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Here are 2 versions of full 2018 bowl projections. Decide whether you prefer the boring ones or the fun ones.

First, what the postseason will look like if nothing goes off the rails. After that, what the postseason will look like if everything gets all college football.

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s try something fun with preseason bowl projections this year.

(Yes, preseason bowl projections. I do these every August and update them after every Saturday, up until Selection Sunday, all based on picking every game of the entire season, watching games all weekend long, studying stats ... and otherwise going with whatever Bill Connelly’s opinion is. It’s a hobby that counts as work.)

The problem with doing these in the preseason is that some non-obsessed fans just want to know how their team’s expected to do, while the hardcores have seen all the predictions since January and just want to see some weird ideas.

So let’s give you both in one post.

To be clear:

  1. Up first are the conventional-wisdom, generic, if-the-season-plays-out-exactly-as-Las-Vegas-predicts version. This is what the postseason would look like if America’s most chaotic sport somehow made it four months without any chaos. Do not blame me for these.
  2. After that: a totally separate list of bowl predictions. We’ll call that list The Fun Zone. Blame me for The Fun Zone.

First, here are the super normie 2018 bowl projections, for people who desire very serious information and think college football always goes according to script. Prepare to snore.

College Football Playoff

  • Cotton semifinal (Arlington, Texas): No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Ohio State
  • Orange semifinal (Miami): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Washington
  • National Championship (Santa Clara, California): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Clemson for like the 37th time

The rest of the New Year’s Six

  • Sugar (New Orleans): Oklahoma vs. Georgia
  • Rose (Pasadena, Calif.): Wisconsin vs. USC
  • Peach (Atlanta): Miami vs. Auburn
  • Fiesta (Glendale, Arizona): Boise State vs. Penn State

Everything else

  • Citrus (Orlando): Michigan vs. Mississippi State
  • Outback (Tampa): Michigan State vs. LSU
  • Gator (Jacksonville): Nebraska vs. Florida
  • Holiday (San Diego): Iowa vs. Stanford
  • Liberty (Memphis): West Virginia vs. Arkansas
  • Military (Annapolis): Navy vs. Duke
  • Sun (El Paso): Louisville vs. Arizona
  • Belk (Charlotte): Florida State vs. Missouri
  • Alamo (San Antonio): Texas vs. Oregon
  • Arizona (Tucson): Wyoming vs. Georgia Southern
  • Camping World (Orlando): Notre Dame vs. TCU
  • Music City (Nashville): Virginia Tech vs. South Carolina
  • Texas (Houston): Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
  • Pinstripe (New York City): NC State vs. Minnesota
  • Independence (Shreveport, Louisiana): Southern Miss* vs. Kansas State*
  • Cheez-It (Phoenix): Iowa State vs. Cal
  • Quick Lane (Detroit): Syracuse vs. Purdue
  • First Responders (Dallas): Texas Tech* vs. North Texas
  • San Francisco: Northwestern vs. Utah
  • Hawaii: UAB vs. Utah State
  • Dollar General (Mobile): NIU vs. ULM
  • Armed Forces (Fort Worth): Houston vs. Baylor
  • Birmingham: UCF vs. Kentucky
  • Potato (Boise): Buffalo vs. UNLV
  • Bahamas: Marshall vs. Toledo
  • Gasparilla (Tampa): USF vs. Wake Forest
  • Frisco (Texas): SMU vs. Ohio
  • Boca Raton: Memphis vs. FAU
  • New Orleans: LA Tech vs. Arkansas State
  • Camellia (Montgomery, Alabama): EMU vs. Troy
  • Las Vegas: San Diego State vs. Washington State
  • Cure (Orlando): Temple vs. Appalachian State
  • New Mexico (Albuquerque): MTSU vs. Fresno State

* Filling in another conference’s unused spot.

Wow, that was baseball boring. It’s time to get rowdy. Here’s a way better version of 2018 bowl projections.

College Football Playoff

  • Cotton (Arlington, Texas): No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Michigan
  • Orange (Miami): No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 4 TCU


In the Cotton: quite possibly the country’s two best defenses. Clemson might be the least avoidable CFP pick, but I think the Wolverines might be really undervalued right now. They’re No. 14 in the AP Poll, despite almost every game of the Jim Harbaugh era either being a blowout win or a close loss. (I said “almost.”) I don’t even think Shea Patterson has to totally fulfill his hype; if 2017 Michigan had merely had healthy QBing, it could’ve won 10 games for the third year in a row, despite a big rebuild. Either way, rebuild’s over.

From the SEC, Auburn is always the more entertaining answer than Alabama, no matter the question. A win over Washington in Week 1 would set the Tigers up really nicely. All they’d have to do is lose the Iron Bowl and not make the SEC title game, and they’d be in the Playoff. That’s how it works now, right?

And I’ve found a way to pick TCU to make the Playoff yet again, after the Frogs failed me so many times before, but I’ve masked it beneath this whole lie about the fun version not being my actual, serious picks. If it works, that’s what I’ll claim, at least.

  • National Championship (Santa Clara, Calif.): No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 2 Clemson, also for like the 37th time, but again: Auburn is fun Alabama!

New Year’s Six

  • Sugar (New Orleans): Texas vs. Georgia
  • Rose (Pasadena, Calif.): Wisconsin vs. Washington
  • Peach (Atlanta): Miami vs. Ohio State

One big reason for giving the grumpy folks the unseasoned projections up top: no one can accuse me of overrating Texas. How can I have overrated Texas, when Oklahoma is clearly listed as the Big 12 champ at some point in this post?

I think Texas is going to be 9-3 this year, I think 2017 Oklahoma minus Baker Mayfield would’ve gone about 8-4, and I’d like to be able to state all that somewhere on the internet without 18,000 Texas A&M fans going all TEXAS IS BACK LOOLL at me, as if I’m the one who’s responsible for Texas being overrated every year before this one (this is actually a myth, since Big 12 media has almost perfectly predicted UT’s finishes since 2010, but whatever). Thank you for listening.

(Apply all that logic to the Michigan CFP pick as well, please.)

(Also, OSU is probably better than UW, but this rearranges the B1G games a little, just to avoid a Miami-UW rematch bowl.)

Wait, forgot one NY6 game.

  • Fiesta (Glendale, Ariz.): UCF vs. Alabama

Lmao you’re welcome.

Everything else

  • Citrus (Orlando): Michigan State vs. Mississippi State, the ultimate battle of DISRESPECTed GRITitude. The winner is The Real MSU of FBS.
  • Outback (Tampa): Penn State vs. LSU
  • Gator (Jacksonville): Nebraska vs. Florida, and some of these are the same as above. This is a game I project like 90 percent of the time anyway, partly because the Big Ten/SEC bowl ties are hard to innovate within, but mainly because I’m from the 1990s.
  • Holiday (San Diego): Iowa vs. Oregon
  • Liberty (Memphis): West Virginia vs. Arkansas, a game ON DRUGS from the coin flip onward.
  • Military (Annapolis, MD): Navy vs. Boston College, a game NOT ON DRUGS AT ALL.
  • Sun (El Paso): Louisville vs. Utah
  • Belk (Charlotte): Notre Dame vs. South Carolina, the Holtz Bowl.
  • Alamo (San Antonio): Oklahoma vs. USC! Look! Finally, a game your dad would watch!
  • Arizona (Tucson): Fresno State vs. Duke*? OK, let me apologize for some of these ACC picks. I have almost the entire conference making it in, which means teams ending up in weird locales. UNC/Virginia fans, pretend I have you in the barely televised Arizona Bowl instead of sitting at home, and you’ll feel better about being left out.
  • Camping World (Orlando): Florida State vs. Oklahoma State
  • Music City (Nashville): NC State vs. Tennessee
  • Texas (Houston): Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M, YEEHAW!
  • Pinstripe (New York City): Virginia Tech vs. Minnesota
  • Independence (Shreveport): Wake Forest vs. Temple*
  • Cheez-It (Phoenix): Iowa State vs. Cal
  • Quick Lane (Detroit): Syracuse vs. Army*
  • First Responders (Dallas): Kansas State* vs. North Texas
  • San Francisco: Northwestern vs. Stanford
  • Hawaii: Marshall vs. Wyoming
  • Dollar General (Mobile): Ohio vs. Appalachian State, and the MAC/Sun Belt pairings are even more stringent, but this is still a good matchup.
  • Armed Forces (Fort Worth): Houston vs. Baylor
  • Birmingham: Memphis vs. Missouri, an 89-87 octuple-overtime rematch of their 89-87 octuple-overtime fiesta earlier in the year.
  • Potato (Boise): WMU vs. Colorado State
  • Bahamas: Southern Miss vs. Buffalo
  • Gasparilla (Tampa): USF vs. Pitt, a matchup I’m really proud of. Having long conquered Birmingham, Pitt needs a new weirdo Southern city to claim as its own.
  • Frisco (TX): SMU vs. Toledo
  • Boca Raton: Cincinnati vs. FAU, the third example in here of me sending a team to its own home stadium. Something about that always feels nice.
  • New Orleans: UAB vs. Troy
  • Camellia (Montgomery): NIU vs. Arkansas State
  • Las Vegas: Boise State vs. Arizona. A Fiesta Bowl rematch so soon?
  • Cure (Orlando): Georgia Tech* vs. Georgia Southern? Again, I’m sorry, ACC. Option lovers, however: hello.
  • New Mexico (Albuquerque): MTSU vs. San Diego State

* Filling in another conference’s unused spot.

As always, I made these predictions after picking each game of the FBS season, tallying up records, and slotting teams in the most interesting spots available. Later in the season, I’ll start caring about what’s actually the most realistic.

The most important thing to remember: Most bowls do not care about your team finishing slightly ahead of a bigger, more popular team. Most only care about selling tickets. Life isn’t fair.