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New bowl projections for a college football season in need of madness at the top

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

Florida State v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

This college football season has had a whole lot of weirdness, but very little at the top. Alabama and Clemson have separated themselves from the pack, Michigan might be doing the same, and undefeated Notre Dame has beaten Michigan.

Under that, it’s a swirling vortex, but it’d be nice if the two worlds actually touched.

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

So yeah. Chalk. This would mean picking the Playoff rankings to remain exactly the same for about a month straight. That’s not exactly likely, but each individual way this could all go awry.

I suppose Georgia could beat Bama, giving us instant drama as to which of these five misses the cut. Maybe Notre Dame could lose to Syracuse, which would probably add FRESH NEW NAME ... Oklahoma. Michigan could certainly lose to Ohio State, which should give us a WILD AND WACKY Playoff final four that includes FUN UPSTART ... Ohio State.

Maybe multiple of these things happen as Washington State wins out, and then we actually get something weird.

Buuuuut it sure looks like a season in which the ruling class towers over a lot of chaos and carnage.

(Also, I’m giving up on my resoundingly booed idea that Michigan could jump Notre Dame on Selection Sunday. Mediocre Northwestern being all Michigan could show for its 12th win would seem to moot all that.)

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. West Virginia

The Sugar and Rose have held steady for a month or more (some day, the Rose Bowl social media accounts will include my projections in their roundups, I just know it), while Kentucky’s fall from the NY6 opens up a spot for, uh, Florida, I guess? Syracuse? Mississippi State? Kentucky itself, which beat Florida? Texas? This is a deeply bizarre, messy season, and it’s kind of a shame the Playoff might not reflect that at all.

And now, everything else

  • Citrus (Orlando): Penn State vs. Kentucky
  • Outback (Tampa): Michigan State vs. Missouri
  • Gator (Jacksonville): Northwestern vs. South Carolina
  • Holiday (San Diego): Iowa vs. Washington
  • Liberty (Memphis): Baylor vs. Auburn
  • Military (Annapolis, MD): Cincinnati vs. Georgia Tech
  • Sun (El Paso): Virginia vs. Oregon
  • Belk (Charlotte): NC State vs. Tennessee
  • Alamo (San Antonio): Texas vs. Utah
  • Arizona (Tucson): San Diego State vs. ULM
  • Camping World (Orlando): Syracuse vs. Texas Tech
  • Music City (Nashville): Boston College vs. Texas A&M
  • Texas (Houston): Iowa State vs. Mississippi State
  • Pinstripe (New York City): Pitt vs. Purdue
  • Independence (Shreveport, LA): Duke vs. Stanford*
  • Cheez-It (Phoenix): Oklahoma State vs. Cal
  • Quick Lane (Detroit): BYU* vs. WMU*
  • SERVPRO (Dallas): Minnesota vs. North Texas
  • Redbox (Santa Clara, CA): Wisconsin vs. Arizona State
  • Hawaii: FAU vs. Hawaii
  • Dollar General (Mobile): Buffalo vs. Georgia Southern
  • Armed Forces (Fort Worth): SMU vs. Army*
  • Birmingham: Houston vs. UAB
  • Potato (Boise): Toledo vs. Boise State
  • Bahamas: FIU vs. NIU
  • Gasparilla (Tampa): USF vs. Wake Forest
  • Frisco (TX): Tulane vs. Ohio
  • Boca Raton: Temple vs. MTSU
  • New Orleans: Louisiana Tech vs. Troy
  • Camellia (Montgomery, AL): EMU vs. Appalachian State
  • Las Vegas: Fresno State vs. USC
  • Cure (Orlando): Memphis vs. Arkansas State
  • New Mexico (Albuquerque): Marshall vs. Utah State

* = Taking another conference’s unfilled bid.

One thing: because of all the rampant mediocrity this year, I do not have enough spots here for all the likely bowl-eligible teams. I don’t have room for Nevada and UL Lafayette, I’m being hard on Miami to free up space, and I’m assuming Virginia Tech doesn’t schedule an emergency eligibility-saving game (though VT will surely want to protect the country’s second-longest bowl streak).

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.