Today is the day the bowls will be finalized. Which school will be playing in which bowl? To try and project that, we must first figure out the playoff picture, and yesterday proved that will be extremely difficult. Did Ohio State crack the playoff field last night with a 59-0 victory over Wisconsin, or will the top four hold firm? Nobody really knows, but for now let’s go with this projection that will surely upset Big 12 fans.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama (SEC champion) vs. Florida State (ACC champion)
Rose Bowl: Oregon (Pac-12 champion) vs. Ohio State (Big Ten champion)
The Automatic Entrants
Baylor (Big 12 co-champion), Boise State (highest-ranked Group of Five champion), Georgia Tech (ACC representative), Michigan State (highest ranked non-champion from Big Ten and SEC)
The ACC is contracted to fill one spot in the Orange Bowl. It would be very likely that team will be Georgia Tech. The Orange Bowl will take the next highest-ranked ACC team if the conference champion is in the playoff. With Florida State winning the ACC title and expected to be placed in the four-team playoff, that should send Georgia Tech to the Orange Bowl. The Yellow Jackets are ranked ahead of the ACC’s Clemson and Louisville in the latest playoff rankings.
The Orange Bowl also gets the highest-ranked team available from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. The Irish are way out of this conversation, and the Big Ten is in prime position to send Michigan State to the bowl as the highest-ranked option from the Big Ten and SEC.
This year the new bowl format guarantees one spot in the non-playoff bowls to the highest-ranked champion from the Group of Five conferences — the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference. Boise State was the only team from those conferences ranked by the selection committee in last week’s ranking, and a home win against Fresno State likely locks the Broncos into making that reservation in one of the access bowls.
The At-Large Pool
Baylor (Big 12 co-champion), TCU (Big 12 co-champion), Arizona, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Kansas State
Throw both Big 12 co-champs in the leftover pool. Wisconsin being blown away will drop them out of the mix, leaving the door open for both Mississippi schools, Kansas State and Arizona. Look for Kansas State to be left out of the line-up with both Big 12 co-champs available.
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Michigan State
Fiesta Bowl: Arizona vs. Boise State
Cotton Bowl: Baylor vs. Ole Miss
Peach Bowl: TCU vs. Mississippi State