs. NC State
Dec. 28 Valero Alamo Bowl Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
Dec. 29 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Texas A&M vs. Clemson
Dec. 29 Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl Oregon State vs. North Carolina
Dec. 29 AutoZone Liberty Bowl Kentucky vs. Kansas State
Dec. 30 Transperfect Music City Bowl Tennessee vs. Maryland
Dec. 30 Barstool Arizona Bowl Bowling Green vs. Boise State
Jan. 1 Reliaquest Bowl Ole Miss vs. Notre Dame
Jan. 1 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl LSU vs. Iowa

MORE: Tracking every FBS coaching change for 2023

New Year’s Day Six predictions 

A look at our New Year’s Day Six predictions for conference championship week: 

Date Bowl Projected matchup
Dec. 29 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Texas vs. Missouri
Dec. 30 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Tulane vs. Penn State
Dec. 30 Capital One Orange Bowl Ohio State vs. Louisville
Jan. 1 Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Alabama vs. Oregon

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Texas vs. Missouri 

This matchup holds up from last week. The Longhorns need to beat Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship game and hope Florida State loses in order to have a lock-tight CFP argument. Missouri wrapped up a 10-win season, and Cody Schrader ranks second in the FBS with 1,489 rushing yards. This Big 12 reunion/SEC preview matchup would have juice. 

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Tulane vs. Penn State 

Tulane remains the Group of Five pick here heading into an American Athletic Conference championship matchup against SMU, but unbeaten Liberty deserves to be in the conversation. James Franklin led Penn State to another 10-win season, and they are 3-1 in New Year’s Day Six bowls. Michael Pratt vs. Drew Allar would make this an intriguing quarterback matchup, too. 

Capital One Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. Louisville 

The Buckeyes will be hoping for a back-door into the CFP like last year, but it seems like a stretch given they are not playing on conference championship weekend for the second straight season. This is the more likely landing spot against Louisville – which saw any playoff hope end with a 38-31 loss to Kentucky. Despite being from neighboring states, these teams have not met since a home-and-home in 1990-91. 

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl: Alabama vs. Oregon 

The Crimson Tide and Ducks remain in the CFP discussion heading into conference championship weekend, but if both teams lose, this will be the landing spot. The Ducks are one of three teams that rank in the top 10 in scoring offense and scoring defense. Georgia and Notre Dame are the others. It would be a unique challenge for Nick Saban and Alabama. 

College Football Playoff predictions 

Date Bowl Projected matchup
Jan. 1 Rose Bowl Game (National semifinal) Michigan vs. Washington
Jan. 1 Allstate Sugar Bowl (National semifinal) Georgia vs. Florida State

Rose Bowl Game: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Washington 

Jim Harbaugh has yet to coach the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl, and there is a good chance that is going to happen against the Pac-12 champion – whether it’s Washington or Oregon. The contrast in styles here would be fantastic, and they have history. These teams have split four previous Rose Bowl matchups. 

Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Florida State  

Florida State remains a tricky candidate, and this would be a high spread knowing if the Bulldogs beat Alabama they would be on a 30-game winning streak coming into the Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs (4.83) and Seminoles (4.86) both allow less than 5.0 yards per play. Would this be a double-digit spread? 

College Football Playoff championship pick

Date Bowl Projected matchup
Jan. 8 CFP championship game at Houston Georgia vs. Michigan

CFP championship game: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 2 Michigan 

Georgia and Michigan could still make the CFP if they lose on conference championship weekend. These have been the two most complete teams on both sides – though Oregon would have a strong argument if it can win the Pac-12 championship. J.J. McCarthy (176.8) and Carson Beck (168.2) rank fifth and eighth, respectively, in quarterback efficiency. 


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