College football 2015-16 bowl projections: Predicting the playoff, New Year's Six bowls after week 11.

By Zac Ellis
November 16, 2015

Three teams in the College Football Playoff selection committee’s current top four feel like near-locks for the bracket if they win out. The No. 4 spot, however, is less certain.

Our latest bowl projections keep Oklahoma State at No. 4 as an undefeated Big 12 champion. Now that Baylor, Oklahoma and TCU each have one loss, the Cowboys likely stand as the Big 12’s most realistic playoff contender. Whether or not they deserve the No. 4 spot over, say, a one-loss Iowa or Notre Dame is a legitimate debate. But SI.com projects the committee would favor Oklahoma State with a conference title and an undefeated record to its name, two factors the Hawkeyes and Fighting Irish wouldn’t be able to claim.

This year 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.

bOWL

DATE

LOCATION

MATCHUP

PICK

Orange Bowl (semifinal)

Dec. 31

Miami Gardens, Fla.

No. 1 vs. No. 4

Clemson vs. Okla. St.

Cotton Bowl (semifinal)

Dec. 31

Arlington, Tex.

No. 2 vs. No. 3

Alabama vs. Ohio State

Peach Bowl

Dec. 31

Atlanta, Ga.

At-large vs. Group of Five

Florida vs. Houston

Fiesta Bowl

Jan. 1

Glendale, Ariz.

At-large vs. At-large

Notre Dame vs. Mich. St.

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

LSU vs. Oklahoma

bowl

date

location

matchup

pick

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. Arizona

Cure Bowl

Dec. 19

Orlando, Fla.

AAC vs. Sun Belt

Tulsa 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

ECU vs. Utah State

Heart of Dallas Bowl

Dec. 26

Dallas, Tex.

Big 12/Big Ten vs. CUSA

Cal* 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. UCLA

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

Duke vs. Minnesota

Quick Lane Bowl

Dec. 28

Detroit, Mich.

ACC vs. Big Ten

Louisville vs. Akron*

Military Bowl

Dec. 28

Annapolis, Md.

ACC vs. AAC

Miami vs. Navy

Arizona Bowl

Dec. 29

Tucson, Ariz

MW vs. CUSA

Air Force vs. Rice

Russell Athletic Bowl

Dec. 29

Orlando, Fla.

ACC vs. Big 12

UNC vs. TCU

Texas Bowl

Dec. 29

Houston, Tex.

Big 12 vs. SEC

W. Virginia vs. Georgia

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. Arkansas

Holiday Bowl

Dec. 30

San Diego, Calif.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Penn St. vs. Utah

Belk Bowl

Dec. 30

Charlotte, N.C.

ACC vs. SEC

FSU vs. Texas A&M

Birmingham Bowl

Dec. 30

Birmingham, Ala.

AAC vs. SEC

Temple vs. Buffalo*

Outback Bowl

Jan. 1

Tampa, Fla.

Big Ten vs. SEC

Michigan vs. Tenn.

Citrus Bowl

Jan. 1

Orlando, Fla.

Big Ten vs. SEC

Wisc. vs. Ole Miss

Liberty Bowl

Jan. 2

Memphis, Tenn.

Big 12 vs. SEC

Tex. Tech vs. Auburn

TaxSlayer Bowl

Jan. 2

Jacksonville, Fla.

Big Ten vs. SEC

N'Western vs. Miss. St.

Alamo Bowl

Jan. 2

San Antonio, Tex.

Big 12 vs. Pac-12

Baylor vs. USC

Cactus Bowl

Jan. 2

Phoenix, Ariz.

Big 12 vs. Pac-12

Kan. St. vs. Wash. St.

*Replacement team

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