Bowl Projections: Intrigue Abounds for Fourth Playoff Spot

Our latest college football bowl projection forecasts all 40 matchups, including the playoff and full New Year's Six.
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Alabama and Penn State took their first loss of the season on Saturday, creating a sizable vacuum in the race for the College Football Playoff. We approach Tuesday night’s rankings show with an assumed top three (LSU, Ohio State and Clemson) but do we have any idea who will be in the driver’s seat for the fourth Playoff spot?

The Crimson Tide and Georgia remain contenders for a second SEC spot, though they face stiff competition against one-loss Power 5 schools Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah. Baylor and Minnesota remain undefeated entering Week 11, though difficult closing schedules could quickly derail their CFP chances by this time next week. Championship weekend is rapidly approaching. The Playoff picture remains murky. Chaos could ensue over the next few weeks as the committee tries to sort out a deep pool of contenders. Let’s try to separate the signal from the noise.

Check out Sports Illustrated’s latest crop of bowl projections below:

Dec. 20

Bahamas Bowl, Nassau (2 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Conference USA vs. MAC
Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan

Frisco Bowl (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
American vs. Sun Belt
UCF vs. Louisiana Lafayette

Dec. 21

Celebration Bowl, Atlanta (12 p.m. ET, ABC)
MEAC vs. SWAC
Florida A&M vs. Alcorn State

New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque (2 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Conference USA vs. MWC
Southern Miss vs. Utah State

Cure Bowl, Orlando (2:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
American vs. Sun Belt
Temple vs. Arkansas State

Boca Raton Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
MAC vs. American
Central Michigan vs. USF

Camellia Bowl, Montgomery (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Buffalo vs. Georgia Southern

Las Vegas Bowl (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Pac-12 vs. SEC or Big Ten or MWC
UCLA vs. Boise State

New Orleans Bowl (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Conference USA vs. Sun Belt
UAB vs. Georgia State

Dec. 23

Gasparilla Bowl, Tampa (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Conference USA vs. American
Florida Atlantic vs. Tulane

Dec. 24

Hawai'i Bowl, Honolulu (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)
MWC or BYU vs. American
Hawaii vs. BYU

Dec. 26

Independence Bowl, Shreveport (4 p.m. ET, ESPN)
SEC vs. ACC or Notre Dame
Marshall vs. Boston College

Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big Ten vs. ACC or Notre Dame
Michigan State vs. Louisville

Dec. 27

Military Bowl, Annapolis (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
American vs. ACC or Notre Dame
Navy vs. Florida State

Pinstripe Bowl, Bronx (3:20 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big Ten vs. ACC or Notre Dame
Iowa vs. Pitt

Texas Bowl, Houston (6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big 12 vs. SEC
Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi State

Holiday Bowl, San Diego (8 p.m. ET, FS1)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Michigan vs. Washington

Cheez-It Bowl, Phoenix (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
TCU vs. San Diego State

Dec. 28

Camping World Bowl, Orlando (12 p.m. ET, ABC)
Big 12 vs. ACC or Notre Dame
Kansas State vs. Notre Dame

Dec. 30

First Responder Bowl, Dallas (12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big 12 vs. Conference USA
Texas Tech vs. Louisiana Tech

Music City Bowl, Nashville (4 p.m. ET, ESPN)
SEC vs. ACC or Big Ten or Notre Dame
Tennessee vs. Miami

Redbox Bowl, Santa Clara (4 p.m. ET, FOX)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Illinois vs. Arizona State

Dec. 31

Belk Bowl, Charlotte (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
SEC vs. ACC
Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, El Paso (2 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Pac-12 vs. ACC or Notre Dame
Cal vs. Wake Forest

Liberty Bowl, Memphis (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big 12 vs. SEC
Iowa State vs. Cincinnati

Arizona Bowl, Tucson (4:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
MWC vs. Sun Belt
Nevada vs. Appalachian State

Alamo Bowl, San Antonio (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
Texas vs. USC

Jan. 1

Citrus Bowl, Orlando (1 p.m. ET, ABC)
Big Ten vs. SEC
Wisconsin vs. Auburn

Outback Bowl, Tampa (1 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Big Ten vs. SEC
Penn State vs. Florida

Jan. 2

Birmingham Bowl (3 p.m. ET, ESPN)
SEC vs. American
North Carolina vs. SMU

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, Jacksonville (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
SEC vs. ACC or Big Ten or Notre Dame
Texas A&M vs. Indiana

Jan. 3

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
MAC vs. MWC
Toledo vs. Wyoming

Jan 4

Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth (11:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
MWC vs. Big Ten
Air Force vs. Fresno State

Jan. 6

Mobile Alabama Bowl (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Miami (Ohio) vs. Louisiana Monroe

New Year's Six Bowls

Cotton Bowl Classic, Arlington (Dec. 28, noon, ESPN)
At-large vs. At-large
Memphis vs. Baylor

Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens (Dec. 30, 8 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame
Virginia vs. Georgia

Rose Bowl Game, Pasadena (Jan. 1, 5 p.m., ESPN)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Minnesota vs. Utah

Sugar Bowl, New Orleans (Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m., ESPN)
SEC vs. Big 12
Alabama vs. Oklahoma

Fiesta Bowl, Glendale (Dec. 28, 4 or 8 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinalist vs. CFP semifinalist
Ohio State vs. Clemson

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, Atlanta (Dec. 28, 4 or 8 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinalist vs. CFP semifinalist
LSU vs. Oregon

College Football Playoff National Championship, New Orleans (Jan. 13, 8 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinal winner vs. CFP semifinal winner