Bowl projections: Predicting the playoff, other bowls after Week 13

1:24 | College Football
CFB Playoff picture gets chaotic with Alabama or Clemson loss
Tuesday December 1st, 2015

Well, now things are getting interesting.

Only championship Saturday remains in the college football regular season, and 75 teams have already reached bowl eligibility. But 80 teams are needed to fill the 40 bowl games this year, and only three five-win programs—Kansas State, Georgia State and South Alabama—have any games left. That means the NCAA will have to grant at least a couple of 5–7 teams the right to play in bowls.

So which five-win schools get to enjoy the postseason? The NCAA announced Monday that those extra bids will be filled based on highest Academic Progress Rates. The top five-win teams in APR score are Nebraska (985), Kansas State (976), Missouri (976), Minnesota (975), San Jose State (975), Illinois (973) and Rice (973). Missouri declined its bowl opportunity Monday, so we’ve included five-win Nebraska, Kansas State, Minnesota, San Jose State and Illinois in our latest bowl projections, accounting for conference tie-ins where possible.

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However, the order with which the bowls select newly eligible teams remains unclear. And whether or not any more 5–7 schools will decline bowl opportunities is also unknown.

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 a Big Ten team against the Pac-12 squad 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 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, 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, Texas

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. Iowa

Rose Bowl

Jan. 1

Pasadena, Calif.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Ohio State vs. Stanford

Sugar Bowl

Jan. 1

New Orleans, La.

SEC vs. Big 12

Ole Miss 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.


C. Mich.* vs. New Mexico

Las Vegas Bowl

Dec. 19

Las Vegas

MW/BYU vs. Pac-12

BYU vs. Wash. St.

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. State

Miami Beach Bowl

Dec. 21

Miami, Fla.


Cincinnati vs. So. Miss

Idaho Potato Bowl

Dec. 22

Boise, Idaho

MAC vs. MW

Akron vs. Boise St.

Boca Raton Bowl

Dec. 22

Boca Raton, Fla.


USF vs. Toledo

Poinsettia Bowl

Dec. 23

San Diego, Calif.

MW vs. Army

SDSU vs. N. Illinois

GoDaddy Bowl

Dec. 23

Mobile, Ala.

MAC vs. Sun Belt


Bahamas Bowl

Dec. 24

Nassau, Bahamas


Mid. Tenn. vs. W. Mich.

Hawaii Bowl

Dec. 24

Honolulu, Hawaii


Tulsa vs. Co. State

Heart of Dallas Bowl

Dec. 26

Dallas, Texas

Big 12/Big Ten vs. CUSA

Nevada* vs. Western Ky.

St. Petersburg Bowl

Dec. 26

St. Petersburg, Fla.


Temple vs. Marshall

Sun Bowl

Dec. 26

El Paso, Texas

ACC vs. Pac-12

NC State vs. Utah

Independence Bowl

Dec. 26

Shreveport, La.


Va. Tech vs. Illinois**

Foster Farms Bowl

Dec. 26

Santa Clara, Calif.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Indiana vs. UCLA

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

Cal* vs. Nebraska**

Military Bowl

Dec. 28

Annapolis, Md.


Louisville vs. Navy

Arizona Bowl

Dec. 29

Tucson, Ariz


Air Force vs. Arizona*

Russell Athletic Bowl

Dec. 29

Orlando, Fla.

ACC vs. Big 12


Texas Bowl

Dec. 29

Houston, Texas

Big 12 vs. SEC

Tex. Tech vs. Tex. A&M

Armed Forces Bowl

Dec. 29

Fort Worth, Texas

Big Ten/Big 12 vs. MW

Wash.* vs. Utah St.

Music City Bowl

Dec. 30

Nashville, Tenn.


Pitt vs. Arkansas

Holiday Bowl

Dec. 30

San Diego, Calif.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Penn St. vs. Oregon

Belk Bowl

Dec. 30

Charlotte, N.C.


Duke vs. Miss. St.

Birmingham Bowl

Dec. 30

Birmingham, Ala.


Memphis vs. Georgia

Outback Bowl

Jan. 1

Tampa, Fla.

Big Ten vs. SEC

Michigan vs. Tenn.

Citrus Bowl

Jan. 1

Orlando, Fla.

Big Ten vs. SEC

Wisconsin vs. Florida

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, Texas

Big 12 vs. Pac-12

Okla. State vs. USC

Cactus Bowl

Jan. 2

Phoenix, Ariz.

Big 12 vs. Pac-12

W. Virginia vs. Ariz. St.

*Replacement team
**Five-win team

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