College football 2015-16 bowl projections: Predicting the playoff, New Year's Six bowls after week 12.

By Zac Ellis
November 24, 2015

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.

bOWL

DATE

LOCATION

MATCHUP

PICK

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

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. 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.

*Replacement team

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