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New bowl projections, with 1 conference getting 2 into the Playoff

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

Penn State v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

While we wait for top-10 upsets to really start clarifying college football’s postseason picture, let’s try a weird scenario in the Playoff section of these bowl projections after Week 4.

Each week, I go through and 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 a little weekly fun.

Below, projections for all 40 2018 bowl games. A lot of these will change dramatically over the next 2.5 months, so if you don’t like where your team is listed, I bet a few wins on the field will change things!

The College Football Playoff

  • Cotton (Arlington, TX): No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Penn State
  • Orange (Miami): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State

A scenario to try out:

Say Penn State beats Ohio State in Week 5, with home-field advantage, an extra day of rest, and an injured Nick Bosa. Say PSU, OSU, and Michigan each go 8-1 in the Big Ten, only losing to each other. After a long string of Big Ten tiebreakers, either UM or PSU would likely win the B1G East due to strength of schedule against West opponents. I have PSU by a nose.

So let’s say Penn State wins the Big Ten, Michigan finishes with two losses (including one to Notre Dame already), and Ohio State is — as seemingly always — on the committee bubble, this time without a division title.

Also at the moment, I have two losses each for the Pac-12 champ, the Big 12 champ, Notre Dame, and the SEC East champ. That’d leave a one-loss Ohio State at No. 4, right?

But we’ll try a new scenario next week. Maybe. On to the other bowls!

The rest of the New Year’s Six

  • Sugar (New Orleans): Oklahoma vs. Georgia
  • Rose (Pasadena, CA): Michigan vs. Washington
  • Peach (Atlanta): Miami vs. Notre Dame
  • Fiesta (Glendale, AZ): Boise State vs. Auburn

In this year’s rotation, most of these will be based on conference auto-bids, and then we’ll likely see whether the MWC or AAC champ takes the non-power spot. Due to geography, that’ll likely determine whether the mid-major goes to the Fiesta or Peach.

Sub in UCF for Boise State in your mind, if that would bring you good feelings. I might do the same soon.

Not entirely sold on Auburn or Miami here, since right now, I have a ton of teams floating right around 9-3. But the Canes’ path is looking lighter by the week, and the Tigers’ win over Washington still matters.

Everything else

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

* = Taking another conference’s unfilled bid.

As always, remember bowl bids are not necessarily 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 one thing: 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.

I’m as surprised as you are to see Kentucky way up there in one of the SEC’s best bowls, but I had them at 8-4 even before they stomped out a quality Mississippi State. If it’s between a fired-up UK that’s just beaten Louisville and a couple really good SEC West teams without pretty records (LSU and A&M, probably), I’d guess the Citrus stays within its time zone.

Iowa-Stanford is a rematch of a recent bigger bowl, but I just realized that actually happens somewhat regularly.

Teams I couldn’t find room for this week: FIU, NIU, and Wyoming.