Bowl projections: Pac-12's elite dominate New Year's Day bowls

BY Stewart Mandel • November 25, 2014

On Tuesday the selection committee let us know that Boise State, not Marshall, is its highest-ranked Group of 5 team, and if the Broncos do win the Mountain West (they face 9-3 Utah State this week for a trip to the conference title game), they will likely earn the automatic New Year’s Six berth. As a result, I adjusted my projected lineup from earlier this week.

In a bowl oddity, there is now actually a surplus of Western teams in my lineup. Someone would have to get shipped east. In this scenario, that’s UCLA.  

I also moved around a few Mountain West teams to account for Boise moving up (and included Fresno State, an inadvertent omission earlier this week) and moved around some C-USA teams to make room for Marshall.

I’m now projecting 83 eligible teams for 78 spots. The unlucky ones left out this week: Ohio, Akron, UTEP, Arkansas State and Western Kentucky. 


Dec. 31 Peach Atlanta Michigan State (at-large) vs. UCLA (at-large)
Dec. 31 Fiesta Glendale, Arizona Arizona (at-large) vs. Boise State (Group of 5)   
Dec. 31 Orange Miami Georgia Tech (ACC) vs. Mississippi State (SEC/B1G/ND)
Jan. 1 Cotton Arlington, Texas Ohio State (Big Ten champ) vs. TCU (at-large)
Jan. 1 Rose Pasadena, California Oregon (CFP No. 2) vs. Florida State (CFP No. 3)
Jan. 1 Sugar New Orleans Alabama (CFP No. 1) vs. Baylor (CFP No. 4)


Dec. 20 New Orleans New Orleans, La. Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt) vs. Nevada (MWC)
Dec. 20 New Mexico Albuquerque, N.M. San Diego State (MWC) vs. Rice (C-USA)
Dec. 20 Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nev. Colorado State (MWC No. 1) vs. Stanford (Pac-12 No. 6) 
Dec. 20 Idaho Potato Boise, Idaho Air Force (MWC) vs. Western Michigan (MAC)
Dec. 20 Camellia Montgomery, Ala. Texas State (Sun Belt) vs. Central Michigan (MAC) 
Dec. 22 Miami Beach Miami, Fla. Memphis (American) vs. BYU (BYU)
Dec. 23 Boca Raton Boca Raton, Fla. Middle Tennessee (C-USA) vs. Toledo (MAC)
Dec. 23 Poinsettia San Diego, Calif. Utah State (MWC) vs. Navy (Navy)
Dec. 24 Bahamas Nassau, Bahamas Bowling Green (MAC) vs. Louisiana Tech (C-USA) 
Dec. 24 Hawaii Honolulu, Hawaii Fresno State (MWC) vs. UAB (C-USA)
Dec. 26 Heart of Dallas Dallas, Texas Rutgers (B1G) vs. Marshall (C-USA)
Dec. 26 Quick Lane Detroit, Mich. Northwestern (B1G) vs. Virginia Tech (ACC Nos. 7-9)
Dec. 26 St. Petersburg St. Petersburg, Fla. UCF (American) vs. NC State (ACC No. 10)
Dec. 27 Military Annapolis, Md. Boston College (ACC Nos. 7-9) vs. East Carolina (American)
Dec. 27 Sun El Paso, Texas North Carolina (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Washington (Pac-12 No. 5)
Dec. 27 Independence Shreveport, La. Miami (ACC Nos. 7-9) vs. South Carolina (SEC Nos. 9-10)
Dec. 27 Pinstripe Bronx, N.Y. Duke (ACC Nos. 3-6) vs. Penn State (B1G)
Dec. 27 Holiday San Diego, Calif. USC (Pac-12 No. 3) vs. Iowa (B1G)
Dec. 29 Liberty Memphis, Tenn. Arkansas (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Texas (Big 12 No. 5)
Dec. 29 Russell Athletic Orlando, Fla. Kansas State (Big 12 No. 3) vs. Clemson (ACC No. 2)
Dec. 29 Texas Houston, Texas Texas A&M (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. West Virginia (Big 12 No. 4)
Dec. 30 Music City Nashville, Tenn. LSU (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Louisville (ACC Nos. 3-6)
Dec. 30 Belk Charlotte, N.C. Auburn (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Notre Dame (ACC Nos. 3-6)
Dec. 30 Foster Farms Santa Clara, Calif. Utah (Pac-12 No. 4) vs. Nebraska (B1G)
Jan. 1 Citrus Orlando, Fla. Georgia (SEC No. 2) vs. Wisconsin (B1G)
Jan. 1 Outback Tampa, Fla. Minnesota (B1G) vs. Ole Miss (SEC Nos. 3-8) 
Jan. 2 Armed Forces Fort Worth, Texas Houston (American) vs. Florida* (Army/Big 12 No. 7)
Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Jacksonville, Fla. Missouri (SEC Nos. 3-8) vs. Maryland (B1G)
Jan. 2 Alamo San Antonio, Texas Oklahoma (Big 12 No. 2) vs. Arizona State (Pac-12 No. 2)
Jan. 2 Cactus Tempe, Ariz. Temple* (Big 12 No. 6) vs. Cal (Pac-12 No. 7)
Jan. 3 Birmingham Birmingham, Alab. Cincinnati (American) vs. Tennessee (SEC Nos. 9-10)
Jan. 4 GoDaddy Mobile, Alab. Northern Illinois (MAC No. 1) vs. South Alabama (Sun Belt)

Teams in bold have officially accepted a bid.

* -- Replacement for a conference without enough eligible teams.

** -- Notre Dame is eligible for any ACC bowl as long as it’s within one win of the highest available ACC team.

Stewart Mandel is a senior college sports columnist for He covered college football and basketball for 15 years at Sports Illustrated. His new book, “The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the College Football Playoff,” is now available on Amazon. You can follow him on Twitter @slmandel. Send emails and Mailbag questions to

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