There’s a wide range of confidence levels in SI.com's bowl projections after Week 6. For instance, you probably won’t be surprised to see Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson in the projected College Football Playoff field. Washington claiming the fourth spot isn’t exactly shocking either.
But then there are the projections that after six weeks of games still feel very much like guesswork. Like picking which Pac-12 team will play in the Rose Bowl if Washington does make the playoff. A Stanford team coming off two blowout defeats? Washington State, which lost its first two games of the season, including one to an FCS foe, but has been hot ever since? Or Utah, which lost to a Cal squad that fell to lowly Oregon State this week?
And then there’s sorting out how the ACC Coastal will play out after Miami lost to Florida State and Virginia Tech thumped North Carolina. Despite these difficulties, we do our best to take the information we have and make informed predictions. At least some things are certain: 6–0 Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Texas A&M, Washington and Western Michigan will be bowling this winter.
A reminder about how the college football postseason works: The playoff selection committee will choose the teams for the two playoff semifinals—the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl this year—and the four other marquee bowls that are part of the New Year’s Six. The highest ranked Group of Five conference champion must play in one of those six games, and other games, such as the Rose Bowl, have conference tie-ins.
The remaining bowl games are also governed by agreements with the 10 FBS conferences, though if a league doesn’t produce enough bowl-eligible teams to fulfill all of its tie-ins, that bowl can select another conference’s representative. In some cases, leagues will pool together their bowl tie-ins to create more flexibility. The Music City Bowl, for example, can choose either an ACC or Big Ten team to face an SEC opponent.
And lastly, just because a bowl may be designated to have a particular order of selection among a conference’s teams doesn’t mean it has to adhere exactly to the standings. The Alamo Bowl’s second choice among Pac-12 teams, for example, does not require it to choose the No. 2 available team from the Pac-12 standings or from the playoff committee’s rankings. Other factors, such as location, the matchup, the size of a school’s fan base and the willingness of that fan base to travel, can influence bowls’ decisions.
New Year's Six bowls
|Peach (semifinal)||Dec. 31||Atlanta||TBD vs. TBD||Alabama vs. Washington|
|Fiesta (semifinal)||Dec. 31||Glendale, Ariz.||TBD vs. TBD||Ohio State vs. Clemson|
|Orange||Dec. 30||Miami||ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND||Louisville vs. Tennessee|
|Cotton||Jan. 2||Arlington, Texas||TBD vs. TBD||Western Michigan vs. Wisconsin|
|Rose||Jan. 2||Pasadena, Calif.||Big Ten vs. Pac-12||Michigan vs. Utah|
|Sugar||Jan. 2||New Orleans||SEC vs. Big 12||Texas A&M vs. Baylor|
|New Mexico||Dec. 17||Albuquerque, N.M,||C-USA vs. MW||Old Dominion vs. Wyoming|
|Las Vegas||Dec. 17||Las Vegas||MW vs. Pac-12||Boise State vs. Colorado|
|Camellia||Dec. 17||Montgomery, Ala.||MAC vs. Sun Belt||Eastern Michigan vs. New Mexico State|
|Cure||Dec. 17||Orlando, Fla.||AAC vs. Sun Belt||Tulsa vs. Georgia Southern|
|New Orleans||Dec. 17||New Orleans||Sun Belt vs. C-USA||Appalachian State vs. Southern Miss|
|Miami Beach||Dec. 19||Miami||AAC vs. MAC||Temple vs. Central Michigan|
|Boca Raton||Dec. 20||Boca Raton, Fla.||AAC vs. C-USA||Memphis vs. Louisiana Tech|
|Poinsettia||Dec. 21||San Diego||BYU vs. MW||BYU vs. Air Force|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Dec. 22||Boise, Idaho||MAC vs. MW||Toledo vs. San Diego State|
|Bahamas||Dec. 23||Nassau, Bahamas||AAC vs. MAC||UConn vs. Ball State|
|Armed Forces||Dec. 23||Fort Worth, Texas||Big 12 vs. Navy||Kansas State vs. Navy|
|Dollar General||Dec. 23||Mobile, Ala.||MAC vs. Sun Belt||Ohio vs. Troy|
|Hawaii||Dec. 24||Honolulu||C-USA vs. MW||Western Kentucky vs. Akron*|
|St. Petersburg||Dec. 26||St. Petersburg, Fla.||ACC vs. AAC||Wake Forest vs. South Florida|
|Quick Lane||Dec. 26||Detroit||ACC vs. Big Ten||NC State vs. Maryland|
|Independence||Dec. 26||Shreveport, La.||ACC vs. SEC||Georgia Tech vs. Cincinnati*|
|Heart of Dallas||Dec. 27||Dallas||Big Ten vs. C-USA||Texas Tech* vs. Middle Tennessee|
|Military||Dec. 27||Annapolis, Md.||ACC vs. AAC||Army* vs. Houston|
|Holiday||Dec. 27||San Diego||Big Ten vs. Pac-12||Indiana vs. Arizona State|
|Cactus||Dec. 27||Phoenix||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Texas vs. Washington State|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 28||New York||ACC vs. Big Ten||North Carolina vs. Minnesota|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 28||Orlando, Fla.||ACC vs. Big 12||Florida State vs. TCU|
|Foster Farms||Dec. 28||Santa Clara, Calif.||Big Ten vs. Pac-12||Penn State vs. USC|
|Texas||Dec. 28||Houston||Big 12 vs. SEC||Oklahoma State vs. Georgia|
|Birmingham||Dec. 29||Birmingham, Ala.||AAC vs. SEC||Tulane vs. Kentucky|
|Belk||Dec. 29||Charlotte, N.C.||ACC vs. SEC||Virginia Tech vs. Auburn|
|Alamo||Dec. 29||San Antonio||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Oklahoma vs. Stanford|
|Arizona||Dec. 30||Tucson, Ariz.||MW vs. Sun Belt||New Mexico vs. South Alabama|
|Liberty||Dec. 30||Memphis, Tenn.||Big 12 vs. SEC||West Virginia vs. LSU|
|Sun||Dec. 30||El Paso, Texas||ACC vs. Pac-12||Pittsburgh vs. UCLA|
|Music City||Dec. 30||Nashville, Ten..||ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC||Michigan State vs. Missouri|
|TaxSlayer||Dec. 31||Jacksonville, Fla.||ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC||Miami vs. Arkansas|
|Citrus||Dec. 31||Orlando, Fla.||Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC||Iowa vs. Ole Miss|
|Outback||Jan. 2||Tampa, Fla.||Big Ten vs. SEC||Nebraska vs. Florida|