Bowl projections: Predicting the playoff, every bowl game after Week 6

There’s a wide range of confidence levels in's bowl projections after Week 6. For instance, you probably won’t be surprised to see Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson in the projected College Football Playoff field. Washington claiming the fourth spot isn’t exactly shocking either.

But then there are the projections that after six weeks of games still feel very much like guesswork. Like picking which Pac-12 team will play in the Rose Bowl if Washington does make the playoff. A Stanford team coming off two blowout defeats? Washington State, which lost its first two games of the season, including one to an FCS foe, but has been hot ever since? Or Utah, which lost to a Cal squad that fell to lowly Oregon State this week?

And then there’s sorting out how the ACC Coastal will play out after Miami lost to Florida State and Virginia Tech thumped North Carolina. Despite these difficulties, we do our best to take the information we have and make informed predictions. At least some things are certain: 6–0 Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Texas A&M, Washington and Western Michigan will be bowling this winter.

A reminder about how the college football postseason works: The playoff selection committee will choose the teams for the two playoff semifinals—the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl this year—and the four other marquee bowls that are part of the New Year’s Six. The highest ranked Group of Five conference champion must play in one of those six games, and other games, such as the Rose Bowl, have conference tie-ins.

The remaining bowl games are also governed by agreements with the 10 FBS conferences, though if a league doesn’t produce enough bowl-eligible teams to fulfill all of its tie-ins, that bowl can select another conference’s representative. In some cases, leagues will pool together their bowl tie-ins to create more flexibility. The Music City Bowl, for example, can choose either an ACC or Big Ten team to face an SEC opponent.

And lastly, just because a bowl may be designated to have a particular order of selection among a conference’s teams doesn’t mean it has to adhere exactly to the standings. The Alamo Bowl’s second choice among Pac-12 teams, for example, does not require it to choose the No. 2 available team from the Pac-12 standings or from the playoff committee’s rankings. Other factors, such as location, the matchup, the size of a school’s fan base and the willingness of that fan base to travel, can influence bowls’ decisions.

New Year's Six bowls

Bowl Date Location Matchup Pick
Peach (semifinal) Dec. 31 Atlanta TBD vs. TBD Alabama vs. Washington
Fiesta (semifinal) Dec. 31 Glendale, Ariz. TBD vs. TBD Ohio State vs. Clemson
Orange Dec. 30 Miami ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND Louisville vs. Tennessee
Cotton Jan. 2 Arlington, Texas TBD vs. TBD Western Michigan vs. Wisconsin
Rose Jan. 2 Pasadena, Calif. Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Michigan vs. Utah
Sugar Jan. 2 New Orleans SEC vs. Big 12 Texas A&M vs. Baylor

Other bowls

bowl date location matchup pick
New Mexico Dec. 17 Albuquerque, N.M, C-USA vs. MW Old Dominion vs. Wyoming
Las Vegas Dec. 17 Las Vegas MW vs. Pac-12 Boise State vs. Colorado
Camellia Dec. 17 Montgomery, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt Eastern Michigan vs. New Mexico State
Cure Dec. 17 Orlando, Fla. AAC vs. Sun Belt Tulsa vs. Georgia Southern
New Orleans Dec. 17 New Orleans Sun Belt vs. C-USA Appalachian State vs. Southern Miss
Miami Beach Dec. 19 Miami AAC vs. MAC Temple vs. Central Michigan
Boca Raton Dec. 20 Boca Raton, Fla. AAC vs. C-USA Memphis vs. Louisiana Tech
Poinsettia Dec. 21 San Diego BYU vs. MW BYU vs. Air Force
Famous Idaho Potato Dec. 22 Boise, Idaho MAC vs. MW Toledo vs. San Diego State
Bahamas Dec. 23 Nassau, Bahamas AAC vs. MAC UConn vs. Ball State
Armed Forces Dec. 23 Fort Worth, Texas Big 12 vs. Navy Kansas State vs. Navy
Dollar General Dec. 23 Mobile, Ala. MAC vs. Sun Belt Ohio vs. Troy
Hawaii Dec. 24 Honolulu C-USA vs. MW Western Kentucky vs. Akron*
St. Petersburg Dec. 26 St. Petersburg, Fla. ACC vs. AAC Wake Forest vs. South Florida
Quick Lane Dec. 26 Detroit ACC vs. Big Ten NC State vs. Maryland
Independence Dec. 26 Shreveport, La. ACC vs. SEC Georgia Tech vs. Cincinnati*
Heart of Dallas Dec. 27 Dallas Big Ten vs. C-USA Texas Tech* vs. Middle Tennessee
Military Dec. 27 Annapolis, Md. ACC vs. AAC Army* vs. Houston
Holiday Dec. 27 San Diego Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Indiana vs. Arizona State
Cactus Dec. 27 Phoenix Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Texas vs. Washington State
Pinstripe Dec. 28 New York ACC vs. Big Ten North Carolina vs. Minnesota
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 Orlando, Fla. ACC vs. Big 12 Florida State vs. TCU
Foster Farms Dec. 28 Santa Clara, Calif. Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Penn State vs. USC
Texas Dec. 28 Houston Big 12 vs. SEC Oklahoma State vs. Georgia
Birmingham Dec. 29 Birmingham, Ala. AAC vs. SEC Tulane vs. Kentucky
Belk Dec. 29 Charlotte, N.C. ACC vs. SEC Virginia Tech vs. Auburn
Alamo Dec. 29 San Antonio Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Oklahoma vs. Stanford
Arizona Dec. 30 Tucson, Ariz. MW vs. Sun Belt New Mexico vs. South Alabama
Liberty Dec. 30 Memphis, Tenn. Big 12 vs. SEC West Virginia vs. LSU
Sun Dec. 30 El Paso, Texas ACC vs. Pac-12 Pittsburgh vs. UCLA
Music City Dec. 30 Nashville, Ten.. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Michigan State vs. Missouri
TaxSlayer Dec. 31 Jacksonville, Fla. ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC Miami vs. Arkansas
Citrus Dec. 31 Orlando, Fla. Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC Iowa vs. Ole Miss
Outback Jan. 2 Tampa, Fla. Big Ten vs. SEC Nebraska vs. Florida

*Replacement team

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