The last rankings of the year will come out on Sunday, as the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six bowls are decided. Here’s a projection for how the selection process will play out, and what the final rankings will look like.

The Projected Playoff

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Washington

After all that controversy about whether Michigan would get in over the Big Ten Champion, the favorites won in the Pac-12 and ACC title games, rendering that discussion relatively meaningless. There’s a very, very slight chance Penn State could jump Washington, but it’s hard to make the case for that. The Huskies have one fewer loss and just dominated Colorado.

The New Year’s Six Teams

Big Ten Rose Bowl Rep: No. 5 Penn State
Pac-12 Rose Bowl Rep: No. 9 USC

ACC Orange Bowl Rep: No. 10 Florida State
SEC/Big Ten Orange Bowl Rep: No. 6 Michigan

SEC Sugar Bowl Rep: No. 13 Auburn
Big 12 Sugar Bowl Rep: No. 7 Oklahoma

Group of Five Rep: No. 16 Western Michigan

At-large Bid: No. 8 Wisconsin

These games will be fairly non-controversial, too. Penn State is locked into the Rose Bowl, Western Michigan is locked into the Cotton Bowl and Oklahoma is locked into the Sugar Bowl. Michigan is essentially locked into the Orange Bowl, because it will take the best available SEC or Big Ten team, and it’s impossible to see how that will be anyone but the Wolverines. The Sugar Bowl also gets the SEC’s top-ranked non-Playoff team, and there’s virtually no way that’s anyone but Auburn.

The only somewhat contested spots are the Pac-12’s Rose Bowl representative, the ACC’s Orange Bowl rep and the at-large spot, but even those spots have clear favorites. The Pac-12’s Rose Bowl rep will be either Colorado and USC. After a blowout loss to Washington, it’s likely the Buffaloes move below the Trojans. Wisconsin would probably have to fall below No. 10 to lose the at-large spot, which is unlikely.

The most contested big will be for the ACC’s spot in the Orange Bowl. It goes to the highest-ranked non-Playoff ACC team. Florida State is currently ranked ahead of Louisville, but the Cardinals beat the Seminoles, 63-20, earlier in the season. Perhaps the committee could reverse course.

Alabama v Arkansas

Projected rankings

  1. Alabama (no change from previous College Football Playoff rankings)
  2. Ohio State (no change)
  3. Clemson (no change)
  4. Washington (no change)
  5. Penn State (+2)
  6. Michigan (-1)
  7. Oklahoma (+1)
  8. Wisconsin (-2)
  9. USC (+2)
  10. Florida State (+2)
  11. Louisville (+2)
  12. Colorado (-4)
  13. Auburn (+1)
  14. Oklahoma State (-4)
  15. West Virginia (+1)
  16. Western Michigan (+1)
  17. Stanford (+1)
  18. Florida (-3)
  19. Utah (+1)
  20. LSU (+1)
  21. Tennessee (+1)
  22. Houston (+2)
  23. Virginia Tech (no change)
  24. Pitt (+1)
  25. Iowa (+1)

About Kevin Trahan

Kevin mostly covers college football and college basketball, with an emphasis on NCAA issues and other legal issues in sports. He is also an incoming law student. He's written for SB Nation, USA Today, VICE Sports, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.