Bowl projections: Florida State jumps into College Football Playoff at Ohio State’s expense after Clemson loss

Florida State’s dominant victory over LSU on Sunday, coupled with Duke’s domination of Clemson on Monday, has caused some shuffling among not only the New Year’s Six bowl projections but the College Football Playoff itself. This after just one week of the 2023 season.

The Seminoles rocket up to No. 3 in the projected CFP Rankings, therefore moving into the playoff field itself. This after they were projected to remain in a New Year’s Six bowl game earlier Monday. Why? 

College football can be a fickle game sometimes. Clemson’s variety of mind-numbing miscues turned what would have been a tough road win into a Duke rout. While we do not overreact to Week 1 results, it is not quite an overreaction to say that Clemson does not look like a team ready to challenge Florida State in the ACC.

That means FSU is now projected to be an undefeated ACC champion. The result of which is Alabama moving to No. 4 in the projected playoff and Ohio State falling out of the field. At this juncture, that would give us a rematch of the projected SEC Championship Game between Georgia and Alabama as a CFP semifinal at the Sugar Bowl.

College Football Playoff

Jan. 8

National Championship

Title game Semifinal winners

Jan. 1

Rose Bowl
Pasadena, Calif.


(2) Michigan vs. (3) Florida State

Jan. 1

Sugar Bowl
New Orleans


(1) Georgia  vs. (4) Alabama

Ohio State moves into Orange Bowl — a spot previously held by Penn State — as the highest-rated team among those available from the Big Ten, SEC and Notre Dame. The Buckeyes are matched against North Carolina, now projected to be the second-best ACC team.

When the Big Ten is in the Orange Bowl, the ACC gets the Big Ten’s spot in the ReliaQuest Bowl, so Clemson fills that role.

Penn State, meanwhile, shifts over to the Peach Bowl. I also decided to swap LSU and Texas from Monday’s projection for geographic and matchup reasons.

Washington demolished Boise State, 56-19, in Seattle. That’s a score that is hard to ignore. It is the kind of result that could lead to the Broncos missing out on a New Year’s Six game if the Group of Five representative is a competitive race down the stretch, as I expect it will be. As such, Tulane is now being projected to return to the New Year’s Six.  

The Huskies figure to benefit from that result as well as they become the second Pac-12 team in the New Year’s Six facing the Green Wave in the Fiesta Bowl. Washington’s ascension to the New Year’s Six projection knocked out Kansas State.

New Year’s Six bowl games

Jan. 1

Fiesta Bowl
Glendale, Ariz.

at-large vs. at-large

Washington vs. Tulane

Dec. 30

Orange Bowl


North Carolina vs. Ohio State

Dec. 30

Peach Bowl

at-large vs. at-large

Penn State vs. LSU

Dec. 29

Cotton Bowl
Arlington, Tex.

at-large vs. at-large

USC vs. Texas

There are only 79 teams expected to be bowl eligible this season, which makes room for three teams to get in with 5-7 records. This week, those teams are Wake Forest, Boston College and Michigan State. As a reminder, those teams are chosen based on the most recent APR rankings. Last season, Rice became the first 5-7 team to play in a bowl game due to a lack of eligible teams since 2016.

Don’t see your team? Check out Jerry Palm’s complete bowl projections as Week 1 reaches its conclusion.

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