Bowl Projections: Which teams make the first College Football Playoff?
Championship week is here, and the bowl picture is taking shape. We’re on the verge of finding out the teams that will play in the first College Football Playoff.
Nothing changed at the top of SI.com’s Bowl Projections after rivalry week. The most notable fallout occurred among the participants in the other New Year’s Six bowls. Losses by Georgia and UCLA paved the way for Arizona and Ole Miss to potentially sneak into the mix. The Group of Five’s representative also changed, with Boise State moving ahead of Marshall following’s the Thundering Herd’s 67-66 overtime defeat to Western Kentucky.
Before moving forward, a quick reminder on how this all works. The selection committee fills the two semifinal bowls based on its final rankings. It then rounds out the four non-playoff New Year’s Six bowls, while fulfilling certain contractual obligations, such as pitting an ACC team against an SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame team in the Orange Bowl. The remaining teams are then fed into each league’s contract bowls. If a league doesn’t produce enough bowl-eligible teams, bowls can invite replacement teams from other leagues.
This season the ACC, Big Ten and SEC have each pooled a select number of bowls together and will decide where to place teams. While the Big 12 and Pac-12 use a more straightforward method -- the Pac-12’s No. 2 choice would go to the Alamo Bowl, the No. 3 to the Holiday Bowl, etc. -- the process for the other three Power Five leagues is less structured. For instance, the ACC’s No. 2 choice will go to the Russell Athletic Bowl, but teams Nos. 3-6 can land anywhere among the Sun, Belk, Music City/Taxslayer or Pinstripe bowls.
Keep in mind, “Pac-12 No. 2” doesn't mean the Pac-12’s second-place team. Fan travel and geographical location factor into bowl selection as much as conference standings. Thus, leagues aren't obligated to fill bowls based on records.
|Peach||Dec. 31||Atlanta||TBD vs. TBD||Ole Miss vs. Ohio State|
|Fiesta||Dec. 31||Glendale, Ariz.||TBD vs. TBD||Arizona vs. Boise State|
|Orange||Dec. 31||Miami||ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND||Ga. Tech vs. Miss. State|
|Cotton||Jan. 1||Arlington, Texas||TBD vs. TBD||TCU vs. Mich. State|
|Rose (semifinal)||Jan. 1||Pasadena, Calif.||TBD vs. TBD||Oregon vs. Florida State|
|Sugar (semifinal)||Jan. 1||New Orleans||TBD vs. TBD||Alabama vs. Baylor|
|New Orleans||Dec. 20||New Orleans||MWC vs. Sun Belt||Fresno State vs. UL-Laf.|
|New Mexico||Dec. 20||Albuquerque, N.M.||C-USA vs. MWC||La. Tech vs. Utah State|
|Las Vegas||Dec. 20||Las Vegas||MWC vs. Pac-12||Colo. State vs. Stanford|
|Idaho Potato||Dec. 20||Boise, Idaho||MAC vs. MWC||Nevada vs. Toledo|
|Camellia||Dec. 20||Montgomery, Ala.||MAC vs. Sun Belt||BGSU vs. Ark. State|
|Miami Beach||Dec. 22||Miami||AAC vs. BYU||Memphis vs. BYU*|
|Boca Raton||Dec. 23||Boca Raton, Fla.||C-USA vs. MAC||WKU vs. W. Michigan|
|Poinsettia||Dec. 23||San Diego||MWC vs. Navy||SDSU vs. Navy|
|Bahamas||Dec. 24||Nassau, Bahamas||C-USA vs. MAC||Rice vs. C. Michigan|
|Hawaii||Dec. 24||Honolulu||C-USA vs. MWC||UTEP vs. Air Force|
|Heart of Dallas||Dec. 26||Dallas||Big Ten vs. C-USA||Rutgers vs. Marshall|
|Quick Lane||Dec. 26||Detroit||ACC vs. Big Ten||Va. Tech vs. Illinois|
|Bitcoin||Dec. 26||St. Petersburg||AAC vs. ACC||Cincinnati vs. Pitt|
|Military||Dec. 27||Annapolis, Md.||AAC vs. ACC||UCF vs. BC|
|Sun||Dec. 27||El Paso, Texas||ACC vs. Pac-12||Louisville vs. Utah|
|Independence||Dec. 27||Shreveport, La.||ACC vs. SEC||UNC vs. Arkansas|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 27||Bronx, N.Y.||ACC vs. Big Ten||Notre Dame vs. PSU|
|Holiday||Dec. 27||San Diego||Big Ten vs. Pac-12||Nebraska vs. USC|
|Liberty||Dec. 29||Memphis||Big 12 vs. SEC||WVU vs. Tennessee|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 29||Orlando, Fla.||ACC vs. Big 12||Clemson vs. Oklahoma|
|Texas||Dec. 29||Houston||Big 12 vs. SEC||Texas vs. Auburn|
|Music City||Dec. 30||Nashville||ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC||Miami vs. Texas A&M|
|Belk||Dec. 30||Charlotte, N.C.||ACC vs. SEC||Duke vs. So. Carolina|
|Foster Farms||Dec. 30||Santa Clara, Calif.||Big Ten vs. Pac-12||Iowa vs. UCLA|
|Citrus||Jan. 1||Orlando, Fla.||Big Ten vs. SEC||Wisconsin vs. Missouri|
|Outback||Jan. 1||Tampa, Fla.||Big Ten vs. SEC||Minnesota vs. Georgia|
|Armed Forces||Jan. 2||Fort Worth, Texas||ACC vs. Army||Houston vs. NC State**|
|TaxSlayer||Jan. 2||Jacksonville, Fla.||ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC||Maryland vs. LSU|
|Alamo||Jan. 2||San Antonio||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||K-State vs. Ariz. State|
|Cactus||Jan. 2||Tempe, Ariz.||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Tex. State** vs. Wash.|
|Birmingham||Jan. 3||Birmingham, Ala.||AAC vs. SEC||E. Carolina vs. Florida|
|GoDaddy||Jan. 4||Mobile, Ala.||MAC vs. Sun Belt||NIU vs. So. Alabama|
* -- Accepted bowl bid
** -- Replacement team