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  • Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Florida State make the predicted College Football Playoff field in SI's preseason bowl projections.
By Colin Becht
August 30, 2016

We’re 109 days away from the start of bowl season, when the New Mexico Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, Camellia Bowl, Cure Bowl and New Orleans Bowl will kick off the 2016 postseason. In those 109 days, the 128 teams of the FBS will complete their regular seasons that—for everyone except Cal and Hawaii—commence this weekend.

So it’s safe to say there’s still a fair bit of uncertainty in how the bowl picture will shape up this season. Of course, some things are clearer: Only a dozen or so teams have a realistic shot at reaching the College Football Playoff. BYU will play in the Poinsettia Bowl as long as the Cougars are bowl-eligible (they should be) and don’t make the playoff (they won’t). The same goes for Navy and the Armed Forces Bowl.

But for the most part, the 40 bowl games plus the national championship that make up the 2016 season’s finale are largely a mystery. So consider this a best guess, one that we’ll continue to refine throughout the season.

But first, here’s a reminder about how all this works. The playoff selection committee will choose the teams for the two playoff semifinals and 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 different 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.

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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. Some conferences group their bids together rather than follow a strict hierarchy to give them greater flexibility to create compelling matchups. This allows the SEC, for example, to choose between its third through eighth teams to send to the Texas, Belk, Liberty, Music City, TaxSlayer and Outback bowls depending on which bowls its teams have been to most recently, what matchups it wants to create and other considerations.

Bowl

Date

Location

Matchup

Pick

Peach (semifinal)

Dec. 31

Atlanta

TBD vs. TBD

Alabama vs. Notre Dame

Fiesta (semifinal)

Dec. 31

Glendale, Ariz.

TBD vs. TBD

Ohio State vs. Florida State

Orange

Dec. 30

Miami

ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND

Clemson vs. Tennessee

Cotton

Jan. 2

Arlington, Texas

TBD vs. TBD

Boise State vs. TCU

Rose

Jan. 2

Pasadena, Calif.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Michigan vs. Stanford

Sugar

Jan. 2

New Orleans

SEC vs. Big 12

LSU vs. Oklahoma

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bowl

date

location

matchup

pick

New Mexico

Dec. 17

Albuquerque, N.M,

C-USA vs. MW

Florida Atlantic vs. Colorado State

Las Vegas

Dec. 17

Las Vegas

MW vs. Pac-12

San Diego State vs. Washington State

Camellia

Dec. 17

Montgomery, Ala.

MAC vs. Sun Belt

Bowling Green vs. Arkansas State

Cure

Dec. 17

Orlando, Fla.

AAC vs. Sun Belt

East Carolina vs. Troy

New Orleans

Dec. 17

New Orleans

Sun Belt vs. C-USA

Appalachian State vs. Marshall

Miami Beach

Dec. 19

Miami

AAC vs. MAC

Houston vs. Northern Illinois

Boca Raton

Dec. 20

Boca Raton, Fla.

AAC vs. C-USA

UConn vs. Southern Miss

Poinsettia

Dec. 21

San Diego

BYU vs. MW

BYU vs. Air Force

Famous Idaho Potato

Dec. 22

Boise, Idaho

MAC vs. MW

Toledo vs. Nevada

Bahamas

Dec. 23

Nassau, Bahamas

AAC vs. MAC

Memphis vs. Ohio

Armed Forces

Dec. 23

Fort Worth, Texas

Big 12 vs. Navy

West Virginia vs. Navy

Dollar General

Dec. 23

Mobile, Ala.

MAC vs. Sun Belt

Western Michigan vs. Georgia Southern

Hawaii

Dec. 24

Honolulu

C-USA vs. MW

Louisiana Tech vs. Utah State

St. Petersburg

Dec. 26

St. Petersburg, Fla.

ACC vs. AAC

Central Michigan* vs. South Florida

Quick Lane

Dec. 26

Detroit

ACC vs. Big Ten

Georgia Tech vs. Wisconsin

Independence

Dec. 26

Shreveport, La.

ACC vs. SEC

Duke vs. Western Kentucky*

Heart of Dallas

Dec. 27

Dallas

Big Ten vs. C-USA

Indiana vs. Middle Tennessee

Military

Dec. 27

Annapolis, Md.

ACC vs. AAC

Temple vs. NC State

Holiday

Dec. 27

San Diego

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Michigan State vs. Oregon

Cactus

Dec. 27

Phoenix

Big 12 vs. Pac-12

Kansas State vs. Utah

Pinstripe

Dec. 28

New York

ACC vs. Big Ten

Miami vs. Penn State

Russell Athletic

Dec. 28

Orlando, Fla.

ACC vs. Big 12

Louisville vs. Texas

Foster Farms

Dec. 28

Santa Clara, Calif.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Northwestern vs. USC

Texas

Dec. 28

Houston

Big 12 vs. SEC

Baylor vs. Mississippi State

Birmingham

Dec. 29

Birmingham, Ala.

AAC vs. SEC

Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt

Belk

Dec. 29

Charlotte, N.C.

ACC vs. SEC

Pittsburgh vs. Arkansas

Alamo

Dec. 29

San Antonio

Big 12 vs. Pac-12

Oklahoma State vs. Washington

Arizona

Dec. 30

Tucson, Ariz.

MW vs. Sun Belt

Fresno State vs. Arizona*

Liberty

Dec. 30

Memphis, Tenn.

Big 12 vs. SEC

Texas Tech vs. Auburn

Sun

Dec. 30

El Paso, Texas

ACC vs. Pac-12

Virginia Tech vs. UCLA

Music City

Dec. 30

Nashville, Ten..

ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC

Minnesota vs. Florida

TaxSlayer

Dec. 31

Jacksonville, Fla.

ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC

North Carolina vs. Texas A&M

Citrus

Dec. 31

Orlando, Fla.

Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC

Iowa vs. Georgia

Outback

Jan. 2

Tampa, Fla.

Big Ten vs. SEC

Nebraska vs. Ole Miss

*Replacement team

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