Bowl projections: Oklahoma continues strong start to strengthen College Football Playoff spot
Much of the preseason debate surrounding the College Football Playoff centered around which team would finish in fourth behind overwhelming favorites Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State.
The obvious contenders included Clemson and Oklahoma, which had won their respective conference championships for six consecutive seasons until being dethroned last fall. Michigan is hoping to return to the semifinals after its first appearance last year. Notre Dame started the year seeking its third trip in four years. There were contenders seeking their first appearance, like Texas A&M, Baylor, North Carolina State and Utah.
This bowl projections went with Oklahoma in the preseason and nothing has changed that opinion. In fact, the Sooners have only solidified their standing with three dominating efforts to start the Brent Venables era, mostly recently at Nebraska. No, they haven't faced the toughest competition, but previous versions of this group under Lincoln Riley never showed this type of defensive ability. Still a long way to go, but it's been a heck of a start.
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The only change in the New Year's Six sees Brigham Young fall out after its loss to Oregon. Moving up is North Carolina State. While the Wolfpack might not be as impressive as Southern California or a group of contenders from the SEC, they have a much easier schedule to navigate.
Note: An asterisk indicates a school that has replaced a conference pick.