Bowl Projections 2015: Predicting Playoff Standings and Bowl Games Post-Week 13

Bryan Fischer@BryanDFischerNational College Football Columnist November 30, 2015

Stanford's Conrad Ukropina (34) hits a 45-yard field goal as time expires to give Stanford a 38-36 win over Notre Dame during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The regular season is (mostly) over. With that, we're on to championship week.

That means that, outside of a handful of Big 12 and Sun Belt teams, the bowl picture is mostly set for the vast majority of college football teams.

It makes life much easier for those of us who do bowl projections as a result, as we start to see some settling of the landscape and teams naturally falling into order. Heck, we've already seen at least one team, Middle Tennessee State, accept a bowl bid already. 

Even the College Football Playoff picture has gone from chaotic to murky to crystal clear in just a few short days. 

Thus, there are only a handful of remaining questions left to figure out: Which matchups do bowl committees favor, and how, exactly, will 5-7 teams be selected this postseason? We're set to have at least two, and possibly as many as five, sub-.500 teams in the mix for bowl bids, and we won't get any clarity on the issue until the Football Oversight Committee issues some sort of clarification. 

With that still in limbo, this postseason snapshot is as solid as they come…until Sunday and things become very real for every team, bowl and host city. For now, though, this is how the bowl picture looks. A hearty disclaimer that these are projecting the rest of the season, Top 25 rankings and more.

  • Here are the full Top 25 rankings. The College Football Playoff selection committee will release its second-to-last set of rankings on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. It will then release the final bowl pairings on December 6 at noon ET on ESPN.
  • No changes to the predicted final four teams, but there was one tweak in moving Oklahoma ahead of Alabama. While the committee does love the Crimson Tide, the convincing road win by the Sooners at Oklahoma State this week combined with the Big 12 title (and overall impressive resume) should be enough to give a slight edge to Oklahoma this week regardless of what happens in Atlanta. The reason the committee would be inclined to do this is because it can then put Oklahoma and Alabama in the Cotton Bowl without SEC fans throwing fits (because they'd be the No. 2 seed traveling down the road instead of the No. 3 seed). It doesn't matter when it comes to the order but would help with optics.
  • Even though Clemson may not be playing better than anybody, as the lone undefeated team and one who the committee has thought highly of in the past, it's doubtful that it moves off the top spot with a win over North Carolina. Hope Tigers fans have booked those tickets to South Beach already.

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  • Houston, B/R bowl projections are sorry for that one week of doubting you would receive the Group of Five bid. Welcome back. Your reward is to face a young Florida State team that likely punched its ticket to the New Year's Six by beating Florida. That should place both high enough in the rankings to earn a trip to the Peach Bowl, which gets the nod for this matchup over the Fiesta Bowl because of the timing of the game and its location relative to Tallahassee.
  • At one point, the Fiesta Bowl between Notre Dame and Ohio State could have been a semifinal. That may no longer be the case, but this should still become the hottest ticket outside of the playoff games this postseason. Two historic programs, a ton of talent and a pair of great head coaches? The committee wouldn't pass this up.
  • The Rose Bowl can still select the Buckeyes, but Iowa's Pasadena drought and the fact that its only potential loss would come in the Big Ten title game is enough to give the Hawkeyes a lock on a trip out West to face the Pac-12 champion.
  • We think there will be five 5-7 teams in the postseason: Rice, Kansas State (who still has a shot at 6-6 this week), Missouri, Minnesota and Nebraska. Grumble about this all you want, but you know you'll still watch. 
  • In terms of football die-hards watching a game, it will be hard to top the chess match between TCU coordinator Gary Patterson's defense and Oregon's offense in the Alamo Bowl. Arizona State head coach Todd Graham's blitzes against Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl isn't a bad one, either.
  • The Belk Bowl is in line to have a terrific send-off game, with Frank Beamer's Virginia Tech Hokies facing off against the departing Dak Prescott's Mississippi State Bulldogs. That should be a fairly even game, too, with both teams having a lot of time to prepare.

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You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.