Freshly updated bowl projections, now with more Notre Dame Playoff debate!

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

September’s wrapped, and college football’s now halfway to the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season. So these weekly bowl projections are still flying somewhat blind, but I think we know which teams are around the top of the board, right?

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

We were close to some big changes in Week 5. Kind of.

Last week in this space, I picked Penn State and Ohio State to make the Playoff, via the Nittany Lions beating the Buckeyes, which nearly happened. But: back to normal on the Big Ten front.

Elsewhere, Clemson almost lost to Syracuse amid maybe the most awkward QB situation possible, but two things there:

  1. The committee likely would’ve given Clemson some sort of mulligan for losing with a guy who’d been a third-string QB days prior (the committee cited Clemson’s QB injury as a mitigating factor in a loss to Cuse last year).
  2. Now that Clemson’s won, will anything change? If Trevor Lawrence misses a game, it’ll be Wake Forest, a team Clemson is capable of handling without him. The bye week’s after that. If he’s cleared to return, then the hardest game regular season game is ... a trip to Boston College? NC State? South Carolina?

Clemson’s fine.

So let’s talk about the exciting one! Notre Dame! Join a conference, nerds!

They haven’t. They don’t ever have to. Bama made the Playoff without a division title last year. If the Irish are unbeaten, they’re in. If they have one loss, they’re candidates. Well, they just won quite possibly their hardest remaining game by 21 points. (They’re gonna lose to Pitt, but we’ll cross that bridge — Pittsburgh term — later.)

Next: the rest of the New Year’s Six

REMATCH MANIA!

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 G5 team goes to the Fiesta or Peach.

Sub in UCF for Boise State in your mind, if that would bring you good feelings. I have the Broncos in here for a simple reason: their remaining schedule looks easier.

Far from sold on Auburn, of course. I have a bunch of teams floating right around 9-3, but remember Auburn’s win over Washington. It’s still worth a lot of Committee Bucks, and the committee’s the entity that sets up NY6 games.

And now, everything else

* = Taking another conference’s unfilled bid.

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.

Also as always, I apologize for the Pac-12’s strict bowl order. Getting deserving Pac-12 teams into games they might like is one of the hardest things to work with, along with finding matchups we haven’t seen recently in the many Big Ten-SEC games (though that one’s going fine so far this year).

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

Comments

RE Big 12 Reunions in bowls:

They don’t have any issue doing that with Mizzou. Two of our three bowl opponents since joining the SEC have been Big 12 teams.

That’s only because Kansas hasn’t made a bowl.

FCS teams aren't even eligible, to be fair.

A&M has played 3 B12 teams in bowls: Oklahoma their first year in the SEC, WVU, KSU.

B12 reunions are fine, other than one specifically. It’ll have to be a playoff for it to happen, which ain’t.

Texas vs A&M in the Heart of Dallas Bowl

They worked to dodge Texas Tech in 2015

So, at least two teams, specifically. But probably any Texas-based team.

"Big 12 reunions won’t happen. Let me have my fun."

Since joining the SEC, A&M has played Oklahoma and Kansas State in bowls. We also played West Virginia, although that obviously wasn’t a "reunion."

Now, we’re probably not going to be playing the Longhorns in a minor bowl. Don’t know about the other Texas schools.

Fair points! I took that note out

Fresno State v. Coastal Carolina would be cool

CCU’s QB is a Fresno State transfer, Kilton Anderson

F*ck you mean we gonna lose to Pitt

As long as we aren’t ranked No.2 we good

LSU and even Kentucky should be ahead of Auburn in the NY6 discussion.

That win against Washington won’t matter when they finish 7-5 (which looks incredibly feasible considering the putrid offense). If LSU finishes 9-3 (I can only see them losing to UGA and Bama tbh, and I think there’s great upset potential in one, if not both of those games) and so does Auburn (theoretically), I think LSU’s head-to-head win should matter more than a Week 1 neutral site OOC win.

I'd call the UCF and Boise schedule a wash

Boise has SDST, BYU (beat Wisco) and Fresno. All tough teams
UCF has Cincy and South Florida back to back!

My problem with both teams SOS:
Cincy and South Florida is 4-0, but look who they played. UCLA and Illinois are the two big wins split between the two of them and they both suck this year.
Boise on the other hand had one big game and their special teams allowed two blocked punts for TDs.

I’m not sure Boise has an easier time and they already have a loss on their schedule. Time will tell though.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a random G5 make it this year.

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