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Final bowl projections, updated after Championship Saturday

December 02,2018 13:35

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, but more importantly, it's ...and more »

Final bowl projections 2018, updated after Championship Saturday - SBNation.com

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Here are picks for all 40 bowl games, updated as key games go final in college football’s final Saturday.
By Jason Kirk Updated Dec 2, 2018, 7:28am EST

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

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, but more importantly, it’s some weekly fun!
Below, projections for all 40 2018 bowl games. I’ll update as needed throughout college football’s final Saturday before Selection Sunday.
Cotton (Arlington, Texas): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
Orange (Miami): No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
Championship (Santa Clara, California): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Clemson
Bama and Clemson are now in. Notre Dame was already in.
The fourth spot was expected to come down to Ohio State or Oklahoma. I think OU probably has the better case there, but ... Georgia will remain in the debate, like it or not, after being the first team all year to nearly beat Alabama.
I think the committee will drop UGA, rather than snubbing two Power 5 conferences to put in the first-ever two-loss team (which did also lose a blowout to LSU). Georgia is a better football team than either Oklahoma or Ohio State. Gotta win to make it in, though.
The No. 1 seed is determined by proximity to campus, though some are speculating Bama could end up in the Orange, to keep opponent Oklahoma from having more of a geographic edge. The committee’s never indicated it tries to do that, though at least Miami isn’t much further from Tuscaloosa.

Automatic bids:
Rose (Pasadena, California): Ohio State vs. Washington
Sugar (New Orleans): Texas vs. Georgia
Pac-12 champ Washington is in the Rose. The other spot will either go to a non-Playoff Ohio State or Michigan (if Ohio State makes the Playoff).
The Sugar will either be Texas or Oklahoma, depending on whether OU makes the Playoff or not. The Big 12’s rules mean the conference runner-up is next in line, eliminating West Virginia.
Georgia’s in the Sugar unless it somehow makes the Playoff. If the SEC gets two teams in, Florida’s in the Sugar.
At-large bids:
Peach (Atlanta): Florida vs. UCF
Fiesta (Glendale, Arizona): LSU vs. Michigan
UCF is in. And it’s hard to see top-10 Florida, LSU, and Michigan falling out of the NY6.
The committee would prefer not to send UCF to a repeat Peach Bowl, but I think Florida-UCF is hot enough of a matchup to merit breaking that “rule.” LSU vs. Michigan is a natural HELMET MATCHUP anyway, the kind the committee strives to create, and do we really want to see yet another Florida-Michigan game? So flip the locations if you really want, but I feel good about these pairings.
Citrus (Orlando): Penn State vs. Kentucky
Outback (Tampa): Iowa vs. Mississippi State
Gator (Jacksonville): Miami vs. Texas A&M
Holiday (San Diego): Northwestern vs. Oregon
Liberty (Memphis): Oklahoma State vs. Vanderbilt
Military (Annapolis, MD): Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Sun (El Paso): Pitt vs. Arizona State
Belk (Charlotte): Virginia vs. South Carolina
Alamo (San Antonio): West Virginia vs. Washington State
Arizona (Tucson): San Diego State vs. Arkansas State
Camping World (Orlando): NC State vs. Iowa State
Music City (Nashville): Michigan State vs. Missouri
Texas (Houston): TCU vs. Auburn
Pinstripe (New York City): Syracuse vs. Purdue
Independence (Shreveport, LA): Boston College vs. BYU*
Cheez-It (Phoenix): Baylor vs. Cal
Quick Lane (Detroit): Georgia Tech vs. Wisconsin
First Responders (Dallas): Duke* vs. North Texas
Redbox (Santa Clara, CA): Minnesota vs. Utah
Hawaii: Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii
Dollar General (Mobile): Buffalo vs. Troy
Armed Forces (Fort Worth): Army* vs. Nevada*
Potato (Boise): NIU vs. Utah State*
Bahamas: FIU vs. Toledo
Gasparilla (Tampa): USF vs. Wake Forest
Frisco (TX): Temple vs. Ohio
Boca Raton: Houston vs. MTSU
New Orleans: Southern Miss vs. Appalachian State
Camellia (Montgomery, AL): WMU vs. Georgia Southern
Las Vegas: Fresno State vs. Stanford
Cure (Orlando): Tulane vs. UL Lafayette
New Mexico (Albuquerque): Marshall vs. Boise State
* = Taking another conference’s unfilled bid.
We officially have too many bowl-eligible teams. I can’t find spots for EMU, Miami (Ohio), ULM, or Wyoming, thanks in part to Virginia Tech now taking a spot. However, almost any lower-tier bowl with MAC or Mountain West ties could take those teams.
The one bid where I really surprised myself here: Wisconsin down in the Quick Lane. That’s a big draw of a team, but lots of other teams in its proximity had more exciting seasons. We’ll see.
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.

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