College football bowl projections: Week 1 another wild one in the SEC

Alabama beat up Florida State and South Carolina outlasted up-and-comer North Carolina State to highlight a solid Week 1 showing by the SEC.

Elsewhere, Southern California survived an upset bid by a P.J. Fleck-less Western Michigan squad, Michigan manhandled a lifeless Florida offense and Texas A&M collapsed against UCLA in historic fashion.

College football’s opening week is always fun, and 2017 proved to be no exception. Florida State’s disheartening loss to Alabama, coupled with the massive blow of losing quarterback Deondre Francois for the season, underscores how wide open the ACC could be this season. Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan all look like legitimate contenders in the Big Ten, and in the Pac-12, Washington and Stanford seem poised to knock Southern Cal from its No. 4 perch.

Here’s how SEC Country expects the college football postseason to shake out in the bowl projections this week:

Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1, New Orleans) — CFP No. 1 Alabama No. 4 Clemson Top 4, Playoff rankings
Rose Bowl (Jan. 1, Pasadena) — CFP No. 2 Ohio State No. 3 Washington Top 4, Playoff rankings
Peach Bowl (Jan. 1, Atlanta) — NY6 Georgia South Florida At-large vs. at-large
Orange Bowl (Dec. 30, Miami) — NY6 Penn State Miami SEC/Big Ten/ND vs. ACC #1
Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 30, Glendale) — NY6 Wisconsin Stanford At-large vs. at-large
Cotton Bowl (Dec. 29, Arlington) — NY6 Auburn Oklahoma State At-large vs. at-large
Wild Wings Bowl (Jan. 1, Orlando) South Carolina Virginia Tech SEC #2 vs. ACC/Big Ten
Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, Tampa) LSU Michigan SEC #3-8 vs. Big Ten #3-4
TaxSlayer Bowl (Dec. 30, Jacksonville) Texas A&M NC State SEC #3-8 vs. ACC/Big Ten
Liberty Bowl (Dec. 30, Memphis) Kentucky TCU SEC #3-8 vs. Big 12 #4
Music City Bowl (Dec. 29, Nashville) Mississippi State Minnesota SEC #3-8 vs. ACC/Big Ten
Belk Bowl (Dec. 29, Charlotte) Florida Louisville SEC #3-8 vs. ACC #4-7
Sun Bowl (Dec. 29, El Paso) Georgia Tech Colorado ACC #4-7 vs. Pac-12 #5
Alamo Bowl (Dec. 28, San Antonio) Oklahoma USC Big 12 #2 vs. Pac-12 #2
Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28, San Diego) Iowa Washington St Big Ten #3-4 vs. Pac-12 #3
Camping World Bowl (Dec. 28, Orlando) Florida State Kansas State ACC #3 vs. Big 12 #2
Military Bowl (Dec. 28, Annapolis) Syracuse Navy ACC #8-10 vs. American
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27, Houston) Tennessee Texas SEC #3-8 vs. Big 12 #3
Foster Farms Bowl (Dec. 27, Santa Clara) Michigan State Oregon Big Ten #5-7 vs. Pac-12 #4
Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 27, New York) Notre Dame Northwestern ACC #4-7 vs. Big Ten #5-7
Independence Bowl (Dec. 27, Shreveport) Vanderbilt** BYU SEC #10 vs. ACC #8-10
Cactus Bowl (Dec. 26, Tempe) Texas Tech Arizona Big 12 #5 vs. Pac-12 #7
Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 26, Detroit) Nebraska Pittsburgh Big Ten #8-9 vs. ACC #8-10
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dec. 26, Dallas) West Virginia MTSU Big 12 #6 vs. C-USA
Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 23, Fort Worth) Maryland Army Big Ten #8-9 vs. Army
Birmingham Bowl (Dec. 23, Birmingham) Arkansas Memphis SEC #9 vs. American
Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 16, Las Vegas) UCLA Colorado State Pac-12 #6 vs. MWC

Week 1 scores that shaped the College Football Playoff race

  • Alabama 24, Florida State 7: The Crimson Tide reminded everyone that they’ll always field a great defense under Nick Saban, regardless of how much talent they lose to the NFL. They’re the safest pick by far to go 12-0. Without Francois, the Seminoles could struggle with a conference schedule that features Miami, N.C. State, Louisville and Clemson.
  • Southern Cal 49, Western Michigan 31: To be clear, I lost faith in the Trojans hype as the offseason wore on; Week 1 only heightened my suspicions, even if Western Michigan is a quality Group of 5 program. Washington or Stanford feel like better picks at this point.
  • Michigan 33, Florida 17: Sure the Wolverines looked impressive, but this is more about the Gators looking U-G-L-Y on offense … again. No way do they score any points on LSU, Florida State or even Georgia and South Carolina if coach Jim McElwain cannot correct that offensive line. And we all know offensive line problems usually aren’t fixed in-season, anyway.
  • South Carolina 35, N.C. State 28: A couple of bigwig media folks touted the Wolfpack as a potential College Cootball Playoff contender, but South Carolina showed it can be a potential contender in a wide-open SEC East race. The Gamecocks still have to play Clemson, at Georgia, at Tennessee and at Texas A&M, but the rest of the schedule seems manageable.
  • Virginia Tech 31, West Virginia 24: Ex-Gators quarterback Will Grier looked great, but so did new Hokies quarterback Josh Jackson. Both of these teams could author a few upsets this season.

How the SEC contenders fared in Week 1

  • LSU: Beat BYU, 27-0. Like Alabama, the Tigers lost a bunch of talent on defense, but it didn’t matter. They squashed a BYU program that finished 9-4 last season. Derrius Guice steamrolled his way to 120 yards rushing on the offensive end. All in all, a great start for coach Ed Orgeron.
  • Auburn: Rolled through Georgia Southern, 41-7. Jarrett Stidham looked shaky at times, but he’s had a long layoff since his last college start in November 2015. Clemson should tell us much more about the makeup of this Tigers team, which looks great on paper. Nine or 10 wins seems within reach for now.
  • Georgia: Beat Appalachian State, 31-10. The bigger story is the health of quarterback Jacob Eason, who left the game early with a knee injury. It’s unclear how much time he might miss, but with freshman Jake Fromm starting at Notre Dame this weekend, the Irish have a good shot at winning.
  • Tennessee: Beat Georgia Tech, 42-41, in double overtime. Tennessee won this game in the most Tennessee fashion possible. Trailing by 14 points in the fourth quarter, in a game where the Vols had been outplayed to that point, Marquez Callaway, John Kelly and Rashaan Gaulden all made big plays before UT blocked a potential game-winning field goal attempt by Tech. Figuring out what this team might do on any given week will be challenging.
  • Texas A&M: Blew a 34-point lead in epic fashion. Holy cow, this still boggles the mind. The Aggies flashed what could make them great — a potent running game spearheaded by Trayveon Williams and Keith Ford — but the quarterback situation seems anything but settled, while the defense went from stout to silly in mystifying fashion. Forget Alabama, Auburn and LSU: A&M might have to worry about Arkansas if it plays like that again.

Projected 2017 SEC standings

SEC East SEC West
Georgia 10-2, 7-1 Alabama 12-0, 8-0
South Carolina 8-4, 5-3 Auburn 10-2, 7-1
Florida 7-5, 5-3 LSU 10-2, 6-2
Tennessee 7-5, 3-5 Arkansas 6-6, 3-5
Kentucky 6-6, 3-5 Texas A&M 6-6, 3-5
Vanderbilt 5-7, 1-7 MSU 6-6, 2-6
Missouri 4-8, 1-7 Ole Miss 6-6, 2-6

The outcomes of Clemson-Auburn, Georgia-Notre Dame and South Carolina-Missouri could certainly change these projections next weekend. For now, we can only go off what we’ve seen, which is Florida looking downright miserable on offense for the umpteenth consecutive year.

The post College football bowl projections: Week 1 another wild one in the SEC appeared first on SEC Country.

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