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Updated 2016 bowl projections, with clear paths to the College Football Playoff

Your weekly look at predictions for all 40 college football bowl games, freshened up after Week 6.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The country is down to 11 undefeated teams. The SEC's remaining two will be whittled to one within two weeks, when Texas A&M travels to Alabama. The Big 12 and Big Ten will be down to only one each by selection Sunday. The ACC and Pac-12 are already down to only one each. Only Boise State and Western Michigan remain unbeaten among mid-majors.

So right now, the Playoff picture looks suspiciously clear. The winners of the ACC, Big Ten, and SEC are likely in, and the Pac-12 looks like it has the inside track for the fourth spot. The Big 12 certainly isn't out, though. And Boise's strength of schedule has gotten a couple key boosts lately, so we might not want to count out the entire Group of 5 just because Houston lost.

That's right now, though. This season's true Madness Weekend has yet to strike. It's always out there, circling.

For now, here's how I think things line up. As always, these are picks for how every bowl game could look at the end of the season, with adjustments sure to come next weekend and all weekends thereafter. Have a nice Sunday!

College Football Playoff
Dec. 31, Glendale, AZ
Clemson Michigan Playoff rankings top 4
Dec. 31, Atlanta
Alabama Washington Playoff rankings top 4
National Championship
Jan. 9, Tampa
Alabama Michigan Fiesta winner vs. Peach winner

Sticking with the same top four formula as last week: the obvious champions in three of the four favored conferences, with Michigan winning the weekly toss-up over Ohio State this time. I mean, UM did just give Rutgers the worst FBS loss of this millennium.

"But Rutgers is bad," one might say, to which I'd reply, "OF THE MILLENNIUM."

(In case you're just joining us, I've basically been switching the Buckeyes and Wolverines every week. There's no great argument for either team being clearly better or likelier to beat the other, but half the comment section will likely be about this anyway. That's fine.)

New Year's Six bowls
Jan. 2, Arlington, TX
Boise State Baylor At-large
Jan. 2, Pasadena, CA
Ohio State Utah Big Ten 1 vs. Pac-12 1
Jan. 2, New Orleans
Oklahoma Texas A&M Big 12 1 vs. SEC 1
Dec. 30, Miami
Louisville Tennessee ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND

These could all be pretty good on the field.

  • Michigan or OSU would probably destroy Utah, but we said the same about the Utes against Bama a few years ago.
  • Oklahoma-A&M would be a Big 12 reunion and a rematch of that time Johnny Manziel dunked on the Sooners.
  • Louisville-Tennessee should probably happen more often anyway.
  • Sure, I'll take Boise over Houston, Navy, San Diego State, USF, and WMU right now. The number of potential bowl teams on the Broncos' schedule has been slowly increasing, and that win over Washington State could soon be a win over a top-25 team, roughly on par with what Houston did against Oklahoma. Life's pretty funny!
  • Yeah, Baylor. I still figure the committee will try to avoid the Bears, but if they're 11-1, that's hard to do.

Conference selection order, not based on standings
Jan. 2, Tampa
Wisconsin Florida Big Ten 2-4 vs. SEC 3-8
Dec. 31, Orlando
Penn State Ole Miss Big Ten 2-4/ACC vs. SEC 2
Dec. 31, Jacksonville
Florida State Georgia ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8
Music City
Dec. 30, Nashville
Indiana Arkansas ACC 3-6/Big Ten 5-7 vs. SEC 3-8
Dec. 30, Memphis
Oklahoma State LSU Big 12 5 vs. SEC 3-8
Dec. 30, El Paso, TX
Pitt UCLA ACC 3-6 vs. Pac-12 5
Dec. 30, Tucson
Utah State Georgia Southern MWC vs. Sun Belt
Dec. 29, San Antonio
Texas Colorado Big 12 2 vs. Pac-12 2
Dec. 29, Charlotte
Virginia Tech Missouri ACC 3-6 vs. SEC 3-8
Dec. 29
Houston Arkansas State* American vs. SEC 9
Foster Farms
Dec. 28, Santa Clara, CA
Iowa USC Big Ten 5-7 vs. Pac-12 4
Dec. 28, New York City
North Carolina Maryland ACC 3-6 vs. Big Ten 5-7
Russell Athletic
Dec. 28, Orlando
Miami West Virginia ACC 2 vs. Big 12 3
Dec. 28, Houston
TCU Auburn Big 12 4 vs. SEC 3-8
Dec. 27, Tempe, AZ
Texas Tech Arizona State Big 12 6 vs. Pac-12 7
Heart of Dallas
Dec. 27
Minnesota WKU Big Ten vs. C-USA
Dec. 27, San Diego
Nebraska Washington State Big Ten 2-4 vs. Pac-12 3
Dec. 27, Annapolis, MD
Wake Forest USF ACC vs. American
Dec. 26, Shreveport, LA
Northwestern** Syracuse** ACC vs. SEC
St. Petersburg
Dec. 26
Georgia Tech Cincinnati ACC vs. American
Quick Lane
Dec. 26, Detroit, MI
Akron* Michigan State ACC vs. Big Ten
Dec. 24, Honolulu
MTSU Hawaii C-USA vs. MWC
Dollar General
Dec. 23, Mobile, AL
WMU South Alabama MAC 1 vs. Sun Belt 2
Armed Forces
Dec. 23, Fort Worth, TX
Kansas State Navy Big 12 vs. Navy
Dec. 23, Nassau
Tulsa EMU American vs. MAC
Dec. 22, Boise, ID
CMU Air Force MAC 2 vs. MWC
Dec. 21, San Diego
BYU San Diego State BYU vs. MWC
Boca Raton
Dec. 20
Memphis Southern Miss American vs. C-USA
Miami Beach
Dec. 19
UConn Ohio American vs. MAC
Las Vegas
Dec. 17
Wyoming Stanford MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 6
Dec. 17, Montgomery, AL
Toledo Troy MAC 3 vs. Sun Belt 3
Dec. 17, Orlando
Temple UL Lafayette American vs. Sun Belt
New Mexico
Dec. 17, Albuquerque
UCF** New Mexico C-USA vs. MWC
New Orleans
Dec. 17
Appalachian State LA Tech Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA

* = filling another conference's bid
** = bowl-eligible at 5-7 because of
APR scores

Leaving us this week: Notre Dame.

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