Bahamas Bowl (December 16, 11 AM ET, ESPN, Conference USA vs. MAC):
Western Kentucky vs. Ohio
New Orleans Bowl (December 16, 2:15 PM ET, ESPN, Conference USA vs. Sun Belt):
Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina
Cure Bowl (Orlando, FL) (December 16, 3:30 PM ET, ABC, Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Eastern Michigan vs. South Alabama
New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM) (December 16, 5:45 PM ET, ESPN, Mountain West vs. Group of Five):
Wyoming vs. ULM
The Conference USA bowl race will be strange. At the start of the 2020-2025 bowl cycle, the then 14-team conference received seven bowl slots. Now the conference has nine members at the start of the 2023 season. To make matters even more ridiculous, two schools, Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State are ineligible for bowl games since it is their first year at the FBS level. Hypothetically, all-seven bowl eligible Conference USA teams could make a bowl.
The Bahamas Bowl could pick a team that has never been to the bowl and Liberty is the first that comes to mind. This could create one of the more high-powered bowl matchups of the postseason against MAC frontrunner, Ohio.
LA Bowl (December 16, 7:30 PM ET, ABC, Mountain West #1 vs. PAC-12 #6):
Air Force vs. Utah
Should Fresno State go to the New Year’s Six, Air Force takes their place in the LA Bowl. Awaiting the Falcons is former WAC and Mountain West foe, Utah in the schools’ first meeting since 2010.
Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA) (December 16, 9:15 PM ET, ESPN, PAC-12 #7 vs. Big 12 #7):
Kansas vs. Washington State
Myrtle Beach Bowl (December 18, 2:30 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Georgia State vs. East Carolina
Frisco Bowl (Frisco, TX) (December 19, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Rice vs. Texas State
Boca Raton Bowl (December 21, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Middle Tennessee vs. FAU
Gasparilla Bowl (December 22, 6:30 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five/AAC/ACC/SEC):
South Carolina vs. USF
USF enters this week’s bowl projections with a win over Rice. The Bulls look like a middle-tier AAC team with winnable games against UConn, UAB, Navy, Charlotte, and Temple.
Birmingham Bowl (December 23,12:00 PM ET, ABC, Group of Five vs. Group of Five/AAC/ACC/SEC):
Troy vs. Missouri
I firmly believe with how weak the American is this year, they will vacate this bowl and allow nearby Troy to become the first Sun Belt team to play a Power Five school in a bowl game.
Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, AL) (December 23, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN, Sun Belt vs. MAC):
Northern Illinois vs. Appalachian State
Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, TX) (December 23, 3:30 PM ET, ABC, Army/Mountain West/AAC vs. Big 12 #7):
Army vs. TCU
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise, ID) (December 23, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN, Mountain West vs. MAC):
Utah State vs. Miami (OH)
Despite only being four hours away from Boise, the Aggies have not appeared in the Potato Bowl since 2015. Sending the Aggies to Boise will help a bowl that consistently struggles with attendance. Last season, the Potato Bowl matchup of San Jose State-Eastern Michigan only drew 10,122 fans.
68 Ventures Bowl (Mobile, AL) (December 23, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Georgia Southern vs. Akron
After a near-upset of Indiana, what would have been their second Big Ten win since 1900, the Zips enter my projections as a dark horse in the MAC East.
Las Vegas Bowl (December 23, 7:30 PM ET, ESPN, PAC-12 #3 vs. Big Ten #4):
Illinois vs. Colorado
Hawaii Bowl (December 23, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN, Mountain West vs. AAC):
Boise State vs. UTSA
Believe it or not, the Mountain West bowl picture starts in Hawaii. Obviously, traveling to the islands is a major undertaking for any athletic department, so the Mountain West looks to benefit the teams with their selection. Teams who have appeared recently and those that play road games at Hawaii during the season are virtually eliminated. As a result, do not expect San Jose State, Nevada, Colorado State, Air Force, or San Diego State to play in this game.
Boise State-UTSA is an intriguing matchup between one Group of Five blueblood and a rising Group of Five powerhouse. ESPN loves pairing UTSA in these type of games as the Roadrunners played 2021 Mountain West champion San Diego State in the 2021 Frisco Bowl and 2022 Sun Belt champion Troy in last year’s Cure Bowl.
Quick Lane Bowl (December 26, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN, MAC vs. Big Ten #8):
Central Michigan vs. UNLV
Death, taxes, and the Big Ten not being able to send a team to the Quick Lane Bowl. A Big Ten school has not appeared in the Quick Lane Bowl since 2018.
UConn’s loss to Georgia State drastically decreased my confidence in them reaching Bowl eligibility. The Huskies likely need to pull an upset against Tennessee, Duke, James Madison, and Boston College. The Boston College game looks like more of a swing game now than the surefire win many thought it would be.
For now, UNLV takes their place as a 6-6 at-large out of the Mountain West. This will be there first Bowl since 2013 and second bowl of the millennium.
First Responder Bowl (December 26, 5:30 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five/Big 12):
West Virginia vs. Marshall
West Virginia’s win over Texas Tech has them replacing the Red Raiders in my bowl projections. Their reward? The 13th playing of the Friends of Coal Bowl and first meeting between the two schools since 2012.
Guaranteed Rate Bowl (December 26, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN, Big Ten vs. Big 12 #6):
Nebraska vs. BYU
Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD) (December 27, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN, ACC vs. AAC):
Navy vs. Wake Forest
Shockingly, Navy has not appeared in their home stadium’s bowl since 2017, instead going to the Liberty Bowl in their last bowl season in 2019. The two schools have 12 meetings in a series that dates back to 1929.
Duke’s Mayo Bowl (Charlotte, NC)(December 27, 5:30 PM ET, ESPN, ACC vs. SEC):
Duke vs. Mississippi State
Duke is the North Carolina team of the year for the Mayo Bowl, having not appeared in the bowl since 2012, back when it was the Belk Bowl.
A Duke win over Notre Dame on Saturday could shake up my bowl projections immensely.
Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA) (December 27, 8:00 PM ET, FOX, PAC-12 #4 vs. ACC):
Notre Dame vs. Washington
The Holiday Bowl wanted Notre Dame badly last year. This year they will get their wish. Washington could be just on the outside of the New Year’s Six and Notre Dame will likely be ranked during bowl season, making this arguably the best bowl outside of the New Year’s Six.
Texas Bowl (Houston, TX) (December, 27, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN, SEC vs. Big 12 #4):
Texas A&M vs. Houston
Fenway Bowl (Boston, MA) (December 28, 11:00 AM ET, ESPN, ACC vs. AAC):
Syracuse vs. Memphis
A strong season sends Memphis to the Fenway Bowl to play its proposed 1990 Metro Conference mate, Syracuse. Surprisingly, the two have never met.
Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx, NY) (December 28, 2:15 PM ET, ACC vs. Big Ten):
Louisville vs. Iowa
Pitt’s lack of success and Syracuse’s appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl last year puts the NYC in a less-than-optimal position. As a result, Louisville plays in a ballpark for the second straight year.
Pop Tarts Bowl (Orlando, FL) (December 28, 5:45 PM ET, ACC vs. Big 12 #3):
Miami vs. UCF
The Pop Tarts Bowl choosing the obvious popular geographic pick could send solid teams like Kansas State and brand-names such as Oklahoma down the Big 12 bowl selection order. However, a UCF-Miami matchup is too easy to pass up. The Knights’ fight for bragging rights in Florida draws fans in as the 2021 Gasparilla Bowl featuring Florida and UCF drew a sellout crowd.
Alamo Bowl: (San Antonio, TX) (December 28, 9:15 PM ET, PAC-12 #2 vs. Big 12 #2):
UCLA vs. Oklahoma
With preseason dark horse Texas Tech losing to West Virginia, Oklahoma takes their place in an awkward scenario for the Alamo Bowl. It’s unlikely that the Alamo Bowl passes on the Sooners because of prestige and proximity. However, it would be Oklahoma’s second Alamo Bowl in three years.
Gator Bowl: (Jacksonville, FL) (December 29, 12:00 PM ET, SEC vs. ACC)
Ole Miss vs. NC State
Sun Bowl: (El Paso, TX) (December 29, 2:00 PM ET, ACC vs. PAC-12 #5):
Clemson vs. Oregon State
After appearing in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in 2021 and having appeared in Charlotte so many times over the years, I have Duke going to the Duke’s Mayo Bowl and national power Clemson receiving the Sun Bowl invite due to their recent success and national following.
Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN) (December 29, 3:30 PM ET, SEC vs. Big 12 #5):
Kansas State vs. Kentucky
Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) (December 30, 2:00 PM ET, SEC vs. Big Ten):
Arkansas vs. Wisconsin
Arizona Bowl (Tucson, AZ) (December 30, 4:30 PM ET, Barstool, MAC vs. Mountain West):
Bowling Green vs. San Diego State
Reliaquest Bowl (Tampa, FL) (January 1, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN, SEC vs. Big Ten #3):
Iowa vs. Tennessee
Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL) (January 1, 1:00 PM ET, ABC, SEC vs. Big Ten #2):
Florida vs. Maryland
A 9-3 Maryland team likely gets the nod for the Citrus Bowl over a 10-2 or 9-3 Iowa due to their high-flying pass offense and Iowa’s more recent appearance in the Citrus Bowl.
New Year’s Six:
Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) (December 29, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN)
Penn State vs. Washington
Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA) (December 30, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN)
Alabama vs. Oregon
Orange Bowl (Miami, FL) (December 30, 4:00 PM ET)
North Carolina vs. Ohio State
Ohio State’s dramatic win over Notre Dame puts them in the New Year’s Six. At worst, Ohio State looks like a 2-loss team. The playoff discussion will get interesting if there are multiple one-loss teams in both the Big Ten and PAC-12.
Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ) (January 1, 1:00 PM ET, ESPN)
USC vs. Fresno State
Fresno State has a better resume than Tulane with two Power Five wins. Wins over Purdue and Arizona State could give the Bulldogs the edge over Tulane or whoever wins the American.
College Football Playoff Semifinals
Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) (January 1, 5:00 PM ET, ESPN)
#2 Michigan vs. #3 Texas
Texas takes USC’s spot in the playoff purely due to the lack of depth in the Big 12. USC has to get through Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Notre Dame. Texas’ toughest tests are Kansas State, Oklahoma, and maybe Texas Tech.
Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) (January 1, 8:45 PM ET, ESPN)
#1 Georgia vs. #4 Florida State
Florida State just survived its toughest test of the season arguably. Duke remains on the schedule, but I am uncertain if the Blue Devils can beat Florida State.