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What Week 15 means for the 2020 college football playoff picture + New Year’s Six bowls

Just like in Week 14, there isn’t much at the top that change in the CFP rankings, but there could be some movement for who plays in a NY6 bowl games.

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) celebrate a touchdown pass from Jones to Smith at Bryant-Denny Stadium during the second half of Alabama’s 41-0 win over Mississippi State. The Tuscaloosa News-USA TODAY Sports

Last weekend there weren’t any major upsets in college football as the top six teams in the College Football Playoff handled their business. Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Ohio State won their respective games in dominating fashion and will stay in their same spots with this being the final week of the regular season.

This weekend, we should see top six teams stay intact for another week as Alabama and Florida are the only ones in action. Clemson, Notre Dame, and Ohio State will be playing next week in their conference championship games. But we’re going to examine the two teams who are playing this weekend and if that will impact the New Year’s Six bowl games.

College Football Playoff

1. Alabama (9-0) vs. Arkansas - The Crimson Tide will have one more tune up game before they play the Florida Gators next weekend in the SEC title game. That game will have more implications on the College Football Playoff rankings and seeding.

But Alabama needs to get the win over the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday. Last week the Crimson Tide destroyed the LSU Tigers 55-17 in Baton Rouge. Heisman Trophy candidates quarterback Mac Jones and wide receiver DeVonta Smith were in sync and downright unstoppable. Jones was 20-of-28 for 385 yards and four touchdowns, while Smith had eight receptions for 231 yards and three touchdowns. This combo should be able to put up points against an Arkansas defense, which is allowing 33 points per game. Alabama is a 32-point favorite on Saturday.

2. Notre Dame (10-0) - The Fighting Irish capped their regular season with an impressive 45-21 win over the Syracuse Orange. Quarterback Ian Book made his case on why he should be in contention for the Heisman with 300-plus yards of total offense and five total touchdowns. Book and Co. will be trying to defeat Clemson for a second time next weekend in the ACC championship game.

3. Clemson (9-1) - Speaking of the Tigers, they got a resounding 45-10 victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies last weekend. In his second start since returning from COVID-19, Lawrence had 195 passing yards, a touchdown, an interception, along with 41 yards on the ground and two scores. The Tigers have outscored their opponents 97-27 in their last two games, and will try to avenge their only loss next week in the ACC title game.

4. Ohio State (5-0) - After having their game postponed against Illinois, the Ohio State Buckeyes knew that they had to put on a show versus Michigan State last Saturday. OSU did just that, winning 52-12, and setting themselves up with a date in the Big Ten championship game next week against No. 14 Northwestern.

It did not look like the Buckeyes would make the playoff because of only playing five regular season games, however the Big Ten changed the rules which allowed Ohio State to get in and not the Indiana Hoosiers. The Buckeyes were scheduled to play the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday but The Game was canceled due to COVID-19.

5. Texas A&M (7-1) - The Aggies didn’t make it easy on themselves last week, but still escaped with a 31-20 victory over the Auburn Tigers. With the win Texas A&M keeps their faint playoff hopes alive, despite not playing in the SEC title game.

The Aggies were scheduled to play Ole Miss on Saturday, but that game was also canceled due to COVID-19. So while all the attention will be on Bama-Florida next week, Texas A&M led by QB Kellen Mond will get one more chance to impress the committee against the Tennessee Volunteers.

6. Florida (8-1) vs. LSU - Just like Alabama, the Gators only have two jobs this weekend — beat LSU and make sure everybody comes out of the game healthy. With the way they’ve played this season, UF do not have much to prove in the regular season. Their best way to punch their way into the playoff is beating Alabama next weekend, which would give them a signature win.

New Year’s Six Bowl Games

For the New Year’s Six games, we have some shakeups as two-loss Iowa State Cyclones has moved up in the CFP rankings to No. 7. They leapfrogged the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats (8-0) and the two-loss Georgia Bulldogs. The Cyclones have all the moment on their side to shake things up as they play the No. 13-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 championship game.

Outside of the Power 5 schools, we saw undefeated Coastal Carolina (10-0) move up five spots to No. 13 after defeating the BYU Cougars last week in an absolute thriller in Conway, SC. The Chanaticleers wrap up the regular season Saturday against the Troy Trojans, and then will play the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns next weekend in the Sun Belt Conference title game.

The winner of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC are guaranteed an NY6 spot as a contract conference champion. One conference champion from a Group of Five conference (likely the AAC’s Cincinnati or the Sun Belt’s Coastal Carolina) will join them, and the other six spots will be filled by at-large teams chosen by the CFP Selection Committee. That committee has never chosen a team outside a Power Five conference as an at-large, with the exception of Notre Dame.

Week 15 Schedule

No. 1 Alabama vs. Arkansas
LSU vs. No. 6 Florida
No. 9 Georgia vs. Mizzou
No. 17 North Carolina vs. No. 10 Miami
No. 13 Coastal Carolina vs. Troy
Illinois vs. No. 14 Northwestern
No. 15 USC vs. UCLA
San Diego State vs. No. 18 BYU
Utah vs. No. 21 Colorado