We decided that nine weeks is long enough to go without projecting bowls. Unfortunately, we also tapped me to do it.
The more I went about trying to understand the conferences' tie-ins and the ways in which the standings of each would shake out, the more I realized that at least for this first go-'round, it was easier to just list all the bowl games. As such, I'm sure I've made errors; you'll no doubt correct me and impugn my ability as a super-serious journalist.
|Sun Belt 1
|The Cajuns scrap their way to 6-6 to set up an organizers' dream in New Orleans. This breaks the attendance record.
|Middle Tennessee State
|The Lobos have a tough run in the rest of the way but only need two wins in their last five. C-USA shakes out with its third best team headed west.
|San Diego State
|Stanford here is pretty interchangeable with Cal, but imagine the slugfest that would be these two trying to stop each other's run attack.
|I don't know, pick a directional Michigan.
|BYU is auto-tied to the Poinsettia, while Air Force should get to six wins.
|Toledo jumps the MAC East champ by virtue of a 9-3 record and gets a Wyoming team with a virtual home-field advantage.
|A game that could be…vaguely exciting? Pick another directional Michigan if you don't like this projection.
|Big XII 7-8
|The jilted Broncos of the MAC go 13-0 but are beat on ranking and get a date with the Sun Belt's best as a reward.
|And that's Big Red before a sunburn…
|Akron replaces an SEC slot that goes unfilled.
|Army replaces an ACC slot that goes unfilled. Indiana's the darling of people's projections still, and I don't get it. Detroit will do just fine for the Hoosiers.
|An ideal matchup to fill the Trop…except no one goes to USF games as it is.
|Big XII 6
|I see the Golden Bears stumbling (and losing the Axe) down the stretch in the Pac-12. There is not a ton of discipline in Berkeley.
|Heart of Dallas
|Mizzou gets in by virtue of APR score. I don't get it either, but there you are. It's a short drive from Denton for the Mean Green.
|North Carolina State
|Believe me, I hate having Northwestern this high. But two teams in the NY6 and Iowa being uninspiring means that the 7-5 'Cats wind up facing the Dread Pirate Leach.
|Big XII 3
|Here's your basket of deplorables.
|A short jaunt for Maryland fans to pack Yankee Stadium and celebrate a return to bowling under DJ Durkin.
|Big XII 4
|Yeah. I know. It's gonna be awful.
|Big XII 2
|West-by-God-Virginia loses the Big XII Championship to Oklahoma and this is their reward. Colorado's runner-up finish in the Pac-12 South lands them here.
|THIS IS WHY YOU DON'T TRY IN SCHOOL. YOU WIND UP IN BIRMINGHAM.
|BERT BERT BERT BERT BERT BERT BERT BERT BERT BERT. Also there's no life in the Iowa campaign right now, and that plus the tiebreaker with Northwestern sends the Hawks to the second tier but closer to home.
|Yeah, that's right. Future I-AA school Idaho makes it to 6-6.
|Big XII 5
|I slotted UK in about 7 different spots before landing here. An Iowa-BERT matchup was too good to pass up in Nashville, though I could see the Wildcats bouncing there. The Cowboys muddle to 7-5 but get a local game.
|A rematch of two years ago? Yep, but this one's in a new Florida city! (Plus, Florida was in the Citrus last year, so it's Auburn's turn.)
|Penn State has played their way into the second non-marquee spot out of the Big Ten.
|New Year's Six Bowls
|Soooooo many eyeballs and pundits' erections watching this one. What will wacky Boise State do next?! (Also I really wish Western Michigan went here.)
|I honestly think the loser of the B1GCCG still gets the first crack at the Rose Bowl. Even if Nebraska fans profess to not care about it.
|Big XII 1
|Winner of the Big XII ain't making the playoff; A&M fills the SEC's spot when 'Bama makes the playoff.
|Tennessee could just as easily be in the Sugar, I suppose. You actually read down this far?
|College Football Playoff
|Self-explanatory, no? The best four teams in the nation are the best four in the nation 'til we're proven otherwise.
|The Huskies outlast Utah a second time to win the Pac-12, but 'Bama-Washington still won't even be a contest.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!