The College Football Playoff picture, along with that of the rest of the bowls, came into much clearer focus on Saturday, with Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and Cincinnati appearing destined to make up the four-team playoff field.
Here's how it happened:
• No. 3 Alabama hammered No. 1 Georgia 41-24 in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, likely securing the top playoff seeding for the Crimson Tide (12-1).
• Georgia's loss to the Crimson Tide isn't expected to keep the Bulldogs (12-1) out of the playoff field because their regular-season body of work seems to have impressed the playoff committee enough.
• No. 4 Cincinnati defeated No. 21 Houston 35-20 at home in the American Athletic Conference title game, likely making the 13-0 Bearcats the first team from a Group of Five conference to be included in the playoff.
• No. 2 Michigan dominated No. 13 Iowa 42-3 in the Big Ten title game Saturday night in Indianapolis, with the Wolverines (12-1) in line to be the No. 2 seed.
Likely on the outside looking in is No. 6 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish (11-1), an independent team, couldn't bolster their argument with a conference title game victory.
No. 5 Oklahoma State fell out of playoff contention by absorbing a second loss, 21-16 to No. 9 Baylor in the Big 12 championship game in Arlington, Texas.
No. 15 Pittsburgh beat No. 16 Wake Forest 45-21 in the ACC championship game in Charlotte, N.C., and likely will play in the Peach Bowl. On Friday, Utah clinched a Rose Bowl berth with its 38-10 romp over Oregon in the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas.
Final word on the field will come at 11:15 a.m. on ESPN, when the semifinal pairings — in the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl on Dec. 31 — are announced. At 1:30 p.m., the matchups for the remaining New Year's Six bowls — Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Peach — will be announced on ESPN.
The remaining bowls, including where the Gophers and the rest of the Big Ten teams end up, will be determined after those announcements.
Here are college football writer Randy Johnson's bowl projections with the playoff, New Year's Six and the remaining Big Ten bowls:
College Football Playoff
Orange (playoff semifinal, Dec. 31, Miami Gardens, Fla.): No. 1 Alabama (12-1) vs. No. 4 Cincinnati (13-0)
Cotton (playoff semifinal, Dec. 31, Arlington, Texas): No. 2 Michigan (12-1) vs. No. 3 Georgia (12-1)
Championship: Jan. 10, Indianapolis
New Year's Six bowls
Rose (Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.): Ohio State (10-2) vs. Utah (10-3)#
Peach (Dec. 30, Atlanta): Pittsburgh (11-2) vs. Notre Dame (11-1)
Fiesta (Jan. 1, Glendale, Ariz.): Michigan State (10-2) vs. Oklahoma State (11-2)
Sugar (Jan. 1, New Orleans): Ole Miss (10-2) vs. Baylor (11-2)#
Other Big Ten bowls
Citrus (Jan. 1, Orlando): Iowa (10-3) vs. Kentucky (9-3)
Outback (Jan. 1, Tampa, Fla.): Wisconsin (8-4) vs. Arkansas (8-4)
Las Vegas (Dec. 30): Penn State (7-5) vs. Arizona State (8-4)
Music City (Dec. 30, Nashville): Purdue (8-4) vs. Tennessee (7-5)
Pinstripe (Dec. 29, New York): Maryland (6-6) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)
Guaranteed Rate (Dec. 28, Phoenix): Gophers (8-4) vs. West Virginia (6-6)