• Four Big Ten teams make the New Year's Six bowl games in SI's latest Bowl Projections, topped by Michigan in the College Football Playoff.
By Colin Becht
November 01, 2016

Although the College Football Playoff field remains the same, just about every other major bowl game gets a new matchup after Week 9. That’s hardly surprising given the number of pivotal outcomes the week produced, including the first loss of the season for four teams.

One of the biggest winners of the week is actually a loser. Nebraska slides up to the New Year’s Six bowls despite its defeat at Wisconsin, as the Cornhuskers capitalize on South Carolina’s upset of Tennessee to take the Volunteers’ spot in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma and Western Michigan also move in the New Year’s Six bowls this week, spurred by the losses of Baylor and West Virginia (for the Sooners) and Boise State (for the Broncos).

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.


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 Western Michigan vs. Nebraska
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. Oklahoma
College Football
Michigan moves into the top three of Power Rankings after Week 9
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 Boise State vs. Arizona State
Camellia Dec. 17 Montgomery, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt Eastern Michigan vs. South Alabama
Cure Dec. 17 Orlando, Fla. AAC vs. Sun Belt UCF vs. Georgia Southern
New Orleans Dec. 17 New Orleans Sun Belt vs. C-USA Appalachian State vs. Middle Tennessee
Miami Beach Dec. 19 Miami AAC vs. MAC Tulsa 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. San Diego State
Famous Idaho Potato Dec. 22 Boise, Idaho MAC vs. MW Ohio 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 Tech vs. Navy
Dollar General Dec. 23 Mobile, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt Toledo vs. Troy
Hawaii Dec. 24 Honolulu C-USA vs. MW Louisiana Tech vs. Air Force
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. Arkansas State*
Independence Dec. 26 Shreveport, La. ACC vs. SEC NC State vs. SMU*
Heart of Dallas Dec. 27 Dallas Big Ten vs. C-USA TCU* vs. Old Dominion
Military Dec. 27 Annapolis, Md. ACC vs. AAC Army* vs. Temple
Holiday Dec. 27 San Diego Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Northwestern 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. Maryland
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 Orlando, Fla. ACC vs. Big 12 Florida State vs. Oklahoma State
Foster Farms Dec. 28 Santa Clara, Calif. Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Indiana vs. USC
Texas Dec. 28 Houston Big 12 vs. SEC Baylor vs. Kentucky
Birmingham Dec. 29 Birmingham, Ala. AAC vs. SEC Houston vs. Georgia
Belk Dec. 29 Charlotte, N.C. ACC vs. SEC North Carolina vs. Tennessee
Alamo Dec. 29 San Antonio Big 12 vs. Pac-12 West Virginia vs. Colorado
Arizona Dec. 30 Tucson, Ariz. MW vs. Sun Belt Colorado State vs. Idaho
Liberty Dec. 30 Memphis, Tenn. Big 12 vs. SEC Texas vs. Ole Miss
Sun Dec. 30 El Paso, Texas ACC vs. Pac-12 Pittsburgh vs. Stanford
Music City Dec. 30 Nashville, Tenn. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Iowa vs. Arkansas
TaxSlayer Dec. 31 Jacksonville, Fla. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Virginia Tech vs. LSU
Citrus Dec. 31 Orlando, Fla. Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC Penn State vs. Auburn
Outback Jan. 2 Tampa, Fla. Big Ten vs. SEC Minnesota vs. Florida

*Replacement team