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2016-17 Bowl Projections: Preseason

We've yet to see a down of football, but it's never to early to guess what bowl match ups we may get come December. We have fifteen weeks of regular season football ahead of us before the wonderful gift of bowl season. Here are my preseason bowl projections.

In preparation for projecting 34 bowls, plus the New Year’s Six, I have run through countless scenarios, conference standings and championship games. After toiling away and losing all concept of the AAC vs. ACC, I have finally landed on my preseason 2016-17 bowl projections.

2016-17 Bowl Projections: Preseason

I started with my pick to go undefeated (Clemson) and worked my way down to teams on the fringe of bowl eligibility. Florida State vs. Clemson is marked on my calendar, as I see it deciding a playoff spot, as this game tends to do as of late.

Ohio State vs. Michigan could be a de facto quarter final as well, with the winner likely a favorite to win the Big Ten title over the West representative.

With a little over sixteen weeks to go until bowl season kicks off, we have upsets, rivalries, polls, and a myriad of bowl match-ups to look forward to. In the mean time, here are my bowl projections, preseason style.

College Football Playoff

Peach Bowl
#1 Clemson vs. #4 UCLA

Fiesta Bowl
#2 Alabama vs. #3 Michigan

National Championship Game
#1 Clemson vs. #3 Michigan

National Champion
Michigan Wolverines

One’s eyes always dart to the College Football Playoff picks and the top tier New Year’s Six Bowls pitting the cream of the crop against one another.

The first weekend of the season could very well derail my picks for a couple of playoff teams. The number four slot belongs to UCLA for now, as I have them winning a battle of two-loss teams in the Pac-12 Championship Game (over Washington).

If the Bruins drop their opener at Texas A&M, they will drop out of these picks next week, and would find themselves in a hole, with a Pac-12 title likely their only attainable prize.

I have two-loss TCU, Notre Dame and Oklahoma waiting in the wings for that fourth slot, and UCLA getting the nod due to a potential conference championship game win. This would give them a game up on the Big 12 champ, given TCU/Oklahoma don’t have a championship game to win (or lose).

The selection committee has made it clear that they value conference championships, and we have already seen the Big 12 left out of the playoff when TCU and Baylor were declared co-champions a couple seasons ago.

New Years Six Bowls

Rose Bowl
Ohio State vs. Washington

Sugar Bowl

Orange Bowl
Florida State vs. Notre Dame

Cotton Bowl
Tennessee vs. Houston

The Group of Five will send a team, most likely to the Cotton Bowl, which has no true conference tie-ins this season. The Group of Five can land a team in the Playoff, as a champion of the AAC, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, or Sun Belt.

Houston is the popular pick to repeat as the Group of Five representative this season. I also have Appalachian State, Boise State, San Diego State, and Western Kentucky as the teams that may be vying for a berth in the New Year’s Six.

I think San Diego State has a great shot to go 12 – 0, but lose the Mountain West Championship Game to Boise State, thus eliminating them from contention. Again, only the highest ranked champion from the Group of Five will be eligible for selection in the elite four games or the playoff.


Bowl Season Projections

Outback Bowl: Big Ten vs. SEC
Michigan State vs. Texas A&M

TaxSlayer Bowl: SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten/Notre Dame
Missouri vs. Miami (FL)

Citrus Bowl: SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten/Notre Dame
Georgia vs. Iowa

Music City Bowl: ACC/Big Ten vs. SEC
Wisconsin vs. Arkansas

Hyundai Sun Bowl: ACC/Notre Dame vs. PAC-12
Virginia Tech vs. Utah

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Big 12 vs. SEC
Baylor vs. Ole Miss

Arizona Bowl: Mountain West vs. Sun Belt
Nevada vs. Troy

Valero Alamo Bowl: Big 12 vs. PAC-12
Oklahoma vs. USC

Belk Bowl: ACC vs. SEC
UNC vs. Auburn

Birmingham Bowl: AAC vs. SEC
Tulsa vs. UL-Lafayette*

Texas Bowl: Big 12 vs. SEC
Oklahoma State vs. Florida

Foster Farms Bowl: Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Minnesota vs. Stanford

Russell Athletic Bowl: ACC vs. Big 12
Louisville vs. Texas

Pinstripe Bowl: ACC vs. Big Ten
Boston College vs. Northwestern

Cactus Bowl: Big 12 vs. Pac-12
Texas Tech vs. Arizona State

Holiday Bowl: Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Penn State vs. Oregon

Military Bowl: AAC vs. ACC
UConn vs. NC State

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Big Ten vs. C-USA
Kansas State* vs. Western Kentucky

Independence Bowl: ACC vs. SEC
Georgia Tech vs. Old Dominion *

Quick Lane Bowl: ACC vs. Big Ten
Pitt vs. Indiana

St. Petersburg Bowl: AAC vs. ACC
South Florida vs. Toledo *

Hawai’i Bowl: C-USA vs. Mountain West
Rice vs. Air Force

Dollar General Bowl: MAC vs. Sun Belt
Western Michigan vs. Arkansas State

Armed Forces Bowl: Navy vs. Big 12
Navy vs. West Virginia

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl: C-USA vs. MAC
Southern Miss vs. Ohio

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: MAC vs. Mountain West
Bowling Green vs. Utah State

Poinsettia Bowl: BYU vs. Mountain West
BYU vs. San Diego State

Boca Raton Bowl: AAC vs. C-USA
Cincinnati vs. Marshall

Miami Beach Bowl: AAC vs. MAC
Temple vs. Northern Illinois

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: C-USA vs. Sun Belt
Middle Tennessee vs. Appalachian State

AutoNation Cure Bowl: AAC vs. Sun Belt
Memphis vs. South Alabama

Camellia Bowl: MAC vs. Sun Belt
Central Michigan vs. Georgia Southern

Las Vegas Bowl: Mountain West vs. Pac-12
Boise State vs. Washington State **

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: C-USA vs. Mountain West
UTEP vs. New Mexico


I have Kentucky, Wake Forest, Maryland, Rutgers, UNLV, Georgia State, Akron and Army in the mix for bowl eligibility. I have the SEC and Big Ten with 10 bowl eligible teams apiece. The SEC may put three teams in New Year’s Six Bowls, thus moving each team up a notch in the pecking order.

* = Replacement team

** This would be a rematch of Boise State and Washington State’s Week 2 matchup, so the Pac-12 might elect to send the Cougars to Santa Clara to face a Big Ten team in the Foster Farms Bowl. This would likely pit Boise State against Stanford, a potential matchup of nine-plus win teams.


Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images


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