• High-profile results like Ohio State's win over Michigan and Washington's win over Washington State brought some clarity to the College Football Playoff race while upsets sunk some teams' bowl hopes.
By Colin Becht
November 29, 2016

While the College Football Playoff drama may still have to play out this week in conference championship games, Week 13 brought the down-to-wire drama for bowl eligibility, including some massive blows inflicted by rivals.

Arizona stunned Arizona State for just its third win of the season and kept the Sun Devils from going bowling. Vanderbilt, which would have likely made a bowl with five wins due to its high Academic Progress Rate, sealed the deal with an upset of Tennessee.

But the biggest strike of all came in the Egg Bowl. A rivalry that in recent years often had Sugar Bowl and other major postseason implications was reduced to a death match with only one bowl berth available. Mississippi State’s 55–20 victory not only denied Ole Miss a sixth win, but it also bumped the Bulldogs’ win total up to five, enough for their APR to get them into a bowl game.

See, Nick Saban, we don’t only talk about the playoff.

• Coaches who need to improve next season to save their jobs

Before we get to the full projections, a reminder about how the college football bowl selection 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 Ohio State vs. Clemson
Orange Dec. 30 Miami ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND Louisville vs. Michigan
Cotton Jan. 2 Arlington, Texas TBD vs. TBD Western Michigan vs. Penn State
Rose Jan. 2 Pasadena, Calif. Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Wisconsin vs. USC
Sugar Jan. 2 New Orleans SEC vs. Big 12 Auburn vs. Oklahoma
College Football
Michigan loss opens spot in top four of Power Rankings after Week 13
bowl date location matchup pick
New Mexico Dec. 17 Albuquerque, N.M. C-USA vs. MW UTSA vs. New Mexico
Las Vegas Dec. 17 Las Vegas MW vs. Pac-12 San Diego State vs. Mississippi State*
Camellia Dec. 17 Montgomery, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt Miami (OH) vs. Arkansas State
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. 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. Louisiana Tech
Poinsettia Dec. 21 San Diego BYU vs. MW BYU vs. Wyoming
Famous Idaho Potato Dec. 22 Boise, Idaho MAC vs. MW Ohio vs. Boise State
Bahamas Dec. 23 Nassau, Bahamas C-USA vs. AAC/MAC Old Dominion vs. Eastern Michigan
Armed Forces Dec. 23 Fort Worth, Texas Big 12 vs. Navy North Texas* vs. Navy
Dollar General Dec. 23 Mobile, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt Toledo vs. Troy
Hawaii Dec. 24 Honolulu C-USA vs. MW Southern Miss vs. Hawaii
St. Petersburg Dec. 26 St. Petersburg, Fla. ACC vs. AAC South Alabama* vs. Houston
Quick Lane Dec. 26 Detroit ACC vs. Big Ten Boston College vs. Maryland
Independence Dec. 26 Shreveport, La. ACC vs. SEC NC State vs. Vanderbilt
Heart of Dallas Dec. 27 Dallas Big Ten vs. C-USA Army* vs. Western Kentucky
Military Dec. 27 Annapolis, Md. ACC vs. AAC Wake Forest 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. Colorado State*
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. Utah
Texas Dec. 28 Houston Big 12 vs. SEC TCU vs. Texas A&M
Birmingham Dec. 29 Birmingham, Ala. AAC vs. SEC South Florida 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. Colorado
Arizona Dec. 30 Tucson, Ariz. MW vs. Sun Belt Air Force vs. Idaho
Liberty Dec. 30 Memphis, Tenn. Big 12 vs. SEC Baylor vs. Kentucky
Sun Dec. 30 El Paso, Texas ACC vs. Pac-12 Georgia Tech vs. Stanford
Music City Dec. 30 Nashville, Tenn. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Minnesota vs. Georgia
TaxSlayer Dec. 31 Jacksonville, Fla. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Miami vs. Arkansas
Citrus Dec. 31 Orlando, Fla. Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC Florida State vs. LSU
Outback Jan. 2 Tampa, Fla. Big Ten vs. SEC Nebraska vs. Florida

*Replacement team

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