College football’s wildest weekend of 2018 (so far) injects some fun into this weekly exercise, with four top-10 teams losing and a whole bunch of other weirdness.
Each week, I update a board of projected winners for every FBS game, tally up records, and guess what the Playoff committee and bowl committees would do with the results. Things get closer and closer to eventual accuracy as Selection Sunday nears, but more importantly, it’s some weekly fun!
Below, projections for all 40 2018 bowl games. A lot of these will change dramatically over the next two months, so if you don’t like where your team is listed, I bet a few wins on the field will change things!
First, the College Football Playoff
- Cotton (Arlington, TX): No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Michigan
- Orange (Miami): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Notre Dame
- Championship (Santa Clara, CA): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Clemson
The Big 12 and Pac-12 are still out (Week 7 made that more likely, with Washington and West Virginia losing), and there’s only one change in this group this week: I’m going back to Michigan, my preseason pick, to win the Big Ten. This was loudly hooted at the time, but I’m guessing after we’ve all gotten a real good look at Ohio State’s defense, that’ll be slightly less hilarious this time. Slightly. (I also realize this counts as Michigan State DISRESPECT.)
Bama’s a behemoth, Clemson has almost no legit competition left, and Notre Dame just survived Pitt, the bane of good teams everywhere.
Next: the rest of the New Year’s Six
- Sugar (New Orleans): Oklahoma vs. Georgia
- Rose (Pasadena, CA): Ohio State vs. Washington
- Peach (Atlanta): LSU vs. Texas
- Fiesta (Glendale, AZ): UCF vs. Iowa
I tried to tell you we’re getting weird.
In a year as parity-heavy as this one (we’re unusually light on undefeated teams, and a few national contenders are hogging all the Ws), any team with a good shot at nine or 10 wins has to be considered an NY6 contender. And, well, LSU and Texas obviously do. I’m as surprised as you are to see Iowa here, but look at their schedule. From here on out, 9-3 would be a slight disappointment, while 10-2 is certainly doable.
The Group of 5 race gained some intrigue this week, but UCF won one of its two or three toughest games all year in a trip to Memphis, so king stay the king.
Also sticking with UW as the Pac-12 champ, but mostly as a placeholder. I think the Huskies are a lot better than they’ve looked the last two weeks on the road, but they might not be. Might swap this to the Oregon-Washington State winner next week. Might move USC up there soon! We’ll see.
And now, everything else
- Citrus (Orlando): Penn State vs. Florida
- Outback (Tampa): Michigan State vs. Kentucky
- Gator (Jacksonville): Minnesota vs. Texas A&M
- Holiday (San Diego): Wisconsin vs. Utah
- Liberty (Memphis): Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee
- Military (Annapolis, MD): Cincinnati vs. Boston College
- Sun (El Paso): Miami vs. Colorado
- Belk (Charlotte): Virginia vs. Auburn
- Alamo (San Antonio): Texas Tech vs. Oregon
- Arizona (Tucson): San Diego State vs. ULM
- Camping World (Orlando): NC State vs. West Virginia
- Music City (Nashville): Virginia Tech vs. Mississippi State
- Texas (Houston): TCU vs. Missouri
- Pinstripe (New York City): Syracuse vs. Indiana
- Independence (Shreveport, LA): Army* vs. BYU*
- Cheez-It (Phoenix): Iowa State vs. Stanford
- Quick Lane (Detroit): MTSU* vs. WMU*
- SERVPRO (Dallas): Arizona State vs. North Texas
- Redbox (Santa Clara, CA): Northwestern vs. USC
- Hawaii: Southern Miss vs. Hawaii
- Dollar General (Mobile): Buffalo vs. Arkansas State
- Armed Forces (Fort Worth): Memphis vs. Baylor
- Birmingham: Houston vs. Air Force*
- Potato (Boise): Toledo vs. Boise State
- Bahamas: FAU vs. NIU
- Gasparilla (Tampa): USF vs. Duke
- Frisco (TX): Tulane vs. Ohio
- Boca Raton: Temple vs. UAB
- New Orleans: Louisiana Tech vs. Troy
- Camellia (Montgomery, AL): EMU vs. Appalachian State
- Las Vegas: Fresno State vs. Washington State
- Cure (Orlando): FIU* vs. Georgia Southern
- New Mexico (Albuquerque): Marshall vs. Utah State
* = Taking another conference’s unfilled bid.
Things are messier than ever. I had to dip into the 5-7 APR ranks for Air Force and Northwestern this time, and rando teams are filling unused bids all over.
As always, remember bowl bids are not strictly based on merit. A few conferences have rules that prevent bowls from taking teams with clearly lesser records over more deserving teams, but bowls mostly care about butts in seats. If you beat a bigger program that’s closer to a bowl both of you want, you’re not guaranteed to get it.