One week ago, Ohio State controlled its destiny as a top-four team. Now the defending champion Buckeyes are at risk of missing a New Year’s Six Bowl.
In our latest bowl projections, Ohio State’s 17-14 loss to Michigan State put the Spartans firmly in position for the Big Ten title and, consequently, a spot in the College Football Playoff. In that scenario, the Iowa squad that loses to the Spartans in the conference championship game would slide into the Big Ten’s Rose Bowl spot. That’d mean the Buckeyes, who’d lose next week’s game at Michigan in our projections, would land in the Citrus Bowl. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma now finds itself as a top-four team by virtue of its win over TCU and Oklahoma State’s loss to Baylor. Michigan also lands in the Fiesta Bowl in an exceptionally intriguing matchup with Notre Dame.
This season 40 bowls make up the 2015 postseason: the New Year’s Six Bowls, which include the two playoff semifinals, and 34 lower-tier bowls. Before moving forward, here’s 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 the Big Ten against the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl. The committee is required to place the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion in a New Year’s Six 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.
Like last season, the ACC, Big Ten and SEC each pool a select number of bowls together and decide where to place teams. While the Big 12 and Pac-12 use a 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, the Pac-12’s No. 2 bowl doesn't automatically take the conference’s second-place team. Fan travel, location and matchup considerations all factor into bowl selection as much as conference standings. Leagues aren't obligated to fill bowls based on records.
|Orange Bowl (semifinal)||Dec. 31||Miami Gardens, Fla.||No. 1 vs. No. 4||Clemson vs. Oklahoma|
|Cotton Bowl (semifinal)||Dec. 31||Arlington, Tex.||No. 2 vs. No. 3||Alabama vs. Michigan St.|
|Peach Bowl||Dec. 31||Atlanta, Ga.||At-large vs. Group of Five||Florida St. vs. Houston|
|Fiesta Bowl||Jan. 1||Glendale, Ariz.||At-large vs. At-large||Notre Dame vs. Michigan|
|Rose Bowl||Jan. 1||Pasadena, Calif.||Big Ten vs. Pac-12||Iowa vs. Stanford|
|Sugar Bowl||Jan. 1||New Orleans, La.||SEC vs. Big 12||Florida vs. Baylor|
|New Orleans Bowl||Dec. 19||New Orleans, La.||Sun Belt vs. CUSA||Ark. St. vs. La. Tech|
|New Mexico Bowl||Dec. 19||Albequerque, N.M.||CUSA vs. MW||MTSU vs. New Mexico|
|Las Vegas Bowl||Dec. 19||Las Vegas||MW/BYU vs. Pac-12||BYU vs. Cal|
|Cure Bowl||Dec. 19||Orlando, Fla.||AAC vs. Sun Belt||UConn vs. Ga. South.|
|Camellia Bowl||Dec. 19||Montgomery, Ala.||MAC vs. Sun Belt||Ohio vs. App. St.|
|Miami Beach Bowl||Dec. 21||Miami, Fla.||AAC vs. CUSA||Cincinnati vs. So. Miss|
|Idaho Potato Bowl||Dec. 22||Boise, Idaho||MAC vs. MW||BGSU vs. Boise St.|
|Boca Raton Bowl||Dec. 22||Boca Raton, Fla.||AAC vs. MAC||USF vs. West. Mich.|
|Poinsettia Bowl||Dec. 23||San Diego, Calif.||MW vs. Army||SDSU vs. Cent. Mich.|
|GoDaddy Bowl||Dec. 23||Mobile, Ala.||MAC vs. Sun Belt||Toledo vs. South Ala.|
|Bahamas Bowl||Dec. 24||Nassau, Bahamas||CUSA vs. MAC||ODU vs. NIU|
|Hawaii Bowl||Dec. 24||Honolulu, Hawaii||AAC vs. MW/BYU||Tulsa vs. Utah State|
|Heart of Dallas Bowl||Dec. 26||Dallas, Tex.||Big 12/Big Ten vs. CUSA||ECU* vs. Western Ky.|
|St. Petersburg Bowl||Dec. 26||St. Petersburg, Fla.||AAC vs. CUSA||Memphis vs. Marshall|
|Sun Bowl||Dec. 26||El Paso, Tex.||ACC vs. Pac-12||NC State vs. Utah|
|Independence Bowl||Dec. 26||Shreveport, La.||ACC vs. SEC||Va. Tech vs. Nevada*|
|Foster Farms Bowl||Dec. 26||Santa Clara, Calif.||Big Ten vs. Pac-12||Indiana vs. Oregon|
|Pinstripe Bowl||Dec. 26||Bronx, N.Y.||ACC vs. Big Ten||Miami vs. Minnesota|
|Quick Lane Bowl||Dec. 28||Detroit, Mich.||ACC vs. Big Ten||Tulsa* vs. Akron*|
|Military Bowl||Dec. 28||Annapolis, Md.||ACC vs. AAC||Louisville vs. Navy|
|Arizona Bowl||Dec. 29||Tucson, Ariz||MW vs. CUSA||Air Force vs. Arizona|
|Russell Athletic Bowl||Dec. 29||Orlando, Fla.||ACC vs. Big 12||UNC vs. TCU|
|Texas Bowl||Dec. 29||Houston, Tex.||Big 12 vs. SEC||Tex. Tech vs. Tex. A&M|
|Armed Forces Bowl||Dec. 29||Fort Worth, Tex.||Big Ten/Big 12 vs. MW||Ariz. St.* vs. Colo. St.|
|Music City Bowl||Dec. 30||Nashville, Tenn.||ACC vs. SEC||Pitt vs. Miss. St.|
|Holiday Bowl||Dec. 30||San Diego, Calif.||Big Ten vs. Pac-12||Penn St. vs. UCLA|
|Belk Bowl||Dec. 30||Charlotte, N.C.||ACC vs. SEC||Duke vs. Arkansas|
|Birmingham Bowl||Dec. 30||Birmingham, Ala.||AAC vs. SEC||Temple vs. Georgia|
|Outback Bowl||Jan. 1||Tampa, Fla.||Big Ten vs. SEC||Wisconsin vs. Tenn.|
|Citrus Bowl||Jan. 1||Orlando, Fla.||Big Ten vs. SEC||Ohio St. vs. Ole Miss|
|Liberty Bowl||Jan. 2||Memphis, Tenn.||Big 12 vs. SEC||Kansas St. vs. Auburn|
|TaxSlayer Bowl||Jan. 2||Jacksonville, Fla.||Big Ten vs. SEC||Northwestern vs. LSU|
|Alamo Bowl||Jan. 2||San Antonio, Tex.||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Okla. St. vs. USC|
|Cactus Bowl||Jan. 2||Phoenix, Ariz.||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||W. Virginia vs. Wash. St.|