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  • Some mid-tier ACC and SEC bowl teams may be in for an unpleasant surprise when they see a nine- or 10-win AAC team across the field from them in late December.
By Eric Single
September 10, 2018

The American Athletic Conference emerged from Week 2 with multiple impressive Power 5 conquests: USF knocked off Georgia Tech, Houston throttled Arizona and ECU stunned North Carolina. On top of that, Cincinnati spoiled Chip Kelly’s UCLA debut in Week 1, and Tulane and Tulsa scared Wake Forest and Texas, respectively. The conference that produced self-proclaimed national champion UCF a year ago (the Knights look just as good so far in 2018) seems to be deeper than ever and especially deadly at the top ... but it still might not land the Group of Five’s automatic New Year’s Six Bowl invitation.

That’s because Boise State has looked just as good, smashing Troy on the road and UConn at home to set up a Top-25 showdown at Oklahoma State in Week 3. If the Broncos—who already sit above UCF in the AP and Coaches Polls, for the little that’s worth—win in Stillwater, they will lay claim to the most impressive Power 5 skin of any AAC contender and may very likely get the nod over an undefeated or one-loss AAC champion if they run the table in the Mountain West.

The fallout of that outcome from the perspective of this week’s bowl projections: Some mid-tier ACC and SEC bowl teams may be in for an unpleasant surprise when they see a nine- or 10-win AAC team across the field from them in late December. Below, a look at all 39 postseason matchups, with plenty of educated guesses after just two weeks of action:

Dec. 15

New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque (2 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Mountain West vs. Conference USA
UNLV vs. Southern Miss

AutoNation Cure Bowl, Orlando (2:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
American vs. Sun Belt
Tulane vs. Louisiana-Monroe

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Pac-12 vs. Mountain West
Colorado vs. Fresno State

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, Montgomery, Ala. (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Sun Belt vs. MAC
Louisiana vs. Buffalo

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Sun Belt vs. Conference USA
Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech

Dec. 18

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
American vs. Conference USA
Cincinnati vs. FIU

Dec. 19

Frisco Bowl (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)
American vs. MAC/at-large
Memphis vs. Ohio

Dec. 20

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, Tampa (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)
American vs. ACC/Conference USA
USF vs. Louisville

Dec. 21

Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, Nassau (12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Conference USA vs. MAC
Florida Atlantic vs. Northern Illinois

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise (4 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Mountain West vs. MAC
Utah State vs. Eastern Michigan

Dec. 22

Birmingham Bowl (Noon ET, ESPN)
SEC vs. American
Vanderbilt vs. Houston

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big 12 vs. American
Washington State vs. Navy

Dollar General Bowl, Mobile, Ala. (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Akron vs. Georgia Southern

Hawai'i Bowl, Honolulu (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Mountain West vs. Conference USA
Hawai’i vs. Marshall

Dec. 26

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl, Dallas (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big Ten vs. Conference USA
Cal vs. North Texas

Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit (5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big Ten vs. ACC
Army vs. Georgia Tech

Cheez-It Bowl, Phoenix (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
Baylor vs. Utah

Dec. 27

Walk-On's Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La. (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
SEC vs. ACC
Appalachian State vs. Wake Forest

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, New York (5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big Ten vs. ACC
Minnesota vs. NC State

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl, Houston (9 p.m., ET, ESPN)
Big 12 vs. SEC
Kansas State vs. Texas A&M

Dec. 28

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Nashville (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten
Florida vs. Virginia Tech

Camping World Bowl, Orlando (5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big 12 vs. ACC
TCU vs. Miami

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, Tucson (5:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
Mountain West vs. Sun Belt
San Diego State vs. Troy

Valero Alamo Bowl, San Antonio (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
Oklahoma State vs. Washington

Dec. 29

Belk Bowl, Charlotte, N.C. (Noon ET, ABC)
SEC vs. ACC
Kentucky vs. Duke

Dec. 31

San Francisco Bowl, Santa Clara, Calif. (3 p.m. ET, Fox)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Northwestern vs. Arizona State

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman, Annapolis, Md. (Noon ET, ESPN)
ACC vs. AAC
Florida State vs. UCF

AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big 12 vs. SEC
Texas vs. Missouri

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, San Diego (7 p.m. ET, FS1)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Michigan vs. Oregon

TaxSlayer Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla, (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten
South Carolina vs. Maryland

Hyundai Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas (2 p.m. ET, CBS)
ACC vs. Pac-12
Boston College vs. USC

Jan. 1

Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla. (Noon ET, ESPN2)
Big Ten vs. SEC
Michigan State vs. LSU

Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla. (1 p.m. ET, ABC)
SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten
Mississippi State vs. Iowa

New Year's Six Bowls

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Atlanta (Dec. 29, Noon ET, ESPN)
At-large vs. At-large
Notre Dame vs. Penn State

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz. (Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN)
At-large vs. At-large
Auburn vs. Boise State

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual, Pasadena, Calif. (Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Wisconsin vs. Stanford

Allstate Sugar Bowl, New Orleans (Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m. ET, ESPN)
SEC vs. Big 12
Georgia vs. West Virginia

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Arlington, Texas (Dec. 29, 4 p.m. or 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)
CFP semifinalist vs. CFP semifinalist
Alabama vs. Oklahoma

Capital One Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens, Fla. (Dec. 29, 4 p.m. or 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)
CFP semifinalist vs. CFP semifinalist
Ohio State vs. Clemson

College Football Playoff National Championship, Santa Clara (Jan. 7, 8 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinal winner vs. CFP semifinal winner

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