Midseason Bowl Projections: Predicting the playoff, every bowl game

0:46 | College Football
No. 2 Ohio State outlasts No. 8 Wisconsin in overtime
Tuesday October 18th, 2016

The first half of the season has been marked by a surprising sense of stability. The four teams in the projected field for the College Football Playoff entered 2016 ranked No. 1 (Alabama), No. 2 (Clemson), No. 6 (Ohio State) and No. 14 (Washington). The Crimson Tide and Tigers even participated in last year’s championship game.

For fans of postseason chaos, all this steadiness has been a little unsettling. Good thing there’s still another half of the regular season to play, plenty of time for some wild upsets to wreak havoc on the bowl picture.

Before we get to the bowl projections, 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.

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New Year's Six bowls

Bowl Date Location Matchup Pick
Peach (semifinal) Dec. 31 Atlanta TBD vs. TBD Alabama vs. Washington
Fiesta (semifinal) Dec. 31 Glendale, Ariz. TBD vs. TBD Ohio State vs. Clemson
Orange Dec. 30 Miami ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND Louisville vs. Wisconsin
Cotton Jan. 2 Arlington, Texas TBD vs. TBD Boise State vs. Tennessee
Rose Jan. 2 Pasadena, Calif. Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Michigan vs. Stanford
Sugar Jan. 2 New Orleans SEC vs. Big 12 Texas A&M vs. Baylor

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Other bowls

bowl date location matchup pick
New Mexico Dec. 17 Albuquerque, N.M, C-USA vs. MW Louisiana Tech vs. New Mexico
Las Vegas Dec. 17 Las Vegas MW vs. Pac-12 San Diego State vs. Arizona State
Camellia Dec. 17 Montgomery, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt Eastern Michigan vs. Georgia Southern
Cure Dec. 17 Orlando, Fla. AAC vs. Sun Belt Tulane vs. South Alabama
New Orleans Dec. 17 New Orleans Sun Belt vs. C-USA Appalachian State vs. Southern Miss
Miami Beach Dec. 19 Miami AAC vs. MAC Temple vs. Central Michigan
Boca Raton Dec. 20 Boca Raton, Fla. AAC vs. C-USA Memphis vs. Middle Tennessee
Poinsettia Dec. 21 San Diego BYU vs. MW BYU vs. Air Force
Famous Idaho Potato Dec. 22 Boise, Idaho MAC vs. MW Toledo vs. Wyoming
Bahamas Dec. 23 Nassau, Bahamas AAC vs. MAC UConn vs. Ohio
Armed Forces Dec. 23 Fort Worth, Texas Big 12 vs. Navy Kansas State vs. Navy
Dollar General Dec. 23 Mobile, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt Western Michigan vs. Troy
Hawaii Dec. 24 Honolulu C-USA vs. MW Old Dominion vs. Akron*
St. Petersburg Dec. 26 St. Petersburg, Fla. ACC vs. AAC Wake Forest vs. South Florida
Quick Lane Dec. 26 Detroit ACC vs. Big Ten Georgia Tech vs. Maryland
Independence Dec. 26 Shreveport, La. ACC vs. SEC NC State vs. Arkansas State*
Heart of Dallas Dec. 27 Dallas Big Ten vs. C-USA Cincinnati* vs. Western Kentucky
Military Dec. 27 Annapolis, Md. ACC vs. AAC Army* vs. Houston
Holiday Dec. 27 San Diego Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Indiana vs. Washington State
Cactus Dec. 27 Phoenix Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Texas vs. UCLA
Pinstripe Dec. 28 New York ACC vs. Big Ten Miami vs. Northwestern
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 Orlando, Fla. ACC vs. Big 12 Florida State vs. West Virginia
Foster Farms Dec. 28 Santa Clara, Calif. Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Minnesota vs. Utah
Texas Dec. 28 Houston Big 12 vs. SEC TCU vs. LSU
Birmingham Dec. 29 Birmingham, Ala. AAC vs. SEC Tulsa vs. Ball State*
Belk Dec. 29 Charlotte, N.C. ACC vs. SEC North Carolina vs. Auburn
Alamo Dec. 29 San Antonio Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Oklahoma vs. Colorado
Arizona Dec. 30 Tucson, Ariz. MW vs. Sun Belt UTSA* vs. Idaho
Liberty Dec. 30 Memphis, Tenn. Big 12 vs. SEC Oklahoma State vs. Georgia
Sun Dec. 30 El Paso, Texas ACC vs. Pac-12 Pittsburgh vs. USC
Music City Dec. 30 Nashville, Tenn. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Penn State vs. Kentucky
TaxSlayer Dec. 31 Jacksonville, Fla. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Virginia Tech vs. Ole Miss
Citrus Dec. 31 Orlando, Fla. Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC Iowa vs. Arkansas
Outback Jan. 2 Tampa, Fla. Big Ten vs. SEC Nebraska vs. Florida

*Replacement team

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