- Losses by Clemson, Michigan and Washington in Week 11 create room for both Ohio State and Wisconsin in the predicted College Football Playoff field.
It’s a whole new postseason world now.
You can be forgiven if you thought the bowl projections were getting a bit stale in recent weeks. With so much stability in the College Football Playoff picture, there simply weren’t any sweeping changes to mix up the matchups from the Peach Bowl down to the Arizona Bowl.
All of that has of course changed after No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Washington all suffered their first losses of the season on Saturday. Only Clemson hung onto its playoff spot of those three, making room for two other Big Ten teams to leap into the projected national semifinal field.
As things stand, the Big Ten is well-positioned to be the first conference with multiple playoff teams. Assuming Penn State can beat Rutgers and Michigan State (likely), Wisconsin can beat Purdue and Minnesota (also likely) and Ohio State can beat Michigan (looking more likely after the Wolverines’ loss and quarterback Wilton Speight’s injury), the Nittany Lions will play the Badgers in the Big Ten title game. That creates an excellent opportunity for both the winner of that game and 11–1 Ohio State to finish in the top four.
Wisconsin’s rise into a playoff favorite and Washington’s ouster sets in motion a host of changes through the bowl projections. But before we get to the full projections, a reminder about how the college football postseason works. The College Football 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
|Peach (semifinal)||Dec. 31||Atlanta||TBD vs. TBD||Alabama vs. Wisconsin|
|Fiesta (semifinal)||Dec. 31||Glendale, Ariz.||TBD vs. TBD||Clemson vs. Ohio State|
|Orange||Dec. 30||Miami||ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND||Louisville vs. Penn State|
|Cotton||Jan. 2||Arlington, Texas||TBD vs. TBD||Western Michigan vs. Colorado|
|Rose||Jan. 2||Pasadena, Calif.||Big Ten vs. Pac-12||Michigan vs. Washington|
|Sugar||Jan. 2||New Orleans||SEC vs. Big 12||Florida vs. Oklahoma|
|New Mexico||Dec. 17||Albuquerque, N.M.||C-USA vs. MW||Middle Tennessee 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. Louisiana-Lafayette|
|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. Miami (OH)|
|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||Southern Miss* vs. South Florida|
|Quick Lane||Dec. 26||Detroit||ACC vs. Big Ten||NC State vs. Maryland|
|Independence||Dec. 26||Shreveport, La.||ACC vs. SEC||Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky|
|Heart of Dallas||Dec. 27||Dallas||Big Ten vs. C-USA||South Alabama* vs. Old Dominion|
|Military||Dec. 27||Annapolis, Md.||ACC vs. AAC||Akron* vs. Temple|
|Holiday||Dec. 27||San Diego||Big Ten vs. Pac-12||Minnesota vs. Stanford|
|Cactus||Dec. 27||Phoenix||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Texas vs. Army*|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 28||New York||ACC vs. Big Ten||Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 28||Orlando, Fla.||ACC vs. Big 12||Virginia Tech 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||TCU vs. Texas A&M|
|Birmingham||Dec. 29||Birmingham, Ala.||AAC vs. SEC||Houston vs. South Carolina|
|Belk||Dec. 29||Charlotte, N.C.||ACC vs. SEC||North Carolina vs. LSU|
|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. Arkansas State|
|Liberty||Dec. 30||Memphis, Tenn.||Big 12 vs. SEC||Baylor vs. Ole Miss|
|Sun||Dec. 30||El Paso, Texas||ACC vs. Pac-12||Wake Forest vs. Washington State|
|Music City||Dec. 30||Nashville, Tenn.||ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC||Iowa vs. Georgia|
|TaxSlayer||Dec. 31||Jacksonville, Fla.||ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC||Miami vs. Auburn|
|Citrus||Dec. 31||Orlando, Fla.||Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC||Florida State vs. Tennessee|
|Outback||Jan. 2||Tampa, Fla.||Big Ten vs. SEC||Nebraska vs. Arkansas|