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):
USF vs. South Alabama
New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM) (December 16, 5:45 PM ET, ESPN, Mountain West vs. Group of Five):
New Mexico State vs. Wyoming
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
The Mountain West champion currently has the most direct path to the New Year’s Six. I explain later on. As a result, projected conference runner-up, Air Force heads to Hollywood to play Utah in a matchup between former WAC and Mountain West rivals. This would be the schools’ 27th meeting and first since 2010.
Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA) (December 16, 9:15 PM ET, ESPN, PAC-12 #7 vs. Big 12 #7):
TCU vs. Washington State
Myrtle Beach Bowl (December 18, 2:30 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Georgia State vs. Eastern Michigan
Frisco Bowl (Frisco, TX) (December 19, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Rice vs. Texas State
I’m not sure many people predicted that Rice and not UTSA would be the AAC team to defeat Houston, but here we are. Suddenly, games against USF, Tulsa, UConn, and Charlotte look winnable. The USF game could be a bowl eliminator. Yet, a 5-7 Rice still likely makes a bowl due to a shortage of teams and Rice’s high APR.
Boca Raton Bowl (December 21, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Marshall vs. FAU
Gasparilla Bowl (December 22, 6:30 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five/AAC/ACC/SEC):
Auburn vs. Louisville
Birmingham Bowl(December 23,12:00 PM ET, ABC, Group of Five vs. Group of Five/AAC/ACC/SEC)
Memphis vs. South Carolina
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 #8):
SMU vs. Wyoming
Cowboys versus Mustangs. This is a matchup John Wayne would have been proud of.
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 five 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. Ball State
Las Vegas Bowl (December 23, 7:30 PM ET, ESPN, PAC-12 #3 vs. Big Ten #4):
Minnesota 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):
Kansas vs. Army
Army re-enters my bowl projections after a statement win over UTSA. I expect the other Big 12 partners to pass on Kansas, landing them in the Big 12’s other coveted Dallas Bowl game.
Guaranteed Rate Bowl(December 26, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN, Big Ten vs. Big 12 #6):
Nebraska vs. Kansas State
Who does not love a classic Big 8 matchup? The wealth of bowl-eligible bowl teams in the Big 12 could push a solid Kansas State team all the way down the bowl chain. I expect the Liberty Bowl to pass on Kansas State for BYU, given the Wildcats appeared in 2019 and BYU is a national brand that has not appeared since 1998. Nebraska and Kansas State would meet for the 96th time and first time since 2010.
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.
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. Oklahoma
Fenway Bowl (Boston, MA) (December 28, 11:00 AM ET, ESPN, ACC vs. AAC):
Syracuse vs. Tulane
A bizarre scenario could play out here. Tulane could end the season with a 12-1 record and somehow miss the New Year’s Six. Fresno State’s resume betters the Green Wave with two Power Five wins, including a decisive 29-0 win on the road against Arizona State. This is a tough break for the Green Wave as had Michael Pratt played against Ole Miss, the Green Wave may have won that game and given the Green Wave a better resume and possible Playoff argument.
Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx, NY) (December 28, 2:15 PM ET, ACC vs. Big Ten):
Pitt vs. Rutgers
With Michigan State’s season looking lost, I predict Rutgers will beat Wagner, Michigan State, and Indiana to reach six wins. Their reward, a classic, original Big East matchup with Pitt. This will be the schools’
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. Texas Tech
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):
BYU 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):
Maryland vs. Florida
Surprisingly, this would be Florida’s first Reliaquest Bowl appearance since 2016. Who wouldn’t want a 2002 Orange Bowl rematch?
Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL) (January 1, 1:00 PM ET, ABC, SEC vs. Big Ten #2):
Alabama vs. Iowa
Alabama looks like a team that could lose to both Ole Miss and LSU. If the Tide lose three games, I expect them to slide all the way down to the Citrus Bowl. Even though the Tide played in the Citrus Bowl in 2019, I expect the SEC to slot them in the Citrus Bowl again to avoid a second appearance in Tampa this season.
New Year’s Six:
Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) (December 29, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN):
Ohio State vs. Washington
Taking Alabama’s place is Ohio State. Who I project to finish 10-2. This creates a Rose Bowl in Texas situation or a 2021 Rose Bowl rerun.
Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA) (December 30, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN):
Penn State vs. LSU
Orange Bowl (Miami, FL) (December 30, 4:00 PM ET):
North Carolina vs. Alabama
Clemson’s loss to Duke is an indicator that they may not even make the ACC title game. North Carolina has an easier schedule than Duke, as they dodge Florida State and Notre Dame. As a result, I have them in the ACC title game as the Duke-UNC winner and in the Orange Bowl.
I expect the Tennessee-Alabama game winner to end up here. If Tennessee wins, they likely end the season at 11-1 with a loss to Georgia. If Alabama wins, both teams likely finish with two losses, with Alabama likely losing to Georgia in the national title game.
Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ) (January 1, 1:00 PM ET, ESPN):
USC vs. Fresno State
See above for why Tulane is no longer in the New Year’s Six.
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