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Updated bowl projections after the Playoff committee’s first 2018 top 25

Here are picks for all 40 bowl games, including the College Football Playoff.

Navy v Notre Dame Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images

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 month, 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. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Notre Dame
  • Orange (Miami): No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Michigan
  • Championship (Santa Clara, CA): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Clemson

Holding steady for the third week in a row!

Alabama and Clemson look somewhat likely to cruise all the way from Tuesday through December as the CFP top two, as difficult as that is even for elites. (I’m openly trying to jinx our way into a visit from Lord Chaos.) Notre Dame has little excuse to miss the Playoff at this point. And right now, your best bet for the other spot is either Oklahoma or the Michigan-Ohio State winner.

This brings us back to a familiar question: why predict Michigan will rank ahead of Notre Dame in December, considering the Irish won in September?

Well, the committee doesn’t use head to head as the only deciding factor between two teams. It lists it as one of several criteria it uses if it thinks teams are otherwise equal. The committee could decide Michigan’s just straight up better on the year than Notre Dame. It could also include the other criteria: strength of schedule, conference titles, and common opponents. The overall edge from that group would go to Michigan as well.

It’s just a considered guess, though.

Next: the rest of the New Year’s Six

  • Sugar (New Orleans): Oklahoma vs. Georgia
  • Rose (Pasadena, CA): Ohio State vs. Washington State
  • Peach (Atlanta): Florida vs. UCF
  • Fiesta (Glendale, AZ): LSU vs. Penn State

The only change here this week before the rankings: Penn State takes Iowa’s spot. I had that game down as basically a NY6 play-in. A 9-3 Penn State would be a bubble team for sure, but how many 10-2 teams do you see out here? West Virginia maybe. Utah maybe.

Hadn’t really expected to stick with Wazzu in the Rose for more than a week, but let it ride!

UCF’s NY6 chances hold steady, but Houston in the AAC title game is looking more and more threatening.

I’d considered Kentucky in this group, but figured Florida would wind up ahead at the end. The Gators are a spot lower than I’d expected in the first CFP rankings, but still within easy striking range, assuming UK loses to Georgia.

And now, everything else

  • Citrus (Orlando): Iowa vs. Kentucky
  • Outback (Tampa): Michigan State vs. Texas A&M
  • Gator (Jacksonville): Purdue vs. Tennessee
  • Holiday (San Diego): Wisconsin vs. Washington
  • Liberty (Memphis): Oklahoma State vs. Memphis*
  • Military (Annapolis, MD): Cincinnati vs. Georgia Tech
  • Sun (El Paso): Miami vs. Colorado
  • Belk (Charlotte): Virginia vs. Auburn
  • Alamo (San Antonio): Texas vs. Utah
  • Arizona (Tucson): San Diego State vs. UL Lafayette
  • Camping World (Orlando): NC State vs. West Virginia
  • Music City (Nashville): Boston College vs. Mississippi State
  • Texas (Houston): Texas Tech vs. Missouri
  • Pinstripe (New York City): Syracuse vs. Minnesota
  • Independence (Shreveport, LA): Duke vs. MTSU*
  • Cheez-It (Phoenix): Iowa State vs. Arizona State
  • Quick Lane (Detroit): Wake Forest vs. WMU*
  • SERVPRO (Dallas): Cal vs. North Texas
  • Redbox (Santa Clara, CA): Northwestern vs. Oregon
  • Hawaii: Stanford* vs. Hawaii
  • Dollar General (Mobile): Akron vs. Georgia Southern
  • Armed Forces (Fort Worth): Army* vs. Baylor
  • Birmingham: Houston vs. Buffalo*
  • Potato (Boise): Toledo vs. Boise State
  • Bahamas: NIU vs. ... uhh, I ran out of teams. A 5-7 Air Force, via NCAA APR stuff? Sure.
  • Gasparilla (Tampa): USF vs. Virginia Tech
  • Frisco (TX): Nevada* 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. USC
  • Cure (Orlando): FIU* vs. Arkansas State
  • New Mexico (Albuquerque): Marshall vs. Utah State

* = Taking another conference’s unfilled bid. I’m getting a little creative with a couple of those for now — for example, Buffalo way up in the Birmingham Bowl. Since so many non-power games are owned by ESPN, it’s feasible for the network to play matchmaker across usual conference ties on Selection Sunday. Since the MAC champ usually wins up in Alabama anyway, why not upgrade that game?

Yes, South Carolina fans, I saw you beat Tennessee. Your remaining schedule is harder than theirs. Could the Gamecocks reschedule a game the day before Selection Sunday, just to get to six, though? Could! Or they could pull a road upset.

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.