Just when it seemed like everything was sort of making sense, the unpredictable nature of college football again reminded us not to get too comfortable.
Iowa’s stunning home loss to Purdue added another twist to the playoff picture as an expected showdown between the potentially unbeaten Hawkeyes and the winner of ridiculously tough the Big Ten East won’t be happening. It’s now a stretch for the league to place more than one team in the playoff, creating some drama when the quartet of Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State start playing each other next week. What happens if a two-loss team makes it out of the division? The Buckeyes are the favorite – for now – to win the league and reach the semifinal, but there’s not as much margin for error after Iowa’s defeat.
Oklahoma’s quarterback switch appears to have lit a fuse with the Sooners, making their outlook more positive. The Sooners were already on track to win the Big 12, but an added boost to their offense makes their playoff position more secure ahead of a difficult November schedule.
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In the SEC, Alabama bounced back from its loss to Texas A&M by cruising past Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide’s playoff path is pretty clear. Win the rest of their scheduled games and then beat Georgia for the SEC title. A loss to the Bulldogs likely keeps them out of the field and would open the door for Cincinnati or possibly a champion from the ACC or Pac-12. The Bulldogs still seem assured of a spot in the field as long as they avoid a loss before the conference title game. Only Florida appears capable of picking them off.
There are changes outside the College Football Playoff projection with Texas, Arizona State and Iowa all falling out of their New Year’s Six spots after losses. Moving up are Oklahoma State, Utah and Michigan.
Reminder: Notre Dame is part of the ACC bowl pool. Some conferences may not fulfill their bowl allotment. Asterisks denote a replacement pick.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College football bowl projections: Iowa loss changes playoff picture