College Football Bowl Projections and Why

By TheBearSanders
Dec. 04, 2016

There are all kinds of bowl projections out there, but they do not really look at what are factors that make up a bowl game. Many bowl games do not take a team 2 years in a row, but the "experts" use their formulas and put out inaccurate projections. I decided it was my turn to have a say and made my own bowl projections, and logical reasoning for why it makes sense for these picks.

Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl

North Carolina Central vs Grambling State

Why: MEAC Champ vs SWAC Champ

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

New Mexico vs UTSA

Why: MWC (New Mexico) no travel vs Conference USA (UTSA) Short Travel

Las Vegas Bowl

Appalachian St. vs San Diego St.

Why: Appalachian St is a bowl eligible fill in (Pac 12) that is most likely to play a close game from their Conference while traveling cross country to play a MWC (San Diego St.) that has been ranked this year

Raycom Camellia Bowl

Arkansas St. vs Miami (Ohio)

Why: Low level Sun Belt (Arkansas St.) team, needed 6 conference wins to be bowl eligible, goes up against a MAC opponent (Miami) that needed to do the same so why not give 1 a win out of conference

Auto Nation Cure Bowl

South Alabama vs UCF

Why: Low level bowl game that needs teams from Sun Belt (USA) and American (UCF), so these 6-6 scrapers fit the bill along with their close proximity to Orlando would make this easy

R&L Carriers Bowl

Southern Miss vs UL Lafayette

Why: A C-USA (USM) and Sun Belt (ULL) tie in will most likely take 2 teams near 100 miles from the Superdome, to at the very least, draw a significant attendance

Miami Beach Bowl

Tulsa vs Toledo

Why: Both posted strong 9-3 Records in these two tie in Conferences, American (Tulsa) and MAC (Toledo), to earn a few days vacation in Miami

Marmot Boca Raton Bowl

Western Kentucky vs Memphis

Why: C-USA Champ (WKU) gets to pick from a list of tie ins they want to play in, and since they have been to the Bahamas and Miami the last 2 years, Boca Raton is the next best choice. As for Memphis, they were pushed down the American Conference ladder to this one, but getting a shot at another Conferences Champion in Boca Raton isn’t bad for a first year coach.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

BYU vs Wyoming

Why: BYU was tied in to this one and they better use this time to practice before getting LSU in their

Opener. MWC tie in Wyoming is the easy choice while Boise and SDSU play elsewhere.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Colorado St. vs Central Michigan

Why: These MWC (CSU) and MAC (CMU) ties squeaked in to bowl season, so let them duke it out.

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

Old Dominion vs Eastern Michigan

Why: The Bowl wanted them and why would they turn down the Bahamas

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Navy vs North Texas

Why: Navy is tied in and the Big 12 didn’t have enough to fill this spot, so 5-7 North Texas can thank their academics and APR to get them to bowl season

Dollar General Bowl

Ohio vs Troy

Why: These Sun Belt (Troy) and MAC (Ohio) Tie ins fit to match two runner-up teams who had solid seasons.

Hawai’i Bowl

Hawaii vs Middle Tennessee State

Why: Hawaii obviously fits the MWC bid and C-USA (MTSU) could have sent anyone, but best send an 8-4 team to try to sure up a win for the conference

St Petersburg Bowl

Houston vs Army

Why: Army fills in as the Independent replacement for Notre Dame since the ACC won’t fill the spot either. Houston has given up for the year, so their American tie in places them here.

Quick Lane Bowl

Boston College vs Maryland

Why: This is the last bowl each conference ACC (BC) and Big Ten (Maryland) had to fill, so let the 6-6 teams battle for a winning season

Camping World Independence

Vanderbilt vs Wake Forest

Why: Like the Quick Lane Bowl the ACC (WF) and SEC (Vandy) have to put someone in this game and might as well put these 6-6 teams together

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl

Louisiana Tech vs Mississippi State

Why: C-USA (La Tech) needed to send a team to play the Big Ten, so the conference runner-up who just needs a few hours down I-20 to get there is the easy choice. The Big Ten couldn’t fill the spot so enter the other 5-7 team (MSU) to fill the role, who also happens to be a Power 5 team.

Northrop Grumman Military Bowl

NC State vs Temple

Why: The ACC (NC State) had another 6-6 team to use, so put up the team that should have beat Clemson, to try to steal one from the American Champion (Temple), who won’t have to travel far to fill this tie in.

Motel 6 Cactus Bowl

Baylor vs Boise State

Why: Last Spot the Big 12 (Baylor) could fill with a 6-6 team that wants to play in the postseason before some anticipated sanctions. The Pac 12 couldn’t fill this spot so the next best team out west is the appropriate replacement.

National Funding Holiday Bowl

Iowa vs Washington State

Why: With the Big Ten potentially sending so many teams to better bowl games, the next best team they have to offer (Iowa) gets the nod. The Pac 12 next team up (Washington St) gets to show off their Air Raid in a game that never seems to be short of an offensive field day.

New Era Pinstripe

North Carolina vs Minnesota

Why: The ACC (UNC) needs a Tier One team to take over Yankee Stadium, and who better than a team with a Quarterback that the experts believe will be a Top-10 pick. The Big Ten has to fill it with a winning team, so an 8-4 team (Minn.) will have to do while the others take over the New Year’s Six

Russell Athletic Bowl

Virginia Tech vs West Virginia

Why: The Big 12 sends their #3 team here and West Virginia fits the bill. The ACC sends someone to be competitive and a team that made the Conference Championship (Virginia Tech) should cover it.

Foster Farms Bowl

Stanford vs Northwestern

Why: The Big 10 (NW) sends a tier 2 team and their other slots are full so a 6-6 team who hung in there with Top-10 schools will do. The Pac 12 (Stanford) usually sends their #5 slot to this spot so the 9-3 Cardinal cover it. This is a Top 25 game of sorts, APR Top-25, but they are STUDENT-athletes

AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl

Texas A&M vs Kansas State

Why: The SEC (A&M) has to pick a team from their “Group of Six” to play here and the obvious selection would be the team 2 hours away. The Big 12 (KSU) sends their #4 team so the 8-4 Wildcats fill it.

Birmingham Bowl

South Carolina vs South Florida

Why: The SEC (USC) sends the first team after the “Group of 6”, so the 6-6 Gamecocks should take it with a H2H win over Vandy. The American (USF) has to pick someone to take on the SEC, so the 10-2 Bulls give them a chance.

Belk Bowl

Kentucky vs Georgia Tech

Why: Another “Group of Six” from the SEC (UK) needs a home, and the Wildcats being the closest team not to go there recently, won’t have to go extremely far to go bowling. Don’t count out Arkansas, it is more about than who will have less people in Jacksonville rather than who brings more to Charlotte. The ACC (GT) needs to send an 8-4 team, so the Yellow Jackets make the most sense.

Alamo Bowl

Colorado vs Oklahoma State

Why: These 2 came up short in the Big 12 (OKST) and Pac 12 (Colorado) by losing to the eventual champions the last week of the year. Colorado has to wait out the rankings and should fall to this spot as the #3 Pac 12, if USC jumps them in the final CFP ranking because of the H2H. The Big 12 #2 usually fills this spot and having the H2H win over WVU lines them up for it.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Georgia vs TCU

Why: The Bulldogs haven’t been here in a while, and the rest of the SEC “Group of 6” have the other games locked down. The Big 12 (TCU) sends #5 here so the 6-6 Horned Frogs get a trip to Memphis.

Hyundai Sun Bowl

Utah vs Pittsburgh

Why: The ACC (Pitt) again has to pick from its 8-4 squad, and the team that beat Clemson and Penn St. is probably who you want to send cross country. The Pac 12 (Utah) sends its #6 team and that’s exactly where you’ll find the Utes.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Tennessee vs Indiana

Why: SEC (Tennessee) “Group of 6” again and the Vols are less than 200 miles away. The Big Ten (IU) has to send someone and the Hoosiers at 6-6 will cover it.

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Air Force vs Idaho

Why: The Sun Belt (Idaho) has to send someone out West and the Vandals are already out there. The Mountain West (AF) has to fill this spot and the 9-3 Falcons will do the trick.

Capital One Orange Bowl

Michigan vs Louisville* (Florida State)

Why: The Wolverines are going to be one of the first teams out of the CFP, but this at-large bid will be a good consolation. The ACC sends their highest ranked team not in the Playoff, so unless the committee puts a team(s) between Louisville and Florida State in the Final Rankings, they will have to explain why the H2H they preach doesn’t apply to the 63-20 thrashing the Cardinals put on the Seminoles.

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl

LSU vs Florida State* (Louisville)

Why: The Citrus Bowl gets to pick both of these teams after the New Years Six are decided. The ACC Selection will be whoever doesn’t make the Orange Bowl, so it is up to the committee on this one. The SEC (LSU) has three options for the Citrus Bowl to choose from: LSU, Florida, and Tennessee. Tennessee is not the team everyone thought they would be so this should be an easy pass for them. Florida was destroyed by Michigan a year ago in this game and Alabama in the SEC Championship, so a potential meeting with Lamar Jackson or FSU (who they’ve already lost to) doesn’t seem attractive to the Bowl. LSU seems like a clear choice, especially if Florida State will be their opponent with the JImbo story is a huge media grab. The Tigers haven’t been shown love by the committee’s rankings but they are fun to watch.

TaxSlayer Bowl

Arkansas vs Miami

Why: The SEC (Ark.) has to pick a “Group of 6” and since Georgia was there a year ago, there is no obvious choice here. Kentucky could switch Arkansas, it’s up to the SEC office at this point. The ACC (Miami) again picks from the 8-4, so the team from the state makes the most sense. There could be a switch with Georgia Tech, but the like the SEC, it’s up to the powers that be.

Outback Bowl

Florida vs Nebraska

Why: The last SEC (UF) “Group of 6” bowl slot seems to match with Gators close proximity to the Tampa, along with it being further from every other SEC school compared to Jacksonville. The Big Ten (Nebraska) sends a top tier team to this game, and after dabbing in the Top-10 this year, the Huskers fit.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl

Penn State* (Wisconsin) vs Western Michigan

Why: The Nittany Lions are still sought after by the committee for an at-large, so they needed a bowl no other Big Ten team was in, and here they are. Western Michigan put together a 13-0 season to earn a New Year Bowl Game. PSU could flip with Wisconsin

Rose Bowl by Northwestern Mutual

USC vs Wisconsin

Why: This is the Big Ten (Wisconsin) and Pac 12 (USC) conference champs or highest ranked teams showcase. The Badgers are favored to win the Big Ten and The Trojans should be the highest ranked team with a H2H win over Colorado. A Badger loss will just flip them and Penn State.

AllState Sugar Bowl

Auburn vs Oklahoma

Why: The SEC (Auburn) sends their highest ranked team and with the Tigers idle a spot ahead of the Gators, added with a Florida loss, they are headed to the Big Easy. The Big 12 (Oklahoma) sends their conference champ and the Sooners were able to do so.


Peach Bowl

Alabama vs Washington

Fiesta Bowl

Ohio St. vs Clemson

Why: Top 4