The SEC Championship Game is finished, the ACC and Big Ten title games are on deck and Selection Sunday is oh-so-near for college football fans.
The winners of the 2017 College Football Playoff race have almost been determined. But with some action remaining, we’ve whipped up a last-minute look at the postseason picture with these late Saturday bowl projections, taking into account early conference championship results and a few reports that have been thrown out on social media throughout the day.
Here’s a look at how bowl selections might shake out this year. Reminder: This should all should be taken with a grain of salt.
|Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1, New Orleans) — CFP||#1 Clemson||#4 Wisconsin||Top 4, Playoff rankings|
|Rose Bowl (Jan. 1, Pasadena) — CFP||#2 Oklahoma||#3 Georgia||Top 4, Playoff rankings|
|Peach Bowl (Jan. 1, Atlanta) — NY6||Penn State||UCF||At-large vs. at-large|
|Orange Bowl (Dec. 30, Miami) — NY6||Alabama||Miami||SEC/Big Ten/ND vs. ACC #1|
|Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 30, Glendale) — NY6||Ohio State||USC||At-large vs. at-large|
|Cotton Bowl (Dec. 29, Arlington) — NY6||Auburn||Washington||At-large vs. at-large|
|Wild Wings Bowl (Jan. 1, Orlando)||LSU||Michigan State||SEC #2 vs. ACC/Big Ten|
|Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, Tampa)||Misssissippi State||Michigan||SEC #3-8 vs. Big Ten #3-4|
|TaxSlayer Bowl (Dec. 30, Jacksonville)||Texas A&M||NC State||SEC #3-8 vs. ACC/Big Ten|
|Liberty Bowl (Dec. 30, Memphis)||Memphis**||West Virginia||SEC #3-8 vs. Big 12 #4|
|Music City Bowl (Dec. 29, Nashville)||Kentucky||Purdue||SEC #3-8 vs. ACC/Big Ten|
|Belk Bowl (Dec. 29, Charlotte)||South Carolina||Wake Forest||SEC #3-8 vs. ACC #4-7|
|Sun Bowl (Dec. 29, El Paso)||Louisville||Arizona||ACC #4-7 vs. Pac-12 #5|
|Arizona Bowl (Dec. 29, Tucson)||Colorado State||New Mexico St||MWC vs. Sun Belt #5|
|Alamo Bowl (Dec. 28, San Antonio)||TCU||Stanford||Big 12 #2 vs. Pac-12 #2|
|Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28, San Diego)||Iowa||Washington St||Big Ten #3-4 vs. Pac-12 #3|
|Camping World Bowl (Dec. 28, Orlando)||Notre Dame||Oklahoma State||ACC #3 vs. Big 12 #3|
|Military Bowl (Dec. 28, Annapolis)||Virginia||Navy||ACC #8-10 vs. American|
|Texas Bowl (Dec. 27, Houston)||Missouri||Texas||SEC #3-8 vs. Big 12 #4|
|Foster Farms Bowl (Dec. 27, Santa Clara)||San Diego State||Arizona State||Big Ten #5-7 vs. Pac-12 #4|
|Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 27, New York)||Virginia Tech||Northwestern||ACC #4-7 vs. Big Ten #5-7|
|Independence Bowl (Dec. 27, Shreveport)||Louisiana Tech**||Florida State||SEC #10 vs. ACC #8-10|
|Cactus Bowl (Dec. 26, Tempe)||Iowa State||UCLA||Big 12 #5 vs. Pac-12 #7|
|Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 26, Detroit)||Akron**||Duke||Big Ten #8-9 vs. ACC #8-10|
|Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dec. 26, Dallas)||Kansas State||Utah**||Big 12 #6 vs. Big Ten #8-9|
|Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 24, Honolulu)||Marshall**||Fresno State||American vs. MWC|
|Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 23, Fort Worth)||Texas Tech**||Army*||Big Ten #8-9 vs. Army|
|Birmingham Bowl (Dec. 23, Birmingham)||Boston College**||W. Kentucky**||SEC #9 vs. American|
|Dollar General Bowl (Dec. 23, Mobile)||Toledo||Arkansas State||MAC #1 vs. Sun Belt #2|
|Bahamas Bowl (Dec. 22, Nassau)||UAB*||Ohio*||C-USA vs. MAC|
|Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 22, Boise)||W. Michigan||Wyoming||MAC vs. MWC|
|Gasparilla Bowl (Dec. 21, St. Petersburg)||SMU||FIU||American vs. C-USA|
|Frisco Bowl (Dec. 20, Dallas)||Houston||Northern Illinois||American vs. C-USA/MAC/SB|
|Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 19, Boca Raton)||USF||FAU||American vs. C-USA|
|Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 16, Las Vegas)||Oregon||Boise State||Pac-12 #6 vs. MWC #1|
|Cure Bowl (Dec. 16, Orlando)||Temple||App State||American vs. Sun Belt #4|
|New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 16, New Orleans)||Southern Miss||Troy||C-USA vs. Sun Belt #1|
|New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 16, Albuquerque)||North Texas||Utah State||C-USA vs. MWC|
|Camellia Bowl (Dec. 16, Montgomery)||Central Michigan||Georgia State||MAC vs. Sun Belt #3|
*Denotes a team that has formally accepted its bowl bid.
**Denotes replacement team. Bowl-eligible schools without an available slot: Middle Tennessee, Buffalo, UTSA.
College Football Playoff scenarios: Where the contenders stand right now
The postseason picture has nearly crystallized. Here’s what we know entering Selection Sunday:
- Oklahoma is in, following a resounding 41-17 smackdown of TCU in the Big 12 championship game.
- Georgia is in, following a 28-7 win against Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.
- The winner of the ACC championship game, Clemson or Miami, is a lock to finish inside the top 4.
The only remaining questions revolve around the No. 4 spot, which we can reasonably expect to involve one of three teams: Wisconsin, Ohio State or Alabama.
- How Wisconsin gets in: Beat Ohio State, duh. That sounds simple enough, but the 2-loss Buckeyes have tons of talent and the Badgers only have one win against current top-25 teams (Northwestern).
- How Alabama gets in: Ohio State beats Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, and the selection committee prefers the 11-1 Crimson Tide’s resume over either Big Ten divisional champ.
- How Ohio State gets in: Beat Wisconsin convincingly and hope the selection committee values its conference championship over a 1-loss Alabama.
And here’s how Ohio State and Alabama stack up against each other:
- Alabama has 6 wins over bowl-eligible teams (as well as 6-6 Ole Miss) and 2 wins over current top-25 teams if Fresno State falls out of the Top 25; the Bulldogs lost to Boise State on Saturday night. The Tide’s only loss is at 10-3 Auburn.
- Ohio State would have 6 wins over bowl-eligible teams and 3 wins over current top-25 teams with a win over Wisconsin. The Buckeyes also have 2 double-digit losses: One against playoff-bound Oklahoma, and one against unranked Iowa.
Worth noting: Auburn should finish ranked inside the top 15 regardless of the loss Saturday, but if we’re considering the eye test, the Tigers’ 21-point loss to Georgia might hurt Alabama. Also consider the committee’s well-publicized preference for conference champions and it’s not hard to envision Ohio State making the Playoff.
It’ll be a close, controversial decision, but only if Wisconsin loses. The Badgers could very well upset Ohio State and make the committee’s decision infinitely easier.
Breaking down the other New Year’s Six bowl games
Orange Bowl: Clemson or Miami vs. Alabama or Ohio State
The only one of these games with conference tie-ins, it’ll feature the highest-ranked ACC and SEC/Big Ten teams that don’t make the Playoff. Right now, that figures to be Miami and either Alabama or Ohio State.
Peach Bowl: UCF is likely
Auburn makes sense from a location and convenience standpoint, but both teams will have just played a game in shiny new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It’s possible that Penn State or Ohio State are in play here. UCF is almost certainly the other half of the equation following the Knight’s thrilling double-overtime win in the AAC championship game.
Fiesta Bowl: USC an obvious choice
By winning the Pac-12 on Friday night, the Trojans are guaranteed a New Year’s Six bid. Glendale, Ariz. makes the most sense here. Their opponent will have to be an SEC or Big Ten team that the committee wants to send out west, because it seems unlikely TCU will earn the nod after getting torched by Oklahoma. Ohio State and Auburn would seemingly be in play; we rolled with the Buckeyes because it’s a super-appealing matchup.
Cotton Bowl: Will Washington squeak in?
The 2-loss Huskies didn’t make the Pac-12 title game, but they entered this weekend ranked No. 13. The teams directly ahead of them, TCU and Stanford, both lost. We’re thinking that means Chris Petersen’s squad is headed to Jerry World. Whichever Big Ten/SEC team doesn’t go to the Fiesta Bowl will head here, too, and Auburn could do worse than the Cotton Bowl.
A quick look at the remaining 2017 bowl games
- LSU did play in the Citrus (sorry, Wild Wings) Bowl last year, but the Tigers are an obvious pick here with their strong resume and widespread fan base. South Carolina and Mississippi State are the other options. Michigan State seems like a pretty safe bet to represent the Big Ten
- Notre Dame is eligible for bowls with ACC tie-ins. At 3 losses, the Irish are unlikely to receive a New Year’s Six bowl invite, but the Camping World Bowl would be a decent consolation prize.
- The same goes for TCU, which could draw an appealing matchup with Stanford in San Antonio.
- Memphis staying in its home city? Yep, that could happen. The SEC will have three open bowl slots this year, and the Liberty Bowl makes plenty of sense for a team that deserves to face Power-5 competition.
- Louisville vs. Arizona in the Sun Bowl? Yes, please, say fans of good offensive football.
- UAB, Ohio and Army have all officially accepted the above bowl bids.
- There are a surplus of bowl-eligible teams this year, meaning there won’t be enough available spots to accommodate three such teams. Six-win UTSA and Middle Tennessee are solid guesses, given the large number of Conference-USA bowl teams.