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New bowl projections, now that Oklahoma's already in the College Football Playoff

It's time to predict who'll play in every bowl game, with only one week to go before Selection Sunday.

Update: New Playoff rankings are out, with no changes needed due to them.

If you think we need an eight-team Playoff, take a look at the schedule for the final weekend of the regular season. The four-team tournament is meeting you halfway anyway.

Iowa and Michigan State will meet in the Big Ten Championship for a Playoff play-in game. Clemson and North Carolina are in the ACC Championship for what seems like another (the Heels should rank comfortably in the top 10 going in and, with a win, would jump Clemson and the B1G title loser, plus get the bumps from a conference title and beating the No. 1 team).

A 25-point Florida loss to Florida State means the SEC Championship likely only has one Playoff contender, and the Pac-12's game might end up not having any, despite Stanford winning an eliminator against Notre Dame this weekend.

Seems like we can expect to have at least one play-in game in the final weekend of the season in most years. So we can pretend the Playoff's expanded just a little bit, but not too much yet.

College Football Playoff
National Championship Alabama Clemson January 11 Glendale, AZ Cotton winner vs. Orange winner
Cotton No. 2 Alabama No. 3 Michigan State December 31 Arlington, TX Playoff rankings top 4
Orange No. 1 Clemson No. 4 Oklahoma December 31 Miami Playoff rankings top 4

Take a moment to laugh at all the individuals who spent the offseason telling you the Big 12's 10-team setup and lack of a conference title game would hurt its Playoff chances forever, based on one year of evidence. Let's pause for that laughter.

The Sooners are now free to begin Playoff prep, having tacked a blowout of No. 11 Oklahoma State onto their No. 3 ranking to conclude their schedule. If they still had a conference championship to go, they'd be at risk of not making the Playoff at all.

(This is your reminder that the Big 12 Championship, when it existed, cost the league far more national title shots than it ever enabled.)

Anyway, a Big Ten champion MSU might jump OU due to strength of schedule (advanced stats will prefer MSU over the Hawkeyes by a good bit), but everything else in this group is straightforward.

New Year's Six bowls
Fiesta Notre Dame Houston January 1 Glendale, AZ At-large
Rose Ohio State Stanford January 1 Pasadena, CA Big Ten 1 vs. Pac-12 1
Sugar Baylor Ole Miss January 1 New Orleans Big 12 1 vs. SEC 1
Peach Florida State Iowa December 31 Atlanta At-large

The four games with conference ties seem pretty set, unless the Cardinal can crack the Playoff.

The Rose insists it'll take the highest-ranked teams from its conferences, no questions asked, and if the Big Ten Championship loser is Iowa, it's gonna have a hard time staying ahead of the Buckeyes. Same for the Spartans too, maybe.

The currently No. 12 Gators are likely to add a second straight loss next week, as No. 18 Ole Miss gets a boost from beating No. 21 Mississippi State and awaits further movement.

Houston's in with a win over Temple (or vice versa) in the AAC Championship, Notre Dame and Florida State seem like solid bets to rank in the New Year's Six, and Northwestern (!) might be the first team out.

Bowl (* = filling another conference's bid; ** = uh, let's talk about this) Conferences ties and selection order, not based on standings
Alamo TCU Oregon January 2 San Antonio Big 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2
Cactus West Virginia UCLA January 2 Tempe, AZ Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7
Liberty Kansas State Arkansas January 2 Memphis Big 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8
TaxSlayer Penn State LSU January 2 Jacksonville, FL ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8
Citrus Michigan Florida January 1 Orlando Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 2
Outback Northwestern Tennessee January 1 Tampa Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8
Belk Virginia Tech Mississippi State December 30 Charlotte ACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8
Birmingham Memphis Auburn December 30 Birmingham, AL American vs. SEC 9
Holiday Wisconsin Utah December 30 San Diego Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3
Music City Pitt Georgia December 30 Nashville ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8
Arizona Marshall Nevada December 29 Tucson C-USA vs. MWC
Armed Forces Arizona State* Air Force December 29 Fort Worth, TX Big Ten vs. MWC
Russell Athletic North Carolina Oklahoma State December 29 Orlando ACC 2 vs. Big 12 3
Texas Texas Tech Texas A&M December 29 Houston Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8
Military NC State Navy December 28 Annapolis, MD ACC vs. American
Quick Lane Duke Nebraska** December 28 Detroit ACC vs. Big Ten
Foster Farms Minnesota** USC December 26 Santa Clara, CA Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4
Heart of Dallas Washington* Western Kentucky December 26 Dallas Big 12 7 vs. C-USA
Independence Western Michigan* Illinois** December 26 Shreveport, LA ACC vs. SEC (C-USA backup)
Pinstripe Louisville Indiana December 26 New York City ACC 3-6 vs. Big Ten 5-7
St. Petersburg UConn San Jose State** December 26 St. Petersburg, FL American vs. C-USA
Sun Miami Washington State December 26 El Paso ACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5
Bahamas Middle Tennessee Akron December 24 Nassau, BS C-USA vs. MAC
Hawaii Tulsa Colorado State December 24 Honolulu American vs. MWC/BYU
GoDaddy Bowling Green Georgia Southern December 23 Mobile, AL MAC 1 vs. Sun Belt 2
Poinsettia San Diego State Arizona* December 23 San Diego MWC vs. Army
Boca Raton Cincinnati Ohio December 22 Boca Raton, FL American vs. MAC
Potato Toledo Boise State December 22 Boise, ID MAC 2 vs. MWC
Miami Beach Temple Southern Miss December 21 Miami American vs. C-USA
Camelia Northern Illinois Appalachian State December 19 Montgomery, AL MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3
Cure USF Utah State* December 19 Orlando American vs. Sun Belt
Las Vegas BYU Cal December 19 Las Vegas MWC 1/BYU vs. Pac-12 6
New Mexico Central Michigan* New Mexico December 19 Albuquerque C-USA vs. MWC
New Orleans Arkansas State Louisiana Tech December 19 New Orleans Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA

So, we finally did it. We literally have too many bowl games now.


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Odds are good we'll only have 76 bowl-eligible teams, according to the classical definition. This means some 5-7 teams are going bowling.

The NCAA has a built-in rule for this, using Academic Progress Rate as a fallback qualifier. But nobody knows how this comes into play.

I'm taking a wild stab in the dark here by grabbing the four highest APR teams that aren't already eligible (Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, San Jose State) and putting them with what happen to be available conference ties. Will those teams be offered? Would they even accept? Is this sport always impossibly ridiculous? I don't know; I don't know; yes.

Anyway, this week's angriest fans will be Washington State's. I'm just guessing and am not actually in charge of anything. I just don't see the Holiday Bowl going with a more distant, smaller school that has fewer wins and less attendance than Utah, and if the Foster Farms Bowl is stuck with one of those 5-7 Big Ten teams, it's kind of got to reach for a big name from the Pac-12, right?