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  • The projected College Football Playoff field remains unchanged while Auburn and Penn State capitalize on the losses of Texas A&M and Nebraska to move into the New Year's Six bowl lineup.
By Colin Becht
November 08, 2016

The postseason picture gained a lot more clarity with the debut of the College Football Playoff rankings last week. While it’s true that the first rankings aren’t all that predictive for determining who will actually make the playoff (Texas A&M can attest to that), they still offer a sense of how the hierarchy of teams might look at season’s end.

One of the biggest surprises in last week’s rankings was Penn State’s placement at No. 12. With the Nittany Lions’ manageable closing schedule of Indiana, Rutgers and Michigan State, they have a solid chance to end the regular season 10–2. The high assessment from last week suggests that such a finish would put Penn State inside the top 10 of the final rankings. That makes James Franklin’s squad the big winners in this week’s bowl projections, sliding up into the New Year’s Six bowls with a spot in the Cotton Bowl.

Before we get to the full 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.

• The one thing all College Football Playoff contenders must have

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. Penn State

Rose

Jan. 2

Pasadena, Calif.

Big Ten vs. Pac-12

Ohio State vs. Colorado

Sugar

Jan. 2

New Orleans

SEC vs. Big 12

Auburn vs. Oklahoma

College Football
Ohio State moves into the top five of Power Rankings after Week 10

bowl

date

location

matchup

pick

New Mexico

Dec. 17

Albuquerque, N.M.

C-USA vs. MW

Old Dominion 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. Idaho

Cure

Dec. 17

Orlando, Fla.

AAC vs. Sun Belt

UCF vs. Arkansas State

New Orleans

Dec. 17

New Orleans

Sun Belt vs. C-USA

Appalachian State vs. Western Kentucky

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. Louisiana Tech

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

SMU vs. Akron

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

Toledo vs. Troy

Hawaii

Dec. 24

Honolulu

C-USA vs. MW

UTSA vs. Air Force

St. Petersburg

Dec. 26

St. Petersburg, Fla.

ACC vs. AAC

Georgia Tech vs. South Florida

Quick Lane

Dec. 26

Detroit

ACC vs. Big Ten

NC State vs. Southern Miss*

Independence

Dec. 26

Shreveport, La.

ACC vs. SEC

Wake Forest vs. Kentucky

Heart of Dallas

Dec. 27

Dallas

Big Ten vs. C-USA

Miami (OH)* vs. Middle Tennessee

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

TCU 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. Ole Miss

Birmingham

Dec. 29

Birmingham, Ala.

AAC vs. SEC

Houston vs. South Carolina

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. Utah

Arizona

Dec. 30

Tucson, Ariz.

MW vs. Sun Belt

Colorado State vs. South Alabama

Liberty

Dec. 30

Memphis, Tenn.

Big 12 vs. SEC

Texas vs. Georgia

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. Florida

Citrus

Dec. 31

Orlando, Fla.

Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC

Nebraska vs. Texas A&M

Outback

Jan. 2

Tampa, Fla.

Big Ten vs. SEC

Minnesota vs. LSU

*Replacement team

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