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Bowl Projections: Hurricane Scheduling Havoc Shouldn't Cloud Teams' Hopes

September's severe weather has taken a few games off the schedule for teams that might ultimately need those potential wins in the quest for bowl eligibility, but no one should be worried about that just yet.

Let’s start with this: As much of the southeastern United States deals with the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the absolute last thing on the minds of the schools, teams and fans that were in the storms’ paths should be bowl eligibility.

Six games were cancelled in the first two weeks of the season due to the two hurricanes, two more scheduled for Week 3 have already been called off as the state of Florida continues to assess the damage, and Miami’s scheduled primetime showdown with Florida State has been postponed until Oct. 7. (More cancellations and moves could come down as Irma works its way north; Florida and Tennessee plan to play in Gainesville as scheduled after some uncertainty.) As their focus eventually returns to football, some fans may be wondering if the games wiped off the schedule will come back to haunt them in November as their teams make a final push for bowl bids—would that scrapped paycheck game have provided an all-important sixth win?

First and foremost, keeping alive the chance of a trip to the Dollar General Bowl is not worth endangering the lives of teams, staff and spectators. Setting that aside, however, a glance at the programs and games affected by Harvey and Irma so far reveals that this year’s six-win cut line could be safe from many close calls. Barring complete dysfunction down the stretch, Florida, Florida State, Miami and South Florida should be comfortably heading for winning seasons, with or without all of their September games. Houston, UTSA, Arkansas State, Memphis and UCF (which has had two games completely cancelled) are strong Group of Five teams that also shouldn’t have much trouble finishing the year above .500.

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The two Power 5 teams with the biggest question marks are Georgia Tech and Indiana. The Hoosiers say they are “working diligently” to see if they can find a last-minute opponent for their previously scheduled Oct. 7 bye week after Florida International was forced to cancel this Saturday’s game (on Tuesday afternoon, they found a dance partner in Charleston Southern); the Yellow Jackets have not publicly stated any similar efforts after losing this week’s trip to UCF, which has offered up its campus and stadium as a staging area for the National Guard.

With five home games and manageable road trips to Virginia and Duke left, just one upset of Miami, Clemson, Virginia Tech or Georgia should put Georgia Tech at six wins. Indiana’s Big Ten schedule turns nasty after a non-conference game against Georgia Southern on Sept. 23, but the Hoosiers finish out the regular season with three very winnable games (at Illinois, vs. Rutgers, at Purdue) and should take heart in how tough they played Ohio State in the season opener before the Buckeyes pulled away. What’s more, both Georgia Tech (No. 16) and Indiana (No. 19) sit in the FBS’s top 20 of this year’s Academic Progress Rate scores, putting them near the front of the line for the bowl bids handed out to five-win teams if not enough teams reach six wins. (UCF sits 12th in the rankings, should the Knights need some help.)

All this is to say, fretting over the quest for six wins as those in the path of devastating storms recover and rebuild is not worth the time. The latest bowl projections through Week 2’s action:

Saturday, Dec. 16

R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans (1 p.m., ESPN)
Sun Belt vs. C-USA
Louisiana Monroe vs. UAB

AutoNation Cure Bowl, Orlando, Fla. (2:30 p.m., CBSSN)
AAC vs. Sun Belt
Tulane vs. Coastal Carolina

Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas (3:30 p.m., ABC)
​MWC vs. Pac-12
Boise State vs. Colorado

Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque (4:30 p.m., ESPN)
Western Kentucky vs. Air Force

Raycom Media Camelia Bowl, Montgomery, Ala. (8 p.m., ESPN)
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State

Tuesday, Dec. 19

Boca Raton Bowl, Boca Raton, Fla. (7 p.m., ESPN)
SMU vs. Middle Tennessee

Wednesday, Dec. 20

Frisco Bowl, Frisco, Texas (8 p.m., ESPN)
AAC vs. Sun Belt
Houston vs. Troy

Thursday, Dec. 21

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, St. Petersburg, Fla. (8 p.m., ESPN)
Old Dominion vs. Memphis

Friday, Dec. 22

Bahamas Bowl, Nassau, Bahamas (12:30 p.m., ESPN)
Louisiana Tech vs. Eastern Michigan

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Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise (4 p.m., ESPN)
Western Michigan vs. Colorado State

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Saturday, Dec. 23

Birmingham Bowl, Birmingham, Ala. (12 p.m., ESPN)
South Florida vs. Vanderbilt

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Texas (3:30 p.m., ESPN)
Army vs. C-USA
Army vs. Southern Miss

Dollar General Bowl, Mobile, Ala. (7 p.m., ESPN)
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Toledo vs. Appalachian State

Sunday, Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu, (8:30 p.m., ESPN)
UCF vs. Hawaii

Tuesday, Dec. 26

Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dallas (1:30 p.m., ESPN)
Big 12 vs. C-USA
Tulsa vs. UTSA

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

Cactus Bowl, Phoenix (9 p.m., ESPN)
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
Texas Tech vs. Utah

Wednesday, Dec. 27

Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La. (1:30 p.m., ESPN)
Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, New York (5:15 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big Ten
Syracuse vs. Maryland

Foster Farms Bowl, Santa Clara, Calif. (8 p.m., FOX)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Iowa vs. Oregon

Texas Bowl, Houston (9 p.m., ESPN)
Big 12 vs. SEC
Texas vs. Missouri

Thursday, Dec. 28

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman, Annapolis, Md. (1:30 p.m., ESPN)
Pittsburgh vs. Navy

Camping World Bowl, Orlando, Fla. (5:15 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big 12
Miami vs. West Virginia

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

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, San Diego (9 p.m., FS1)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Nebraska vs. Stanford

Friday, Dec. 29

Belk Bowl, Charlotte, N.C. (1 p.m., ESPN)
Duke vs. Florida

Hyundai Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas (2 p.m., CBS)
ACC vs. Pac-12
NC State vs. Washington State

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Nashville, Tenn. (4:30 p.m., ESPN)
SEC vs. Big Ten or ACC
South Carolina vs. Michigan State

Arizona Bowl, Tucson, Ariz. (5:30 p.m., CBSSN)
Sun Belt vs. MWC
Idaho vs. Wyoming

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Saturday, Dec. 30

TaxSlayer Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla. (12 p.m., ESPN)
SEC vs. Big Ten or ACC
Mississippi State vs. Virginia Tech

AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn. (12:30 p.m., ABC)
Big 12 vs. SEC
Kansas State vs. Tennessee

Monday, Jan. 1, 2018

Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla. (12 p.m., ESPN2)
Big Ten vs. SEC
Wisconsin vs. Auburn

Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla. (1 p.m., ABC)
Georgia vs. Florida State

New Year's Six Bowls

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Arlington, Texas (Dec. 29, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)
At-large vs. At-large
San Diego State vs. Oklahoma State

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz. (Dec. 30, 4 p.m., ESPN)
At-large vs. At-large
Washington vs. Michigan

Capital One Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens, Fla. (Dec. 30, 8 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame
Louisville vs. Ohio State

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Atlanta (Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m., ESPN)
At-large vs. At-Large

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual, Pasadena, Calif. (Jan. 1, 5 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinalist vs. CFP semifinalist
Clemson vs. Penn State

Allstate Sugar Bowl, New Orleans (Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinalist vs. CFP semifinalist
Alabama vs. Oklahoma

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