Bowl Projections: Predictions for Georgia, UCF, Penn State and More

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 20, 2018

FILE - In this  Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 file photo, Georgia running back D'Andre Swift (7) fends off Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis (57) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Athens, Ga. In Mark Whipple’s two stints as the UMass coach covering 11 years and time spent in FCS and FBS, No. 5 Georgia is his pick as the Minutemen’s toughest opponent. Such playmakers as quarterback Jake Fromm and tailback D’Andre Swift make the Bulldogs heavy favorites on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

With one week of play left for most college football teams, the bowl picture still looks a bit messy. 

Outside of the four teams projected to play in the College Football Playoff, there's only a handful of programs deserving of spots in New Year's Six bowls. 

Since there are only three two-loss teams in the AP Top 25, and at least three power conference championship games will feature a program with three losses or more, it's hard to figure out who is worthy of positions in the nation's most prestigious postseason matches. 

Given the mediocrity across college football, the SEC could earn up to three New Year's Six berths, while a few three-loss teams could sneak into the top-tier bowl games if results fall in their favor. 


Bowl Projections

College Football Playoff

Cotton Bowl (December 29): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Michigan 

Orange Bowl (December 29): No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame 


New Year's Six

Peach Bowl (December 29): Penn State vs. Florida 

Fiesta Bowl (January 1): UCF vs. LSU 

Rose Bowl (January 1): Ohio State vs. Washington State

Sugar Bowl (January 1): Oklahoma vs. Georgia


Other Bowls

New Mexico Bowl (December 15): San Diego State vs. North Texas 

Cure Bowl (December 15): SMU vs. Arkansas State 

Las Vegas Bowl (December 15): Utah State vs. Arizona State

Camellia Bowl (December 15): Western Michigan vs. Appalachian State

New Orleans Bowl (December 15): Marshall vs. Troy

Boca Raton Bowl (December 18): South Florida vs. Florida International

Frisco Bowl (December 19): Toledo vs. Southern Miss

Gasparilla Bowl (December 20): Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic

Bahamas Bowl (December 21): Ohio vs. Middle Tennessee State

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (December 21): Boise State vs. Eastern Michigan

Birmingham Bowl (December 22): Cincinnati vs. Arizona

Armed Forces Bowl (December 22): Temple vs. Army

Dollar General Bowl (December 22): Buffalo vs. Georgia Southern 

Hawaii Bowl (December 22): Hawaii vs. Louisiana Tech 

First Responder Bowl (December 26): BYU vs. UAB

Quick Lane Bowl (December 26): Northern Illinois vs. Georgia Tech

Cheez-It Bowl (December 26): Texas Tech vs. California

Independence Bowl (December 27): Miami vs. Tulane

Pinstripe Bowl (December 27): Purdue vs. Duke

Texas Bowl (December 27): Iowa State vs. Tennessee

Music City Bowl (December 28): Pittsburgh vs. Missouri

Camping World Bowl (December 28): Syracuse vs. Texas

Alamo Bowl (December 28): West Virginia vs. Utah

Belk Bowl (December 29): NC State vs. South Carolina

Arizona Bowl (December 29): Nevada vs. Louisiana

Military Bowl (December 31): Virginia vs. Houston

Sun Bowl (December 31): Oregon vs. Boston College

Redbox Bowl (December 31): Fresno State vs. Stanford

Liberty Bowl (December 31): Oklahoma State vs. Auburn

Holiday Bowl (December 31): Washington vs. Iowa 

Gator Bowl (December 31): Michigan State vs. Texas A&M

Outback Bowl (January 1): Mississippi State vs. Wisconsin 

Citrus Bowl (January 1): Kentucky vs. Northwestern


Georgia In Good Shape Regardless Of SEC Championship Result

If you take a quick glance over the records of the teams in the upper half of the Top 25, there aren't many one-loss teams remaining. 

In past years, the SEC Championship loser might be worried about getting into a New Year's Six bowl with two losses, but this season it's certain Georgia will get into a marquee bowl regardless of the result in Atlanta next week. 

The Bulldogs possess a 4-1 record over ranked teams, and they've won in convincing fashion for the majority of the campaign. 

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 10: Riley Ridley #8 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs with a catch against the Auburn Tigers on November 10, 2018 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

No matter how it plays Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Bulldogs will be in line for a clash with another marquee program. 

If everything remains the same at the top of the rankings, which it has for a few weeks, the Bulldogs will square off with Big 12 champion Oklahoma in a rematch of the national semifinal at the Rose Bowl from a year ago. 

Of course, there's always the potential for the Bulldogs to knock off Alabama and throw the playoff projections off. 

In that scenario, the Bulldogs would qualify for the playoff as either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed and play Notre Dame, while the debate would rage on between Alabama and Michigan for the No. 4 seed. 

Although the Bulldogs will hand Alabama one of its stiffest tests of the season, we can't see the Tide losing, which is why Kirby Smart's team has to settle for a rematch with the Sooners. 


UCF Makes Unsuccessful Playoff Push, Lands in New Year's Six Game

UCF proved Saturday night it can impress on the national stage against a ranked foe, but the victory over Cincinnati won't be enough to send the Knights near the top four of the playoff rankings. 

The victory over Cincinnati showed us that the Knights are a comparable team to Oklahoma, Ohio State and Washington State, and some could argue Josh Heupel's team is better than some of those programs because of its defense. 

UCF concedes 20.4 points per game, which is four points better than the Buckeyes and 10 points better than the Sooners. 

The Knights jumped above Ohio State in both polls Sunday, but where they land Tuesday will be the true measure of how much, or how little, the playoff committee values Group of Five teams. 

Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

No matter where UCF lands Tuesday, it has to focus on qualifying for the New Year's Six by way of victories over a South Florida team that has stumbled through conference play and either Houston or Memphis in The American Championship. 

As long as the Knights take care of business in the final two games, they will set themselves up with a chance to showcase their quality on a national stage against a SEC team for the second straight year. 

Since the SEC is looking at three at-large berths into the New Year's Six, the chances are high the Knights would play one of them, and although we have them set for a clash with LSU, it would be fun to see an in-state showdown with Florida. 


Penn State Set To Claim Final At-Large Berth In New Year's Six

Figuring out the 11th-and 12th-best teams in the nation is a task no one wants to undertake with the wide range of results we've seen throughout the season. 

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Penn State has fallen on three occasions, but because of the attrition in the middle of the rankings, it's set to benefit from a strong close to the regular season. 

With the top 10 teams in the polls likely to get into the playoff and New Year's Six bowls, the Nittany Lions are currently fighting with Florida, West Virginia and Texas for the final two at-large berths. 

Either Texas or West Virginia will be eliminated from the group with a loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship, while Florida looks safe because the committee has made it clear through their rankings it values the strength of the SEC. 

The best-possible situation for Penn State features a win Saturday over Maryland and wins by Oklahoma over West Virginia and Texas in the next two weeks. 

However, if things go haywire in the Big 12, Penn State could be sent to Florida for either the Gator Bowl, Outback Bowl or Citrus Bowl. 

If Oklahoma wins out, though, Penn State will be in position to play in its third different New Year's Six game in the three years and first against an opponent outside the Pac-12. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.


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