• It's still early in the 2016 college football season, but it's not too early to project which games teams will be playing in during the postseason.
By Colin Becht
September 27, 2016

With many teams a third of the way through their regular-season schedules, the College Football Playoff and bowl pictures are starting to come into focus. Obviously a lot will change between now and the kickoff to bowl season on Dec. 17, but after making initial bowl projections before the season, we now have an idea of how things will shake out.

Here’s 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.

College Football
Wisconsin climbs into top five in Power Rankings after Week 4

New Year's Six bowls

Bowl Date Location Matchup Pick
Peach (semifinal) Dec. 31 Atlanta TBD vs. TBD Alabama vs. Stan.
Fiesta (semifinal) Dec. 31 Glendale, Ariz. TBD vs. TBD Ohio St. vs. FSU
Orange Dec. 30 Miami ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND Clemson vs. Tenn.
Cotton Jan. 2 Arlington, Texas TBD vs. TBD Houston vs. Baylor
Rose Jan. 2 Pasadena, Calif. Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Mich. vs. Wash.
Sugar Jan. 2 New Orleans SEC vs. Big 12 Texas A&M vs. TCU

Biggest takeaways from Week 4

bowl date location matchup pick
New Mexico Dec. 17 Albuquerque, N.M, C-USA vs. MW WKU vs. Colo. St.
Las Vegas Dec. 17 Las Vegas MW vs. Pac-12 Boise St. vs. ASU
Camellia Dec. 17 Montgomery, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt Cen. Mich. vs. Troy
Cure Dec. 17 Orlando, Fla. AAC vs. Sun Belt Temple vs. ULL
New Orleans Dec. 17 New Orleans Sun Belt vs. C-USA App. St. vs. USM
Miami Beach Dec. 19 Miami AAC vs. MAC Cinci. vs. Ball St.
Boca Raton Dec. 20 Boca Raton, Fla. AAC vs. C-USA ECU vs. MTSU
Poinsettia Dec. 21 San Diego BYU vs. MW BYU vs. Air Force
Famous Idaho Potato Dec. 22 Boise, Idaho MAC vs. MW Toledo vs. SDSU
Bahamas Dec. 23 Nassau, Bahamas AAC vs. MAC UConn vs. Ohio
Armed Forces Dec. 23 Fort Worth, Texas Big 12 vs. Navy Tex. Tech vs. Navy
Dollar General Dec. 23 Mobile, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt WMU vs. GSU
Hawaii Dec. 24 Honolulu C-USA vs. MW Old Dom. vs. Nev.
St. Petersburg Dec. 26 St. Petersburg, Fla. ACC vs. AAC Army* vs. USF
Quick Lane Dec. 26 Detroit ACC vs. Big Ten W. Forest vs. PSU
Independence Dec. 26 Shreveport, La. ACC vs. SEC NC State vs. Cal*
Heart of Dallas Dec. 27 Dallas Big Ten vs. C-USA Maryland vs. Marshall
Military Dec. 27 Annapolis, Md. ACC vs. AAC Ga. Tech vs. Mem.
Holiday Dec. 27 San Diego Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Mich. St. vs. UCLA
Cactus Dec. 27 Phoenix Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Kansas St. vs. USC
Pinstripe Dec. 28 New York ACC vs. Big Ten Pitt. vs. Minn.
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 Orlando, Fla. ACC vs. Big 12 U of L vs. Ok. St.
Foster Farms Dec. 28 Santa Clara, Calif. Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Indiana vs. Oregon
Texas Dec. 28 Houston Big 12 vs. SEC Texas vs. Missouri
Birmingham Dec. 29 Birmingham, Ala. AAC vs. SEC Tulsa vs. FAU*
Belk Dec. 29 Charlotte, N.C. ACC vs. SEC UNC vs. Auburn
Alamo Dec. 29 San Antonio Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Oklahoma vs. Utah
Arizona Dec. 30 Tucson, Ariz. MW vs. Sun Belt E. Mich.* vs. Idaho
Liberty Dec. 30 Memphis, Tenn. Big 12 vs. SEC W. Virginia vs. LSU
Sun Dec. 30 El Paso, Texas ACC vs. Pac-12 VT vs. Colo.
Music City Dec. 30 Nashville, Ten.. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Iowa vs. Georgia
TaxSlayer Dec. 31 Jacksonville, Fla. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Miami vs. Ole Miss
Citrus Dec. 31 Orlando, Fla. Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC Wisc. vs. Arkansas
Outback Jan. 2 Tampa, Fla. Big Ten vs. SEC Neb. vs. Florida

*Replacement team

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)