• Michigan moves into the predicted College Football Playoff field after Ohio State's loss while Utah slides up to the Rose Bowl in the post-Week 8 Bowl Projections.
By Colin Becht
October 25, 2016

For the first time in three weeks, a new team has entered the projected College Football Playoff field. Ohio State’s loss to Penn State makes Michigan the favorite to emerge from the Big Ten with a playoff-worthy résumé. While the Buckeyes could certainly win the spot back—winning out and beating Wolverines would surely do it—they’ll have to settle for a Rose Bowl berth for now.

The other significant change this week is the continuing revolution of the carousel to determine who is the second best team in the Pac-12. Last week’s projection, Stanford, drops following the Cardinal’s home defeat to Colorado, allowing Utah to move into the Pac-12’s Rose Bowl slot. The Buffaloes, however, are hot on the heels of the Utes and would be next in line if coach Kyle Whittingham’s squad slips. Imagine that: Colorado could snap an eight-season bowl drought with, of all things, a trip to the Granddaddy of Them All.

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 CFP 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.

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 Michigan 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 Ohio State vs. Utah
Sugar Jan. 2 New Orleans SEC vs. Big 12 Texas A&M vs. Baylor
College Football
Louisville reenters top five of Power Rankings after Week 8
bowl date location matchup pick
New Mexico Dec. 17 Albuquerque, N.M. C-USA vs. MW Southern Miss 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 UCF vs. South Alabama
New Orleans Dec. 17 New Orleans Sun Belt vs. C-USA Appalachian State vs. Middle Tennessee
Miami Beach Dec. 19 Miami AAC vs. MAC Houston vs. Central Michigan
Boca Raton Dec. 20 Boca Raton, Fla. AAC vs. C-USA Memphis vs. Western Kentucky
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 Cincinnati vs. Akron
Armed Forces Dec. 23 Fort Worth, Texas Big 12 vs. Navy Texas vs. Navy
Dollar General Dec. 23 Mobile, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt Western Michigan vs. Troy
Hawaii Dec. 24 Honolulu C-USA vs. MW Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii
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. Ohio*
Heart of Dallas Dec. 27 Dallas Big Ten vs. C-USA Arkansas State* vs. Old Dominion
Military Dec. 27 Annapolis, Md. ACC vs. AAC Ball State* vs. Temple
Holiday Dec. 27 San Diego Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Iowa vs. Washington State
Cactus Dec. 27 Phoenix Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Kansas State vs. Cal
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. USC
Texas Dec. 28 Houston Big 12 vs. SEC Oklahoma State vs. Georgia
Birmingham Dec. 29 Birmingham, Ala. AAC vs. SEC Tulsa vs. North Texas*
Belk Dec. 29 Charlotte, N.C. ACC vs. SEC North Carolina vs. Arkansas
Alamo Dec. 29 San Antonio Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Oklahoma vs. Colorado
Arizona Dec. 30 Tucson, Ariz. MW vs. Sun Belt Colorado State vs. Idaho
Liberty Dec. 30 Memphis, Tenn. Big 12 vs. SEC TCU vs. Kentucky
Sun Dec. 30 El Paso, Texas ACC vs. Pac-12 Pittsburgh vs. Stanford
Music City Dec. 30 Nashville, Tenn. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Indiana vs. Ole Miss
TaxSlayer Dec. 31 Jacksonville, Fla. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Virginia Tech vs. LSU
Citrus Dec. 31 Orlando, Fla. Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC Nebraska vs. Auburn
Outback Jan. 2 Tampa, Fla. Big Ten vs. SEC Penn State vs. Florida

*Replacement team

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