Bowl projections: Will win vs. Buckeyes kick-start Spartans title run?

Florida State will not get a shot to play for the national title this season, but the 9-2 ’Noles will likely earn a New Year’s Six bowl berth if they beat rival Florida on Saturday. If so, it would send a ripple effect through the ACC’s bowl lineup. Most notably, if Virginia Tech beats Virginia this week to get bowl-eligible, Frank Beamer will get his sendoff in either Charlotte (Belk) or Jacksonville (TaxSlayer).

Meanwhile, the Pac-12’s lineup is very fluid. The winner of this week’s USC-UCLA game will play for the conference title, but the loser could fall anywhere from the Holiday to the Vegas bowls. And if, as I’m predicting, 5-6 Washington upsets 8-3 Washington State, the league will have 10 eligible teams for seven spots.

All in all, though, last weekend did no favors for those crossing their fingers that we get to 80 six-win teams. Three I’d been including, Rice, Louisiana-Lafayette and South Alabama, no longer appear here. Two newcomers, UConn (which got eligible last week) and East Carolina (which will if it beats 6-5 Cincinnati), joined the fold, but that left me one short. So, welcome back Nebraska.


Dec. 31 Peach Atlanta Michigan (at-large) vs. Temple (Group of 5)
Dec. 31   Cotton (semifinal) Arlington, Texas Alabama (CFP No. 2) vs. Michigan St. (CFP No. 3) 
Dec. 31   Orange (semifinal) Miami  Clemson (CFP No. 1) vs. Oklahoma (CFP No. 4)
Jan. 1  Fiesta  Glendale, Ariz. Notre Dame (at-large) vs. Florida State (at-large)
Jan. 1  Rose  Pasadena, Calif. Iowa (B1G) vs. Stanford (Pac-12)
Jan. 1    Sugar New Orleans Florida (SEC) vs. Baylor (Big 12)


Dec. 19   Cure Orlando, Fla. Connecticut (American) vs. Nevada* (Sun Belt)
Dec. 19  New Mexico Albuquerque New Mexico (MWC) vs. W. Michigan* (C-USA)
Dec. 19 Las Vegas Las Vegas San Diego St. (MWC No. 1 or BYU) vs. UCLA (Pac-12 No. 6)
Dec. 19 Camellia Montgomery, Ala. Georgia Southern (Sun Belt) vs. NIU (MAC)
Dec. 19 New Orleans  New Orleans Arkansas State (Sun Belt) vs. Southern Miss (C-USA)
Dec. 21 Miami Beach Miami Houston (American) vs. W. Kentucky (C-USA)
Dec. 22 Idaho Potato Boise Colorado St. (MWC) vs. Buffalo (MAC)
Dec. 22 Boca Raton Boca Raton, Fla. Memphis (American) vs. Toledo (MAC)
Dec. 23 Poinsettia San Diego Boise State (MWC) vs. Akron (MAC)
Dec. 23  GoDaddy  Mobile, Ala. Bowling Green (MAC) vs. Appalachian St. (Sun Belt)
Dec. 24 Bahamas Nassau Ohio (MAC) vs. La. Tech (C-USA)
Dec. 24 Hawaii Honolulu Tulsa (American) vs. BYU (MWC or BYU)
Dec. 26 St. Petersburg  St. Petersburg USF (American) vs. Marshall (C-USA)
Dec. 26  Sun El Paso, Texas Louisville (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Washington St. (Pac-12 No. 5)
Dec. 26 Heart of Dallas Dallas E. Carolina* (Big 12) vs. Middle Tennessee (C-USA)
Dec. 26 Pinstripe Bronx, N.Y. Pittsburgh (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Arizona* (B1G Nos. 5-7)
Dec. 26 Independence Shreveport, La. Duke (ACC Nos. 7-9) vs. Cal* (SEC No. 10)
Dec. 26 Foster Farms Santa Clara, Calif. USC (Pac-12 No. 4) vs. Indiana (B1G Nos. 5-7)
Dec. 28  Military Annapolis, Md. Miami (ACC Nos. 7-9) vs. Navy (American)
Dec. 28 Quick Lane Detroit Nebraska+ (B1G Nos. 8-9) vs. C. Michigan* (ACC Nos. 7-9)
Dec. 29 Arizona Tucson Utah State (MWC) vs. Old Dominion (C-USA)
Dec. 29 Armed Forces Fort Worth, Texas  Air Force (MWC) vs. Washington* (B1G Nos. 8-9)
Dec. 29 Russell Athletic Orlando, Fla. North Carolina (ACC No. 2) vs. TCU (Big 12 No. 3)
Dec. 29 Texas Houston Texas A&M (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Texas Tech (Big 12 No. 4)
Dec. 30 Birmingham Birmingham, Ala. Cincinnati (American) vs. Auburn (SEC No. 9)
Dec. 30 Belk Charlotte, N.C. Ole Miss (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Virginia Tech (ACC Nos. 3-6)
Dec. 30 Music City Nashville, Tenn. Georgia (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Penn State (B1G Nos. 5-7)
Dec. 30 Holiday San Diego Utah (Pac-12 No. 3) vs. Wisconsin (B1G Nos. 2-4)
Jan. 1 Outback Tampa, Fla. Northwestern (B1G Nos. 2-4) vs. Tennessee (SEC Nos. 3-8) 
Jan. 1 Citrus Orlando, Fla. Mississippi St. (SEC No. 2) vs. Ohio St. (B1G Nos. 2-4)
Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Jacksonville, Fla. LSU (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. NC State (ACC Nos. 3-6)
Jan. 2 Liberty Memphis, Tenn. Arkansas (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Kansas St. (Big 12 No. 5)
Jan. 2 Alamo San Antonio Oklahoma St. (Big 12 No. 2) vs. Oregon (Pac-12 No. 2)
Jan. 2 Cactus Tempe, Ariz. West Virginia (Big 12 No. 6) vs. Arizona St. (Pac-12 No. 7)

* replacement for a conference without enough eligible teams

+ projected 5-7 team

Stewart Mandel is a senior college sports columnist for He covered college football and basketball for 15 years at Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter @slmandel and Facebook. Send emails and Mailbag questions to