Clemson strengthened its path to the College Football Playoff with Saturday night’s win over N.C. State and is a major mover in the updated Week 6 bowl projections. The Kansas Jayhawks, who have not reached the postseason since 2008, are one win away from getting there after beating Iowa State, 14-11.
Quarterback Jalon Daniels continued his coming out party nationally and one of the nation’s most valuable players and added a touchdown to his Big 12-leading total on the season. The Tigers and the Jayhawks are red-hot and will be joined in this week’s rankings and bowl projections by fellow unbeaten TCU and UCLA, who each record impressive wins over nationally-ranked competition.
Oklahoma struggled mightily each of the past two games under first-year coach Brent Venables, surrendering 96 total points to start its Big 12 season without a win. The Sooners should get to a bowl game this fall, but this week’s projection is far below New Year’s Six expectations this program had a few weeks ago.
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Here’s a look at our updated bowl projections for every game moving into Week 6.
Projected matchup: Middle Tennessee vs. Ball State
Blue Raiders coach Rick Stockstill toned down the postgame comments following Friday night’s home loss to UTSA that followed last week’s triumphant win over Miami, but one of the opening month’s top upsets still holds value. Middle Tennessee will get to bowl eligibility this season, but it’s difficult to determine where the Blue Raiders land and who they play.
Projected matchup: UTSA vs. San Jose State
Projected matchup: UTEP vs. Kent State
Projected matchup: Miami vs. SMU
New Mexico Bowl
Projected matchup: Air Force vs. North Texas
Las Vegas Bowl
Projected matchup: UCLA vs. Mississippi State
These two teams are heading in the right direction this season. UCLA’s unbeaten following a nationally-ranked win over Washington while Mississippi State’s win over Texas A&M pushed the Bulldogs to 4-1 overall.
Armed Forces Bowl
Projected matchup: Kansas State vs. BYU
Los Angeles Bowl
Projected matchup: Fresno State vs. Washington State
Lending Tree Bowl
Projected matchup: Ohio vs. Georgia Southern
Projected matchup: Nevada vs. Tulsa
Myrtle Beach Bowl
Projected matchup: Coastal Carolina vs. Western Kentucky
Does Coastal Carolina deserve a spot inside the Week 6 AP Poll? The Chanticleers are unbeaten and if they continue winning, there’s a chance the New Year’s Six murmurs will begin. Keep an eye on Grayson McCall and his continued development as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. He’s thrown 14 touchdown passes to one interception this season.
Boca Raton Bowl
Projected matchup: Arkansas State vs. Miami (Ohio)
Idaho Potato Bowl
Projected matchup: Eastern Michigan vs. Wyoming
New Orleans Bowl
Projected matchup: UAB vs. Louisiana
Projected matchup: Army vs. UCF
Projected matchup: LSU vs. Texas Tech
LSU won four-straight games since a season-opening loss to Florida State, a credit to first-year coach Brian Kelly picking his players off the mat and battling through adversity. Texas Tech beat Texas last week, but suffered a setback against Kansas State on Saturday to further complicate the top of the Big 12 standings.
Projected matchup: North Carolina vs. ECU
Guaranteed Rate Bowl
Projected matchup: Michigan State vs. Texas
Projected matchup: Houston vs. Appalachian State
Quick Lane Bowl
Projected matchup: Purdue vs. Toledo
Projected matchup: Texas A&M vs. Kansas
The Jayhawks are unbeaten, and Jalon Daniels is high on the list of Heisman contenders. Neither of those are misprints. Kansas is college football’s best story this season and has a chance to go from worst to first in the Big 12 race. Texas A&M’s season, on the other hand, is on the brink of collapse after a loss to Mississippi State.
Projected matchup: Syracuse vs. Washington
Projected matchup: Duke vs. Iowa
First Responder Bowl
Projected matchup: Memphis vs. Oklahoma
Projected matchup: Liberty vs. Tulane
Projected matchup: Oregon vs. Baylor
Oregon is a certified contender in the Pac-12 title race thanks to four consecutive wins. The race out West is too close to call at this point, but theses are bowl projections, and we’re trying. Defending Big 12 champion Baylor lost at home to Oklahoma State and falls out of the New Year’s Six this week as our projected league champion.
Projected matchup: Wake Forest vs. TCU
Projected matchup: Boise State vs. Western Michigan
Projected matchup: UNLV vs. South Alabama
Projected matchup: Oregon State vs. Florida State
The Seminoles fell from the ranks of the unbeatens against Wake Forest, struggling to stop the Demon Deacons’ offense at home. And now, with Clemson starting its ACC slate with two major wins, Florida State faces an uphill climb in getting to the league championship game. Nonetheless, this team is equipped to finish high in the conference standings and should enjoy a nice bowl trip to wrap things up this fall.
Music City Bowl
Projected matchup: Wisconsin vs. Florida
Projected matchup: Pittsburgh vs. Maryland
Projected matchup: Illinois vs. Kentucky
Anyone else have Illinois as a contender in the Big Ten West through Week 5? The Fighting Illini are 4-1 following their dominant win over Wisconsin and now, move into the upper tier of the league’s bowl tie-ins. Kentucky drops down a spot this week after suffering its first loss on the road to Ole Miss. The Wildcats had a chance to win, but fumbled away their opportunity, twice.
Projected matchup: Minnesota vs. Ole Miss
Projected matchup: Notre Dame vs. Arkansas
Projected matchup: Utah vs. Cincinnati
Clark Phillips picked off three passes during Utah’s win over Oregon State, the latest statement victory for a Utes team that has looked dominant since losing to Florida in Week 1. In this Cotton Bowl projection, Utah would be the Pac-12’s second-place team behind a different champion. Cincinnati gets to the Cotton as the Group of Five champion as long as the Bearcats win out and their only loss of the campaign is the Week 1 decision at Arkansas.
Projected matchup: NC State vs. Penn State
Can NC State run the table the rest of the way? That’s likely what it takes to get to the New Year’s Six, but this is a strong team and if a couple breaks go the Wolfpack’s way, perhaps Saturday night’s loss at Clemson would’ve had a different outcome. Penn State moved into our New Year’s Six projections last week and avoided an upset in Week 5 by holding off Northwestern. Penn State’s toughest games are in the coming weeks, but this team has 10-2 written all over it with a strong finish.
Projected matchup: Tennessee vs. Oklahoma State
Tennessee tastes Sugar this season. The Volunteers’ first unbeaten start through five weeks since 2016 pushed Hendon Hooker’s squad into the top 10 of the Week 5 AP Poll and Tennessee will continue its rise with a win over LSU next week. The program’s first win over Florida in six years last month was punctuated by Hooker’s near flawless performance from in and around the pocket in front of a sold-out crowd at Neyland Stadium. Oklahoma State is our projected champion in the Big 12 following Saturday’s win at Baylor.
Projected matchup: Michigan vs. USC
Will Michigan get back to the College Football Playoff? It’s possible. One of the Wolverines’ toughest games is behind them after Saturday’s win at Iowa as Jim Harbaugh exorcised personal demons at Kinnick Stadium. We all know the game that’s circled at the end of November, but there are more opponents to conquer first. USC is the projected Pac-12 champion, but that’s subject to change.
Projected matchup: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Georgia
From No. 1 seed to No. 4 seed in one week after a narrow win at Mizzou, it’s hard to determine where the Bulldogs are going to fall in the postseason. On one hand, the Bulldogs could correct the lack of a rushing attack by the end of the year and running the table to maintain the top spot in the playoff, but one loss the rest of the way feels more likely now. Who knows if that comes during the regular season or against Alabama in the league title game. Ohio State looks unstoppable at this time in the Big Ten, despite a few injury concerns.
Projected matchup: No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Clemson
Given the fact there’s no chance the Playoff committee pits Alabama-Georgia Part II in a semifinal scenario given the projected SEC championship matchup, slot Clemson in the No. 3 hole this week in Atlanta. The Tigers, who should go unbeaten now that they beat two of the toughest opponents on the schedule in consecutive weeks, would get the nod over a one-loss Georgia squad in this spot.
Projected matchup: No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Alabama
This isn’t going to make any new friends in Athens, but the defending national champs haven’t looked like a team capable of winning a national championship over the past two weeks during wins over Kent State and Missouri. Alabama will certainly look different too if quarterback Bryce Young’s shoulder injury is serious, but that remains to be seen. For now, and it’s certainly debatable, these are the two best teams in college football through five weeks of the season.
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