The College Football Playoff selection committee shook up its top four, with No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Miami and No. 4 Oklahoma all moving up, but undefeated Wisconsin is still on the outside looking in.
The Badgers moved up three spots to No. 5, but their win over No. 20 Iowa, which dropped out of the rankings this week, wasn’t enough to boost their strength of schedule to top-four caliber. No. 6 Auburn is the highest ranked two-loss team, and Georgia sank from No. 1 to No. 7 after being beaten soundly by Auburn.
The Big Ten again leads the way with six ranked teams, including three in the top 10. No. 24 Michigan enters this week’s top 25, which helps the Badgers, who host the Wolverines on Saturday in the most consequential game of the weekend.
At No. 15, undefeated UCF remains the highest-ranked team from a Group of Five conference and is the leading contender for a New Year’s Six bowl.
Here’s what the bracket would look like today:
As for the other New Year’s Six bowls, here’s a projection based on the current rankings:
The Capital One Orange Bowl is guaranteed the ACC champion, but with projected champion Clemson and runner-up Miami both in a semifinal, it would choose the next highest-ranked ACC team, which is No. 19 NC State. The Orange Bowl must then select a non-champion from the Big Ten or SEC, or Notre Dame. In this case, No. 6 Auburn would be selected as the highest-ranked available team meeting that criteria.
There is no limit to how many teams from one conference can qualify for a New Year’s Six game, so it is possible for the ACC to have three teams in those bowls, considering Clemson and Miami would be in the Rose Bowl semifinal and NC State would be in the Orange Bowl.
Any displaced conference champion from the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC automatically gets a berth in one of the Cotton, Fiesta or Peach Bowls, which will take into account geography and fan interest when selecting its pairings. Since No. 11 USC, the projected Pac-12 champion in this ranking, and No. 5 Wisconsin can’t go to their traditional spots in the Rose Bowl, this projection has them faced off against each other in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.
The next highest-ranked team available is No. 7 Georgia, which makes sense for the nearby Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta. The Bulldogs would likely face UCF, which is guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl as the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion.
No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 9 Ohio State, the highest-ranked teams still available, would head to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
Here’s what the New Year’s Six and New Year’s Day would look like, based on this week’s rankings:
(All games can be seen on ESPN and the ESPN App)
Friday, Dec. 29
8:30 p.m. ET: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 9 Ohio State vs. No. 8 Notre Dame (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas)
Saturday, Dec. 30
4 p.m. ET: PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: No. 11 USC vs. No. 5 Wisconsin (University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona)
8 p.m. ET: Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 19 NC State vs. No. 6 Auburn (Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida)
Monday, Jan. 1
12:30 p.m. ET: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 15 UCF vs. No. 7 Georgia (Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta)
5 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual: No. 3 Miami vs. No. 2 Clemson (Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California)
8:45 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Alabama (Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans)
Monday, Jan. 8
8 p.m. ET: College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T (Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta)