Bowl projections: Sparty nabs playoff berth, but Rose smells sweet for Iowa
Let’s take one more stab at this before Saturday’s games.
First of all, my New Year’s Six lineup is based on the favorites holding serve this weekend and Iowa losing the Big Ten title game but remaining above Ohio State to land in Pasadena. (In this scenario, it finishes No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Iowa, No. 7 OSU). If Michigan State blows out the Hawkeyes, they’ll fall below the Buckeyes and head to the Fiesta instead. If Iowa wins Saturday, Ohio State likely finishes above two-loss Sparty despite the head-to-head result.
Of the 12 spots in those six bowls, at least three will go to teams currently ranked outside of the Top 10 — No. 12 Baylor (as the Big 12’s rep) and either No. 13 Ole Miss or No. 18 Florida in the Sugar Bowl and either No. 19 Houston or No. 22 Temple as the Group of Five champ. So No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 9 Florida State are currently just on the right side of the bubble.
As for the rest of the lineup, the most intriguing potential matchup I now have is a BYU-Utah Las Vegas Bowl. (BYU accepted its bid earlier this week.) The Holy War rivals have not met since 2013. If Stanford wins the Pac-12 championship, don’t be surprised if the Holiday Bowl takes 8-5 USC for a second straight year, in which case the Utes may slip all the way to the league’s No. 6 bowl. (The bowls ahead of it can take any team within one conference win of the 6-3 Utes.)
Elsewhere, the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl is eyeing either LSU or Georgia; however, if it takes LSU, the 9-3 Dawgs may plummet now that Mark Richt is not coaching in the bowl. The SEC’s pool system is designed to avoid those situations and thus I’m assuming the league will step in and prevent it. The Texas Bowl in Houston covets LSU as well and is much closer to Baton Rouge.
In the ACC, I bucked the conference’s written rules in placing Duke (7-5, 4-4) in the "Tier 1" Pinstripe Bowl while relegating Pitt (8-4, 6-2) to the "Tier 2" Military Bowl. The New York game is pushing hard to get the Blue Devils, while the Panthers would actually land a better opponent, No. 23 Navy, in Annapolis.
Finally, my all-Mountain West Arizona Bowl matchup (Colorado State vs. San Jose State) is not an oversight. Someone’s going to get stuck with the 5-7 Spartans, and teams from other leagues won’t be flocking to a first-year bowl being televised on the American Sports Network. At least the two did not play during the regular season.
Teams in bold have accepted a bid
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF BOWLS
|Dec. 31||Peach||Atlanta||Florida State (at-large) vs. Houston (Group of 5)|
|Dec. 31||Cotton||Arlington, Texas||Alabama (CFP No. 2) vs. Oklahoma (CFP No. 3)|
|Dec. 31||Orange||Miami||Clemson (CFP No. 1) vs. Michigan St. (CFP No. 4)|
|Jan. 1||Fiesta||Glendale, Ariz.||Notre Dame (at-large) vs. Ohio State (at-large)|
|Jan. 1||Rose||Pasadena, Calif.||Iowa (B1G) vs. Stanford (Pac-12)|
|Jan. 1||Sugar||New Orleans||Ole Miss (SEC) vs. Oklahoma St. (Big 12)|
|Dec. 19||Cure||Orlando, Fla.||Tulsa (American) vs. Georgia St. (Sun Belt)|
|Dec. 19||New Mexico||Albuquerque||New Mexico (MWC) vs. Arizona* (C-USA)|
|Dec. 19||Las Vegas||Las Vegas||BYU (BYU) vs. Utah (Pac-12 No. 6)|
|Dec. 19||Camellia||Montgomery, Ala.||Appalachian State (Sun Belt) vs. Ohio (MAC)|
|Dec. 19||New Orleans||New Orleans||Arkansas State (Sun Belt) vs. La. Tech (C-USA)|
|Dec. 21||Miami Beach||Miami||USF (American) vs. W. Kentucky (C-USA)|
|Dec. 22||Idaho Potato||Boise||Utah State (MWC) vs. Akron (MAC)|
|Dec. 22||Boca Raton||Boca Raton, Fla.||Connecticut (American) vs. NIU (MAC)|
|Dec. 23||Poinsettia||San Diego||Boise State (MWC) vs. Toledo (MAC)|
|Dec. 23||GoDaddy||Mobile, Ala.||Bowling Green (MAC) vs. Georgia Southern (Sun Belt)|
|Dec. 24||Bahamas||Nassau||W. Michigan (MAC) vs. Middle Tennessee (C-USA)|
|Dec. 24||Hawaii||Honolulu||Cincinnati (American) vs. San Diego St. (MWC)|
|Dec. 26||St. Petersburg||St. Petersburg, Fla.||Temple (American) vs. Marshall (C-USA)|
|Dec. 26||Sun||El Paso, Texas||Miami (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Washington St. (Pac-12 No. 5)|
|Dec. 26||Heart of Dallas||Dallas||Nevada* (Big 12) vs. Southern Miss (C-USA)|
|Dec. 26||Pinstripe||Bronx, N.Y.||Duke (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Indiana (B1G Nos. 5-7)|
|Dec. 26||Independence||Shreveport, La.||N.C. State (ACC Nos. 7-9) vs. Arizona St.* (SEC No. 10)|
|Dec. 26||Foster Farms||Santa Clara, Calif.||UCLA (Pac-12 No. 4) vs. Nebraska+ (B1G Nos. 5-7)|
|Dec. 28||Military||Annapolis, Md.||Pittsburgh (ACC Nos. 7-9) vs. Navy (American)|
|Dec. 28||Quick Lane||Detroit||Minnesota+ (B1G Nos. 8-9) vs. C. Michigan* (ACC Nos. 7-9)|
|Dec. 29||Arizona||Tucson||Colorado State (MWC) vs. San Jose St.*+ (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. Baylor (Big 12 No. 3)|
|Dec. 29||Texas||Houston||LSU (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Texas Tech (Big 12 No. 4)|
|Dec. 30||Birmingham||Birmingham, Ala.||Memphis (American) vs. Auburn (SEC No. 9)|
|Dec. 30||Belk||Charlotte, N.C.||Mississippi St. (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Virginia Tech (ACC Nos. 3-6)|
|Dec. 30||Music City||Nashville, Tenn.||Texas A&M (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Louisville (ACC Nos. 3-6)|
|Dec. 30||Holiday||San Diego||USC (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.||Florida (SEC No. 2) vs. Michigan (B1G Nos. 2-4)|
|Jan. 2||TaxSlayer||Jacksonville, Fla.||Georgia (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Penn State (B1G Nos. 5-7)|
|Jan. 2||Liberty||Memphis, Tenn.||Arkansas (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Kansas St. (Big 12 No. 5)|
|Jan. 2||Alamo||San Antonio||TCU (Big 12 No. 2) vs. Oregon (Pac-12 No. 2)|
|Jan. 2||Cactus||Tempe, Ariz.||West Virginia (Big 12 No. 6) vs. Cal (Pac-12 No. 7)|
* replacement for a conference without enough eligible teams
+ 5-7 team
Stewart Mandel is a senior college sports columnist for FOXSports.com. 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 Stewart.Mandel@fox.com.