Ranking all 40 college football bowl games for 2016-17: From Heart of Dallas to CFP
Rankings play a major role in the sport of college football in general, and that impact is felt in the bowl system. With the College Football Playoff being played within the bowl system, not only do rankings determine which four teams will play in the semifinals, but they also determine the non-playoff teams in the rest of the New Year's Six bowls.
So with rankings being such a major part of the bowl process, it only makes sense to rank the bowls, right?
That's what I've done. I've ranked every single bowl for you. All 40 of them. The method I used to do this wasn't incredibly scientific, but I did have somewhat of a method to my madness. I factored in where the teams in each game rank in the same formula I use to compile the Fornelli 50 and Bottom 25, the gaps between the teams, and then a bit of my own opinion as to how I think they match up.
The results are the best bowl rankings you'll find anywhere. I swear these rankings will be accurate or your money back.
So let's get to ranking.
All times Eastern
40. Heart of Dallas Bowl -- Army vs. North Texas -- Dec. 27, 12 p.m.: Using the rankings in my formula, North Texas is the worst bowl team in 2016. Combine that with an Army team that is a surprise this season, but isn't exactly a bundle of excitement, and this one probably won't be very fun.
39. Hawaii Bowl -- Middle Tennessee vs. Hawaii -- Dec. 24, 8 p.m.: Do you think Hawaii players dream of getting to go to Idaho or something on a bowl trip?
38. Birmingham Bowl -- South Florida vs. South Carolina -- Dec. 29, 2 p.m.: This is the third straight season that a team with Will Muschamp on its coaching staff will play in the Birmingham Bowl. It's the first time Muschamp will be there.
37. Miami Beach Bowl -- Tulsa vs. Central Michigan -- Dec. 19, 2:30 p.m.: This game has a chance to get interesting, but I just think there's such a gap between these teams that it could easily become a blowout.
36. Arizona Bowl -- Air Force vs. South Alabama -- Dec. 30, 5:30 p.m.: South Alabama is a strange team. It beat both Mississippi State and San Diego State, but it lost to teams like Louisiana-Monroe and Georgia Southern. Hopefully the good USA shows up, even if USA vs. Air Force is some kind of Civil War.
35. St. Petersburg Bowl -- Miami (Ohio) vs. Mississippi State -- Dec. 26, 11 a.m.: The Redhawks are a great story this season, recovering from an 0-6 start to get to 6-6, but I have a hard time imagining they give Mississippi State much of a fight.
34. New Orleans Bowl -- Southern Miss vs. UL-Lafayette -- Dec. 17, 9 p.m.: These two teams aren't very good, but they do have a hint of insanity in them. Maybe this one gets strange.
33. Military Bowl -- No. 24 Temple vs. Wake Forest -- Dec. 27, 3:30 p.m.: I wouldn't expect this game to last very long, so that's good. I just don't know how competitive it will be.
32. New Mexico Bowl -- UTSA vs. New Mexico -- Dec. 17, 2 p.m.: New Mexico games tend to feature a lot of points, and I can definitely see that being the case in this game. The question is whether or not it'll be close.
31. Bahamas Bowl -- Old Dominion vs. Eastern Michigan -- Dec. 23, 1 p.m.: Two great stories, as Old Dominion plays in its first bowl game after joining the FBS in 2014 and Eastern Michigan plays in its first bowl game since since 1987 (only its second ever). Like I said, great stories. I just don't know how great the game will be.
30. Cure Bowl -- Arkansas State vs. UCF -- Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m.: I was tempted to bump this game up a few spots just because it has the threat of a scoring bonanza living just beneath the surface.
29. Poinsettia Bowl -- BYU vs. Wyoming -- Dec. 21, 9 p.m.: BYU absolutely refuses to play in anything but a close game, and Wyoming's defense absolutely refuses to ever let the Cowboys pull away. This ranking isn't great, but there's a lot of upside possibilities here.
28. Quick Lane Bowl -- Boston College vs. Maryland -- Dec. 26, 2:30 p.m.: I don't know how exciting this game was going to be, but I have a sneaking suspicion it'll be close. For now, that's enough to get this game to No. 28, but this one has the potential to be Not Good.
27. Cactus Bowl -- Baylor vs. Boise State -- Dec. 27, 10: 15 p.m.: A lot of this depends on whether Baylor shows up excited to play in this game. If it does it could prove to be great. If it doesn't, it'll likely be a stinker.
26. Potato Bowl -- Colorado State vs. Idaho -- Dec. 22, 7 p.m.: Another fantastic story as Idaho goes 8-4 and reaches only its third bowl game in program history (first since 2009) ... and prepares to drop down to the FCS level in 2018.
25. Independence Bowl -- NC State vs. Vanderbilt -- Dec. 26, 5 p.m.: All right, so maybe my own personal affinity for Vanderbilt and its defense is causing me to rank the one a little higher than I should. Still, I think this one has a good chance of being good in that ugly kind of way.
24. TaxSlayer Bowl -- Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky -- Dec. 31, 11 a.m.: Two teams you probably didn't pay a lot of attention to this season that could get your New Year's Eve started off right. I'm telling you, I have a sneaking suspicion about this one. Just not a strong enough one to move it above No. 24.
23. Dollar General Bowl -- Ohio vs. Troy -- Dec. 23, 8 p.m.: Some of my favorite bowl games are the ones that offer a matchup between Group of Five teams that fly under-the-radar but are better than you think. This game does just that. It also features a 72-year-old coach (Ohio's Frank Solich) going against a 36-year-old coach (Troy's Neal Brown). Solich will literally be facing a coach half his age. It feels like the plot to a terrible Seth Rogen movie just waiting to be made.
22. Belk Bowl -- No. 22 Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas -- Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m.: I really wanted to rank this game a lot higher, but Arkansas' defense has just been so bad this season that there's too much blowout potential here. But there's upside, too.
21. Foster Farms Bowl -- Indiana vs. No. 19 Utah -- Dec. 28, 8:30 p.m.: It's hard to know what kind of Indiana will show up following the dismissal of Kevin Wilson, but if the Hoosiers show up ready to play, they could give Kyle Whittingham's bowl record a real test.
20. Armed Forces Bowl -- Louisiana Tech vs. No. 25 Navy -- Dec. 23, 4:30 p.m.: Louisiana Tech's had a sturdy run defense this season, allowing only 3.68 yards per carry, but it hasn't really had to deal with anything like what Navy will be throwing at it. This one could get shootout-y.
19. Liberty Bowl -- TCU vs. Georgia -- Dec. 30, 12 p.m.: Here's the thing about this game. Both teams have talent, and both teams failed to live up to their own expectations this season. So the hope is that both are motivated to end the year on a high note. If that happens, we could have a very fun game on our hands.
18. Boca Raton Bowl -- Memphis vs. Western Kentucky -- Dec. 20, 7 p.m.: WKU coach Jeff Brohm won't be around for this game as he's off to Purdue. Even so, these are two offenses that like to move quickly and run a lot of plays. I'd advise setting aside at least four hours for this one, because it's going to last a while.
17. Pinstripe Bowl -- Northwestern vs. No. 23 Pitt -- Dec. 28, 2 p.m.: Pitt and Northwestern just tend to play a lot of close games, even if they both tend to take very different routes getting there. It will be an interesting clash of styles, one that should be quite entertaining.
16. Music City Bowl -- Nebraska vs. No. 21 Tennessee -- Dec. 30, 3:30 p.m.: For a few hours on a late December afternoon, two fan bases will descend upon the city of Nashville and live their greatest dream: pretending it's still the 90s.
15. Texas Bowl -- Kansas State vs. Texas A&M -- Dec. 28, 9 p.m.: An old Big 12 matchup as the Wildcats and Aggies reunite. This is one of those games between a couple of solid teams that maybe doesn't look all that sexy at first but could prove to be a thriller.
14. Camellia Bowl -- Toledo vs. Appalachian State -- Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m.: This situation is always a dilemma for me. I like seeing good Group of Five teams get shots at Power Five opponents to see if they can prove themselves, but I also like seeing when they're pitted against one another in bowl games. It's like two underdogs trying to prove they're the underdog-iest, and it has all the makings of a great game.
13. Holiday Bowl -- Washington State vs. Minnesota -- Dec. 27, 7 p.m.: A couple of Power Five teams that have been good the last couple of years but are always overlooked. They both have their own styles, and they're both good at what they do. As soon as I saw this matchup, I knew it was going to be near the top of these rankings.
12. Hyundai Sun Bowl -- North Carolina vs. No. 18 Stanford -- Dec. 30, 2 p.m.: Remember what Baylor did to North Carolina's run defense in the bowl game last season? Well, now that same run defense gets to go against the Stanford offensive line and Christian McCaffery. We could see one helluva show here because the Tar Heels' offense is rather potent itself.
11. Outback Bowl -- No. 17 Florida vs. Iowa -- Jan. 2, 1 p.m.: This game should be ugly, but sometimes ugly is good. I don't expect a lot of points, and I don't expect a bunch of big plays. What I do expect is a lot of angry football and two teams fighting in a close game for four quarters. May the best punter win.
10. Russell Athletic Bowl -- Miami vs. No. 16 West Virginia -- Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m.: The Mountaineers struggled with the two Oklahoma schools in conference play, but don't get it twisted, this is still a good team. And Miami, for all of its failures to ever exceed expectations, has plenty of talent on its roster. There's a good chance this one is lit.
9. Las Vegas Bowl -- Houston vs. San Diego State -- Dec. 17, 3:30 p.m.: Year in and year out the Las Vegas Bowl always finds itself with a great matchup. This season is no different as Houston (minus Tom Herman) gets to take on the Mountain West champions. These are two good teams that should provide a compelling game.
8. Citrus Bowl -- No. 20 LSU vs. No. 13 Louisville -- Dec. 31, 11 a.m.: Lamar Jackson faded a bit toward the end of the season, but I'd still bet that he's Heisman Trophy-winning Lamar Jackson by the time this game is played, and he'll have a chance to attack what is a very good defense. That matchup alone makes this one a must-watch.
7. Alamo Bowl -- No. 12 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Colorado -- Dec. 29, 9 p.m.: This is just a game featuring two good teams that match up pretty well with one another. Colorado has been one of my favorite teams to watch all season long, and Oklahoma State is a team that can make any game interesting.
6. Sugar Bowl -- No. 7 Oklahoma vs. No. 14 Auburn -- Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m.: This game lacks a little flair on the surface just because Alabama was the only good SEC team this year, so we get a Big 12 champion Oklahoma taking on an 8-4 Auburn. But it's also an 8-4 Auburn with a month to prepare, as well as an Oklahoma team that can put up points in a hurry. I'm not sure what the number will be for this one, but I'm already leaning toward the over.
5. Cotton Bowl -- No. 15 Western Michigan vs. No. 8 Wisconsin -- Jan. 2, 1 p.m.: Twice this season P.J. Fleck and Western Michigan have rowed their boats across Lake Michigan to beat Northwestern and Illinois. Now, once again, the Broncos will take on a Big Ten team from the other side of Lake Michigan, but this time they'll fly the plane down to Texas to do it. This game could be an absolute blowout, or it could be an epic upset. Either way, I want to watch it to see what happens.
4. Orange Bowl -- No. 11 Florida State vs. No. 6 Michigan -- Dec. 30, 8 p.m.: I'm sure plenty of people envisioned this matchup as a possible CFP semifinal before the season began. While neither team made it that far, this is still a really exciting pairing. Two powerful programs looking to make a statement heading into 2017.
3. Rose Bowl -- No. 5 Penn State vs. No. 9. USC -- Jan. 2, 5 p.m.: Once it became clear that Penn State would be in the Rose Bowl, I was hoping that it would be facing Colorado. That isn't what happened, but it's really hard to complain about a Rose Bowl matchup against USC. These are both teams that got off to slow starts and then tore things up down the home stretch.
2. Fiesta Bowl -- No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Ohio State -- Dec. 31, 8:30 p.m.: A rematch of the 2014 Orange Bowl. If you don't remember that one, Clemson beat Ohio State 40-35 in an awesome game. If we can get that kind of contest again, that would be just fine with me.
1. Peach Bowl -- No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Washington -- Dec. 31, 3 p.m.: Here's the thing. I never expect Alabama to lose anymore because it just happens so rarely. I don't expect Alabama to lose this game either, but -- BUT! -- giving Chris Petersen a month to prepare for an opponent has led to very surprising results in major bowl games in the past.
College Football Playoff Standings 2016: Week 14 Rankings, Bowl Game Projections
On the final Tuesday before Selection Sunday, the selection committee for the College Football Playoff rankings had a few more tricks up its sleeve.
Florida looked terrible in a loss to Florida State and didn't move a single spot, remaining at No. 15 in advance of the SEC championship game. Utah lost to Colorado and actually moved up two spots to No. 20.
Granted, seven of the nine teams ranked Nos. 15-23 suffered losses this past week, so there weren't many teams chomping at the bit to leapfrog Florida and Utah. Still, it was curious to see them basically get rewarded for losses.
But in the Top 10, there weren't any big shockers.
Michigan dropped from No. 3 to No. 5 after a double overtime loss at Ohio State. We'll get into this debate more in a bit, but it's possible the Wolverines still get in, even without a Clemson loss in the ACC championship game.
The only other change in the Top 10 was Colorado's jumping ahead of idle Oklahoma to No. 8 for beating Utah. The Buffaloes are still more than a stone's throw away from the Top 4, but they have a much better shot than the Big 12 does. Even if Clemson and Washington both lose, it's impossible to envision a scenario where either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State gets into the national semifinals.
But what are all the possible scenarios remaining? Who will play in the other New Year's Six games? And wouldn't it be a hoot if 5-7 Texas gets invited to a bowl game after all the coaching drama it has endured in the past three months?
With just a handful of games remaining, here are your projections for all 40 bowl games, starting with the big ones.
As long as Clemson doesn't lose to Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game, you can just about lock up those top three seeds and throw away the key.
Even if Alabama somehow loses to Florida by four touchdowns, the Crimson Tide should remain the No. 1 team in the College Football Playoff. Despite an ugly year for the rest of the SEC, Alabama still holds nine wins over bowl teams, including a season-opening blowout of seemingly every analyst's new favorite team: USC.
Clemson also has nine wins over bowl teams and would get to 10 by beating Virginia Tech. Granted, their only win over a projected New Year's Six team was a nail-biter against Florida State. However, putting Clemson at No. 2 and Ohio State at No. 3 would be a dastardly way for the CFP selection committee to say that winning a conference championship does actually matter, even though the only difference in this case would be jersey color.
Speaking of the Buckeyes, their regular season is over, but wins over Michigan, Wisconsin and Oklahoma all but guarantee they'll be in the national semifinals. Maybe the committee will even get a little cute and put Ohio State at No. 4 behind either Penn State or Washington, but only if it's really adamant about delivering a message on the importance of winning a conference championship. Either way, this team will be in the playoff.
The fourth and final spot is where all the uncertainty lies, but let's clear that up by listing the three possible scenarios:
|Non-Playoff New Year's Six Games|
|Orange Bowl||Dec. 30||Florida State (9-3) vs. Wisconsin (10-2)|
|Rose Bowl||Jan. 2||Michigan (10-2) vs. Washington (11-1)|
|Sugar Bowl||Jan. 2||Auburn (8-4) vs. Oklahoma (9-2)|
|Cotton Bowl||Jan. 2||Western Michigan (12-0) vs. USC (9-3)|
1) If Penn State beats Wisconsin, it gets the fourth and final spot.
Washington fans will have a hard time swallowing this pill if the Huskies improve to 12-1 with a win over Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game, but that win would merely nullify Penn State's win over the Badgers. Washington doesn't have a win that even remotely compares to Penn State's upset of Ohio State. In fact, Washington's only victory thus far over a team with at least nine wins was a home game against Stanford in which Christian McCaffrey was injured.
Moreover, winning the Big Ten title is much more impressive than winning the Pac-12 title, as the former has 10 bowl-eligible teams to the latter's six—and Washington didn't even beat either the second- or third-best team in the Pac-12 (USC and Colorado) during the regular season.
Michigan fans will also have a tough time coming to grips with this one since the Wolverines beat the Nittany Lions 49-10 back in September, but that was a lifetime ago. Penn State hasn't lost since. Michigan has lost two of its last three games and didn't win a game away from home against a team that finished the season with more than three wins. U of M's wins over Colorado, Wisconsin and Penn State are great, but they don't help them here.
|Other Bowl Games|
|Camellia Bowl||Dec. 17||Troy (9-2) vs. Toledo (9-3)|
|Cure Bowl||Dec. 17||Memphis (8-4) vs. Appalachian State (9-3)|
|Las Vegas Bowl||Dec. 17||Wyoming (8-4) vs. Mississippi State (5-7)|
|New Mexico Bowl||Dec. 17||New Mexico (8-4) vs. North Texas (5-7)|
|New Orleans Bowl||Dec. 17||Arkansas State (6-5) vs. Southern Miss (6-6)|
|Miami Beach Bowl||Dec. 19||UCF (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)|
|Boca Raton Bowl||Dec. 20||Tulsa (9-3) vs. Ohio (8-4)|
|Poinsettia Bowl||Dec. 21||BYU (8-4) vs. San Diego State (9-3)|
|Famous Idaho Potato Bowl||Dec. 22||Colorado State (7-5) vs. Miami OH (6-6)|
|Armed Forces Bowl||Dec. 23||Navy (9-2) vs. Texas (5-7)|
|Bahamas Bowl||Dec. 23||Old Dominion (9-3) vs. E Michigan (7-5)|
|Dollar General Bowl||Dec. 23||South Alabama (5-6) vs. C. Michigan (6-6)|
|Hawaii Bowl||Dec. 24||Hawaii (6-7) vs. Western Kentucky (9-3)|
|Independence Bowl||Dec. 26||South Carolina (6-6) vs. Georgia Tech (8-4)|
|Quick Lane Bowl||Dec. 26||N.C. State (6-6) vs. Middle Tennessee (8-4)|
|St. Petersburg Bowl||Dec. 26||Wake Forest (6-6) vs. South Florida (10-2)|
|Cactus Bowl||Dec. 27||TCU (6-5) vs. Air Force (9-3)|
|Heart of Dallas Bowl||Dec. 27||UTSA (6-6) vs. Army (6-5)|
|Holiday Bowl||Dec. 27||Stanford (9-3) vs. Minnesota (8-4)|
|Military Bowl||Dec. 27||Temple (9-3) vs. Boston College (6-6)|
|Foster Farms Bowl||Dec. 28||Utah (8-4) vs. Northwestern (6-6)|
|Pinstripe Bowl||Dec. 28||Pitt (8-4) vs. Maryland (6-6)|
|Russell Athletic Bowl||Dec. 28||Louisville (9-3) vs. West Virginia (9-2)|
|Texas Bowl||Dec. 28||Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Baylor (6-5)|
|Alamo Bowl||Dec. 29||Colorado (10-2) vs. Oklahoma State (9-2)|
|Belk Bowl||Dec. 29||North Carolina (8-4) vs. Arkansas (7-5)|
|Birmingham Bowl||Dec. 29||Houston (9-3) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)|
|Arizona Bowl||Dec. 30||Boise State (10-2) vs. Idaho (7-4)|
|Liberty Bowl||Dec. 30||Georgia (7-5) vs. Kansas State (7-4)|
|Music City Bowl||Dec. 30||Indiana (6-6) vs. LSU (7-4)|
|Sun Bowl||Dec. 30||Virginia Tech (9-3) vs. Wash. State (8-4)|
|Citrus Bowl||Dec. 31||Iowa (8-4) vs. Tennessee (8-4)|
|TaxSlayer Bowl||Dec. 31||Miami FL (8-4) vs. Kentucky (7-5)|
|Outback Bowl||Jan. 2||Florida (8-3) vs. Nebraska (9-3)|
2) If Washington beats Colorado and Wisconsin beats Penn State, the Huskies get in.
That win over Ohio State that serves as an effective tiebreaker between Penn State and Washington? Wisconsin doesn't have it. In fact, the Badgers don't have any wins over teams currently in the AP Top 20.
Wisconsin's resume was irreparably damaged by things completely out of its control in recent weeks. Akron finished the season on a four-game losing streak and failed to become bowl-eligible, so that Week 2 blowout of the Zips doesn't look as good as it could have. LSU lost to Florida and temporarily fell out of the CFP Top 25. In the end, the Tigers only won two games this season against teams over .500, which means Wisconsin's Week 1 victory doesn't smell quite as sweet as it once did either.
The big blow, though, was Nebraska's getting blown out by Iowa this week. No one ever fully bought in on the Cornhuskers as a CFP contender, but they were sitting at 9-2 with the only blemishes coming on the road against Wisconsin and Ohio State. But the Hawkeyes exposed them as a paper tiger and devalued Wisconsin's overtime win over them.
Two weeks ago, Wisconsin's chances of getting in over a one-loss Washington looked good. Not so much now.
3) If Colorado beats Washington and Wisconsin beats Penn State, Michigan gets in.
Sorry, Colorado, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but unless a Clemson loss opens the door for two more teams to get in, the College Football Playoff isn't in the cards for you. Feel free to start your campaigning for an expansion to a six- or eight-team playoff whenever you're ready.
The Buffaloes do have wins over Utah, Washington State and Stanford, but they don't hold a candle to Michigan's wins over Penn State, Wisconsin and Colorado. Even if we add in a win over Washington and compare their top four wins to Michigan's top three, it's not that close. The Buffaloes would have a conference championship in their back pocket, but it's unlikely that would trump Michigan's beating them head-to-head earlier this season.
As far as Wisconsin vs. Michigan is concerned, it's a similar argument. Even if the Badgers beat Penn State, that would only negate one of Michigan's top wins and would do nothing to undo Wisconsin's head-to-head loss to Michigan. All three of Michigan's non-conference wins (Hawaii, UCF and Colorado) were blowouts against bowl teams, while Wisconsin only has that close win over LSU to boast.
In the first two years of the College Football Playoff, we saw nothing but conference champions. Thus, it's maybe a little crazy to suggest that both Ohio State and Michigan will get in without the Big Ten title. However, in both of those years, those four conference champions were either undefeated or one-loss teams with a decent stockpile of quality wins.
In this scenario, though, we're talking about Colorado and Wisconsin, who each have two losses and who wouldn't score a marquee win until these championship games. The Wolverines are by no means a lock to get in ahead of those resumes, but with head-to-head wins over both, it's hard not to like their chances.
We're projecting a Penn State win and scenario No. 1, but tune in for the Big Ten and Pac-12 championship games to see which one of these combinations comes to fruition. (Also, keep an eye on the ACC game in case Clemson decides to throw a wrench into everything with a loss.)
For the sake of argument and bowl projections, here are the noteworthy Week 14 outcomes that we're expecting: Alabama beats Florida, Clemson beats Virginia Tech, Penn State beats Wisconsin, Washington beats Colorado, Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State and Western Michigan beats Ohio.
According to OddsShark, five of those six games have a spread of at least one touchdown while the Big Ten championship game is effectively a pick'em. We're not exactly going out on a limb with those assumptions. Although, the safest assumption in this sport is probably that at least one of the big favorites ends up wearing an L.
But if those six games play out as expected, these should be your New Year's Six pairings.
Even if the Week 14 crystal ball is correct, the toughest spots to figure out are the ACC representative in the Orange Bowl and the SEC representative in the Sugar Bowl.
Louisville beat the snot out of Florida State back in mid-September, but would you believe the Cardinals are 0-3 against all other teams that finished the season above .500? Meanwhile, the Seminoles have scored wins over South Florida (10-2), Florida (8-3) and Miami (8-4). They also beat 7-4 FCS school Charleston Southern and beat Ole Miss back before anyone could have possibly known that team was going to go 5-7.
At what point does the head-to-head blowout disappear to give way to the better overall resume? The AP voters have Florida State at No. 12 and Louisville at No. 16, so it's clear who they think is more deserving for the Orange Bowl.
But at least the ACC is just a two-horse race. After Alabama, the SEC is one big cluster of four- and five-loss teams.
As the only three-loss team in the conference, Florida would likely get the spot in the Sugar Bowl if its season ended today. But the Gators only have one quality win all season (at LSU) and are staring down the barrel of a multiple-touchdown loss to the Crimson Tide on Saturday. Unless they shock us with a win or a very competitive loss, they'll be out of the picture by Selection Sunday.
That leaves Tennessee, Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU. Given how poorly Tennessee and Texas A&M played down the stretch, though, we can probably rule them both out and just focus on the two sets of Tigers. And at that point, Auburn's head-to-head win over an LSU team with only two wins against teams above .500 would seem to be enough to break any sort of tie.
Lastly, if you're a fan of USC or you simply want to see one of the best teams in the country play in a New Year's Six game, you're pulling for Washington in the Pac-12 title game. If the Huskies win, it would almost certainly leave USC ahead of the Buffaloes in the CFP rankings, at which point the Trojans would be in prime position to claim the at-large spot in the Cotton Bowl.
In fact, a Washington win may even push the Huskies into the College Football Playoff, leaving USC as the Pac-12's representative in the Rose Bowl. And who doesn't want to see a Michigan vs. USC game right about now?
However, if Colorado beats Washington, it's possible the Trojans remain third in the Pac-12 pecking order and get left out of the New Year's games altogether—which is bad news for all of us. It would mean an insufferable number of days and weeks of talking heads complaining about the selection process for marquee bowl games, since all of the analysts have decided that USC is the second-best team in the country behind Alabama.
|College Football Playoff Projection|
|Peach Bowl||Dec. 31||No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Penn State|
|Fiesta Bowl||Dec. 31||No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Ohio State|
The conference championship games are going to get all of the attention this weekend, but the best story line to watch might be in the Sun Belt and, by proxy, the Big 12.
There are 76 teams with at least six wins and two more with a chance to get there: South Alabama hosts 3-8 New Mexico State and Louisiana-Lafayette travels to Louisiana-Monroe. Either way, there will be at least two 5-7 teams invited to a bowl game with the possibility of as many as four.
With an APR score of 984, North Texas has the right of first refusal. The next two schools on the list are Texas and Mississippi State at 971, though Mississippi State holds the tiebreaker because of an edge in most recent single-year APR score (970 vs. 968). And if a fourth team is necessary, Northern Illinois has dibs at 970.
The first big question is whether South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette will even give Texas and Northern Illinois the chance to dance at 5-7. Both are heavy favorites, but they're 5-6 for a reason.
Next, would Texas accept a bowl invitation anyway? The Longhorns have already fired Charlie Strong and will probably get rid of the rest of his staff to clean house for new head coach Tom Herman. They would have a couple of weeks to practice, but would that be enough to get prepared? Would they accept the bid regardless as a service to their 17 seniors?
Here's the other kicker in play: If Louisiana-Monroe beats Louisiana-Lafayette to improve to 5-7, it would be fifth in the APR pecking order with a score of 967. If South Alabama and ULL both lose and Texas declines a bowl invite, ULM would get to go bowling without a single win over a FBS team that finished the season .500 or better.
So, who's ready for some Fun Belt?
2016 NCAA Division I FBS football rankings
- North Carolina
- Michigan State
- San Diego State
- North Carolina
- North Carolina
- Virginia Tech
- Boise State
- Texas A&M
- Washington State
College football’s bowl season is upon us. A full schedule is here.
There are 40 bowl games spread from Dec. 17 to Jan. 2, with the National Championship on Jan. 9. Unless you’re watching on multiple monitors and are really committed, you won’t catch all of them. (If that is your plan, more power to you.)
We’ve already sorted out a grid of the bowls based on their watchability. Now it’s time for a comprehensive ranking, 1 through 40.
To do this, I’ve tasked a group at SB Nation — Bill Connelly, Brian Floyd, Bud Elliott, Dan Rubenstein, Harry Lyles Jr., Jason Kirk, Jeanna Thomas, Luke Zimmermann, Matt Brown, Morgan Moriarty, Richard Johnson, Ryan Nanni, and me — to rank the games on a 1-to-5 scale: a 1 means you probably won’t watch (unless it’s your job to do so) and a 5 means you’re captivated.
All of our numerical rankings have been averaged into composite scores for each game. Let us know if we’ve oversold or undersold any particular games. All times are Eastern.
The games to absolutely, undoubtedly watch
Fiesta Bowl semifinal, Ohio State vs. Clemson. Dec. 31, 7 p.m, ESPN.
Watchability score: a perfect 5
Peach Bowl semifinal, Washington vs. Alabama. Dec. 31, 3 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 4.8
Orange Bowl, Florida State vs. Michigan. Dec. 30, 8 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 4.8
Citrus Bowl, Louisville vs. LSU. Dec. 31, 11 a.m., ABC.
Watchability score: 4.8
Rose Bowl, Penn State vs. USC. Jan. 2, 5 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 4.8
These are games you’d expect: the Playoff and other New Year’s Six fare. But the Citrus Bowl has broken through to the top rung, too. Lamar Jackson trying to solve LSU’s athletic defense in a game between two programs who haven’t played each other in their history? Yes, that dog will hunt. The Fiesta Bowl semifinal gets top billing, because it figures to be more competitive than the semifinal that happens to involve Alabama.
Really good options, and you’d hate to miss them
Alamo Bowl, Colorado vs. Oklahoma State. Dec. 29, 9 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 4.5
Cotton Bowl, Wisconsin vs. Western Michigan. Jan. 2, 1 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 4.1
Russell Athletic Bowl, Miami vs. West Virginia. Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 3.8
Sugar Bowl, Oklahoma vs. Auburn. Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 3.8
Belk Bowl, Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas. Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 3.6
Las Vegas Bowl, Houston vs. San Diego State. Dec. 17, 3:30 p.m., ABC.
Watchability score: 3.5
The Alamo is going to be great. Colorado and Oklahoma State are both fun. WMU is repping the Group of 5 in the Cotton Bowl, taking a gorgeous offense to play a tough Wisconsin defense after already going 2-0 against the Badgers’ division. The Belk Bowl’s got some zest to it. The Cinderella in this classification is easily the Vegas, with a pair of enjoyable non-power teams.
Completely fine viewing options
Poinsettia Bowl, BYU vs. Wyoming. Dec. 21, 9 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 3.4
Armed Forces Bowl, Navy vs. Louisiana Tech. Dec. 23, 4:30 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 3.2
Texas Bowl, Kansas State vs. Texas A&M. Dec. 28, 9 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 3.2
Holiday Bowl, Minnesota vs. Washington State. Dec. 27, 7 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 3.2
Sun Bowl, North Carolina vs. Stanford. Dec. 30, 2 p.m., CBS.
Watchability score: 3.2
Boca Raton Bowl, Memphis vs. WKU. Dec. 20, 7 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 3.0
Birmingham Bowl, South Carolina vs. USF. Dec. 29, 2 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 2.9
Camellia Bowl, Toledo vs. Appalachian State. Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 2.8
Music City Bowl, Nebraska vs. Tennessee. Dec. 30, 3:30 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 2.8
Liberty Bowl, TCU vs. Georgia. Dec. 30, noon, ESPN.
Watchability score: 2.8
Taxslayer Bowl, Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky. Dec. 31, 11 a.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 2.8
Pinstripe Bowl, Pitt vs. Northwestern. Dec. 28, 2 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 2.6
Everything here is fine. The Poinsettia should be good, because BYU plays close games and Wyoming is all-around enjoyable. The Holiday is a conflict of styles, with groundish-and-poundish Minnesota up against Mike Leach’s air raid. Say hello to the Camellia, which pits a low-key good Toledo against a low-key good Appalachian State. That Armed Forces matchup screams offense, too. I don’t get how TCU-Georgia wound up this high in the year 2016, but we live in a democracy.
The hunt for diamonds in the rough
Foster Farms Bowl, Indiana vs. Utah. Dec. 28, 8:30 p.m., FOX.
Watchability score: 2.4
Cactus Bowl, Baylor vs. Boise State. Dec. 27, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN.
Watchability score: 2.2
Bahamas Bowl, Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion. Dec. 23, 1 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 2.2
Cure Bowl, UCF vs. Arkansas State. Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m., CBSSN.
Watchability score: 2.1
Miami Beach Bowl, Tulsa vs. Central Michigan. Dec. 19, 2:30 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 2.1
Potato Bowl, Idaho vs. Colorado State. Dec. 22, 7 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 2.0
Dollar General Bowl, Ohio vs. Troy. Dec. 23, 8 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 2.0
New Mexico Bowl, UTSA vs. New Mexico. Dec. 17, 2 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 1.8
Independence Bowl, NC State vs. Vanderbilt. Dec. 26, 5 p.m., ESPN2.
Watchability score: 1.8
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Army vs. North Texas. Dec. 27, noon, ESPN.
Watchability score: 1.8
Hawaii Bowl, Middle Tennessee vs. Hawaii. Dec. 24, 8 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 1.7
Military Bowl, Wake Forest vs. Temple. Dec. 27, 3:30 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 1.7
Arizona Bowl, Air Force vs. South Alabama. Dec. 30, 5:30 p.m., Campus Insiders.
Watchability score: 1.6
New Orleans Bowl. Southern Miss vs. UL Lafayette. Dec. 17, 9 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 1.5
St. Pete Bowl, Mississippi State vs. Miami (Ohio). Dec. 26, 11 a.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: 1.5
If you skip any of these, you’re not going to trudge into work the next day and feel like an outcast. But several will wind up being worthwhile. Baylor-Boise State could have infinite points scored, which could be good.
Hey, these are also football games
Outback Bowl, Florida vs. Iowa. Jan. 2, 1 p.m., ABC.
Watchability score: 1.2
Quick Lane Bowl, Maryland vs. Boston College. Dec. 26, 2:30 p.m., ESPN.
Watchability score: a perfect 1
At least your free steakhouse appetizer hinges on the Florida-Iowa result. I went to Maryland, and I can’t muster the strength to tell you to watch the Quick Lane. But it is a football game, and that’s a point in its favor.
In This Stream
Bahamas Bowl 2016, EMU vs. Old Dominion: Monarchs make school historyView all 10 stories Sours: https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2016/12/12/13883252/full-bowl-schedule-2016-best-games
2016 bowl rankings
2016–17 NCAA football bowl games
The 2016–17 NCAA football bowl games were a series of college footballbowl games which completed the 2016 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The games began on December 17, 2016, and aside from the all-star games ended with the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship which was played on January 9, 2017.
The total of 41 team-competitive postseason games in FBS, including the national championship game, was unchanged from the previous year. While bowl games had been the purview of only the very best teams for nearly a century, this was the eleventh consecutive year that teams with non-winning seasons participated in bowl games. To fill the 80 available team-competitive bowl slots, a new record of 20 teams (25% of all participants) with non-winning seasons participated in bowl games—17 had a .500 (6–6) season, and three losing teams with sub-.500 records (one 6–7 and two 5–7). This was the fifth time in six years that teams with actual losing records were invited to bowl games. None of the six teams that played in bowls on December 26 had a winning record.
The schedule for the 2016–17 bowl games are below. All times are EST (UTC−5).
College Football Playoff and Championship Game
The College Football Playoff system was used to determine a national champion of Division I FBS college football. A 13-member committee of experts ranked the top 25 teams in the nation after each of the last seven weeks of the 2016 season. The top four teams in the final ranking then played a single-elimination semifinal round, with the winners advancing to the National Championship game.
The semi-final games were held at the Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl as part of a yearly rotation of three pairs of six bowls. Their winners advanced to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on January 9, 2017. As with the 2015 season, the two semi-final bowls were held on New Year's Eve (Saturday, December 31, 2016), as the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl are guaranteed exclusive TV time slots on January 2 if New Year's Day fell on a Sunday (there is a gentleman's agreement to not play New Year's Day bowl games against NFL games, which are played as usual when New Year's Day falls on a Sunday), regardless of whether they will be hosting a semifinal game.
To reduce the impact of the semi-final games' New Year's Eve scheduling—a factor that led to lower viewership of the 2015 semi-finals in comparison to 2014, it was announced on March 8, 2016, that the kickoff times of the two bowls would be pushed forward to 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm ET. CFP commissioner Bill Hancock suggested that starting the games earlier would allow viewers to partake in both the CFP games and New Year's festivities. As the earlier start intrudes on the early afternoon window for New Year's Six games, the 2016 Orange Bowl was instead held as a primetime game on December 30, 2016. As a result, the "New Year's Six" bowls were stretched across a period of four days, rather than two consecutive days of three games each. In July 2016, Hancock announced that future semi-finals, when not hosted by the Rose and Sugar Bowl games, will generally be held on the final Saturday of the year.
Of the Power Five conferences, The Big Ten was represented with four teams in the New Year's Six, whereas the ACC, SEC and Pac-12 had two teams each. The Big 12 was again left out of the semifinals, and had just one team in the New Year's Six. The Group of 5 was represented by the MAC.
Non-CFP bowl games
On April 11, 2016, the NCAA announced a freeze on new bowl games until after the 2019 season. While bowl games had been the purview of only the very best teams for nearly a century, the NCAA had to lower its postseason eligibility criteria repeatedly (2006, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013), eventually allowing teams with losing records (5–7) to participate in bowls due to there being not enough bowl-eligible teams, while also having to allow teams from the same (Mountain West) conference to meet in the 2015 Arizona Bowl due to the lack of eligible teams to meet its other tie-ins. For the 2016–17 bowl season, 63% of the 128 teams playing in Division I FBS were deemed eligible and received invites to fill the 80 available slots.
Prior to the moratorium, multiple new bowl games were proposed for or approved to begin play in 2016, including one in Myrtle Beach, the Medal of Honor Bowl (which planned to convert itself from an all-star game to a sanctioned bowl after the NCAA lifted its ban on postseason championships at pre-determined locations in South Carolina), the Sun Belt/American Austin Bowl, and a Mountain West/Pac-12 bowl in Melbourne, Australia. The Sun Belt subsequently announced that it would become a new primary tie-in for the Arizona Bowl.
|Dec. 17||New Mexico Bowl||University Stadium|
|ESPN||New Mexico Lobos (8–4)|
UTSA Roadrunners (6–6)
|New Mexico 23|
|Las Vegas Bowl||Sam Boyd Stadium|
|ABC||San Diego State Aztecs (10–3)|
Houston Cougars (9–3)
|San Diego State 34|
|Camellia Bowl||Cramton Bowl|
|ESPN||Appalachian State Mountaineers (9–3)|
Toledo Rockets (9–3)
|Appalachian State 31|
|Cure Bowl||Camping World Stadium|
|CBSSN||Arkansas State Red Wolves (7–5)|
UCF Knights (6–6)
|Arkansas State 31|
|New Orleans Bowl||Mercedes-Benz Superdome|
New Orleans, LA
|ESPN||Southern Miss Golden Eagles (6–6)|
Louisiana–Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (6–6)
|Southern Miss 28|
|Dec. 19||Miami Beach Bowl||Marlins Park|
|ESPN||Tulsa Golden Hurricane (9–3)|
Central Michigan Chippewas (6–6)
Central Michigan 10
|Dec. 20||Boca Raton Bowl||FAU Stadium|
Boca Raton, FL
|ESPN||WKU Hilltoppers (10–3)|
Memphis Tigers (8–4)
|Dec. 21||Poinsettia Bowl||SDCCU Stadium|
San Diego, CA
|ESPN||BYU Cougars (8–4)|
Wyoming Cowboys (8–5)
|Dec. 22||Famous Idaho Potato Bowl||Albertsons Stadium|
|ESPN||Idaho Vandals (8–4)|
Colorado State Rams (7–5)
Colorado State 50
|Dec. 23||Bahamas Bowl||Thomas Robinson Stadium|
|ESPN||Old Dominion Monarchs (9–3)|
Eastern Michigan Eagles (7–5)
|Old Dominion 24|
Eastern Michigan 20
|Armed Forces Bowl||Amon G. Carter Stadium|
Fort Worth, TX
|ESPN||Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8–5)|
#25 Navy Midshipmen (9–4)
|Louisiana Tech 48|
|Dollar General Bowl||Ladd–Peebles Stadium|
|ESPN||Troy Trojans (9–3)|
Ohio Bobcats (8–5)
|Dec. 24||Hawaiʻi Bowl||Aloha Stadium|
|ESPN||Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (6–7)|
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8–4)
Middle Tennessee 35
|Dec. 26||St. Petersburg Bowl||Tropicana Field|
St. Petersburg, FL
|ESPN||Mississippi State Bulldogs (5–7)|
Miami RedHawks (6–6)
|Mississippi State 17|
Miami (OH) 16
|Quick Lane Bowl||Ford Field|
|ESPN||Boston College Eagles (6–6)|
Maryland Terrapins (6–6)
|Boston College 36|
|Independence Bowl||Independence Stadium|
|ESPN2||NC State Wolfpack (6–6)|
Vanderbilt Commodores (6–6)
|NC State 41|
|Dec. 27||Heart of Dallas Bowl||Cotton Bowl|
|ESPN||Army Black Knights (7–5)|
North Texas Mean Green (5–7)
North Texas 31 (OT)
|Military Bowl||Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium|
|ESPN||Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6–6)|
#24 Temple Owls (10–3)
|Wake Forest 34|
|Holiday Bowl||SDCCU Stadium|
San Diego, CA
|ESPN||Minnesota Golden Gophers (8–4)|
Washington State Cougars (8–4)
Washington State 12
|Cactus Bowl||Chase Field|
|ESPN||Baylor Bears (6–6)|
Boise State Broncos (10–2)
Boise State 12
|Dec. 28||Pinstripe Bowl||Yankee Stadium|
|ESPN||Northwestern Wildcats (6–6)|
#23 Pittsburgh Panthers (8–4)
|Russell Athletic Bowl||Camping World Stadium|
|ESPN||Miami Hurricanes (8–4)|
#16 West Virginia Mountaineers (10–2)
|Miami (FL) 31|
West Virginia 14
|Foster Farms Bowl||Levi's Stadium|
Santa Clara, CA
|Fox||#19 Utah Utes (8–4)|
Indiana Hoosiers (6–6)
|Texas Bowl||NRG Stadium|
|ESPN||Kansas State Wildcats (8–4)|
Texas A&M Aggies (8–4)
|Kansas State 33|
Texas A&M 28
|Dec. 29||Birmingham Bowl||Legion Field|
|ESPN||South Florida Bulls (10–2)|
South Carolina Gamecocks (6–6)
|South Florida 46|
South Carolina 39 (OT)
|Belk Bowl||Bank of America Stadium|
|ESPN||#22 Virginia Tech Hokies (9–4)|
Arkansas Razorbacks (7–5)
|Virginia Tech 35|
San Antonio, TX
|ESPN||#12 Oklahoma State Cowboys (9–3)|
#10 Colorado Buffaloes (10–3)
|Oklahoma State 38|
|Dec. 30||Liberty Bowl||Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium|
Georgia Bulldogs (7–5)
|Sun Bowl||Sun Bowl Stadium|
El Paso, TX
|CBS||#18 Stanford Cardinal (9–3)|
North Carolina Tar Heels (8–4)
North Carolina 23
|Music City Bowl||Nissan Stadium|
|ESPN||#21 Tennessee Volunteers (8–4)|
Nebraska Cornhuskers (9–3)
|Arizona Bowl||Arizona Stadium|
|ASN||Air Force Falcons (9–3)|
South Alabama Jaguars (6–6)
|Air Force 45|
South Alabama 21
|Dec. 31||Citrus Bowl||Camping World Stadium|
|ABC||#20 LSU Tigers (7–4)|
#13 Louisville Cardinals (9–3)
|TaxSlayer Bowl||EverBank Field|
|ESPN||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8–4)|
Kentucky Wildcats (7–5)
|Georgia Tech 33|
|Jan. 2||Outback Bowl||Raymond James Stadium|
|ABC||#17 Florida Gators (8–4)|
Iowa Hawkeyes (8–4)
FCS bowl game
The FCS has one bowl game; they also have a championship bracket that began on November 26 and ended on January 7.
Selection of the teams
CFP top 25 teams
On December 4, 2016, the College Football Playoff selection committee announced their final team rankings for the year:
In the third year of the College Football Playoff era, this was the first time that one of the four semifinalists (Ohio State) was not a conference champion.
Conference champions' bowl games
Only the Peach Bowl featured two conference champions playing against each other. Rankings are per the above CFP standings.
denotes a conference that named co-champions
- American (7): Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, Navy, South Florida, Temple, Tulsa
- ACC (11): Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami (FL), North Carolina, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
- Big Ten (10): Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
- Big 12 (6): Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, West Virginia
- Conference USA (7): Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, North Texas (qualified via APR score), Old Dominion, Southern Mississippi, UTSA, Western Kentucky
- Independent (2): Army, BYU
- MAC (6): Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan
- Mountain West (7): Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, Wyoming, Hawaii[A]
- Pac-12 (6): Colorado, Stanford, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State
- SEC (12): Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State (qualified via APR score), South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
- Sun Belt (6): Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Idaho, UL Lafayette, South Alabama[B], Troy
Number of bowl berths available: 80
Number of bowl-eligible teams: 76
Number of conditional bowl-eligible teams: 2 (Hawaii, South Alabama)
Number of teams qualified by APR: 2 (North Texas, Mississippi State)
Hawaii played 13 games (6–7), and thus has already qualified for the Hawaii Bowl because they hold priority over 5–7 teams.
South Alabama is 6–6 with two wins over Football Championship Subdivision opponents. Only one such win counts toward official bowl eligibility. South Alabama is conditionally bowl eligible and will play in a bowl game as there will be unfilled bowl berths. Originally, South Alabama was to play FBS Louisiana State University on November 19th, but LSU had to cancel that game to makeup their game against Florida, which was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. The game against the FCS Presbyterian Blue Hose was added to replace that game.
- The American (5): SMU, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Tulane
- ACC (3): Duke, Syracuse, Virginia
- Big Ten (4): Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue, Rutgers
- Big 12 (4): Texas, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas
- Conference USA (6): Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Marshall, Rice, UTEP
- Independent (2): Notre Dame, Massachusetts
- MAC (6): Akron, Northern Illinois, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State
- Mountain West (5): Nevada, Fresno State, San José State, Utah State, UNLV
- Pac-12 (6): Arizona State, California, Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA
- SEC (2): Missouri, Ole Miss
- Sun Belt (5): Georgia Southern, Louisiana–Monroe, Georgia State, New Mexico State, Texas State
Number of bowl-ineligible teams: 48
Note: Being bowl-ineligible does not, in itself, exclude a team from the chance to play in a bowl game. Tiebreaker procedures based on a school's Academic Progress Rate (APR) allowed for the possibility of 5–7 teams to play in bowl games since not enough teams qualified to fill all 80 spots with at least a 6–6 record.
- ^41 FBS bowl games, including the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, and 1 FCS bowl game.
- ^"Blues could host Blackhawks in 2017 Winter Classic". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
- ^"A daunting task: Can the CFP, ESPN change old New Year's Eve habits?". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. July 2, 2015. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- ^"College Football Playoff 101", ESPN, May 19, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
- ^ ab"Orange Bowl game is shifted to prime time on Dec. 30". Miami Herald. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- ^"The 2017 College Football Playoff will still be on New Year's Eve, but it'll start earlier". SB Nation. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- ^"College Football Playoff semis will only be on Saturdays or holidays". SI.com. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
- ^"College Football Playoff tweaks dates in upcoming seasons". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
- ^"Nebraska, Minnesota, San Jose St. taking 5–7 records to bowl". NCAA.com. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
- ^"NCAA approves three-year halt to new bowl games". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- ^ ab"NCAA moratorium means no bowl game for Myrtle Beach, for now". Myrtle Beach Online. Associated Press. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- ^Hartsell, Jeff (August 27, 2015). "Medal of Honor Bowl now a 'traditional' bowl game". The Post and Courier. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
- ^"Austin's bowl game hopes delayed to 2016". Austin Business Journal. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- ^"Etihad Stadium boss Paul Sergeant tips Australian college bowl to be a sellout". Fox Sports (AU). Fox Sports Pty Limited.
- ^"Melbourne Bowl 2016: Australia Set to Host Matchup Between Pac-12 and MWC". Bleacher Report. Turner Sports. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- ^"Australia Bowl: Organizer 'good to go' for 2016 game between Mountain West, Pac-12". MWConnection (SB Nation). Vox Media. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- ^"Sun Belt adds Arizona Bowl to postseason tie-in lineup". The Advertiser. Gannett Company. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
- ^Shirkey, Alec (December 4, 2016). "College Football Playoff Rankings: Final Top 25 Reminds Us Committee Can Do What It Wants". SEC Country. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
Final 2016-17 Power Rankings settle all the debates
The games have all been played and all debates have been settled, right? OK, maybe not all debates were settled, but the postseason did produce some incredibly fun games and definitive results. In light of that, these are our final Power Rankings for the 2016-17 season.
Power Rankings voters: Edward Aschoff, Heather Dinich, Brad Edwards, Chris Fallica, Rod Gilmore, Chris Low, Ivan Maisel, Ryan McGee, Adam Rittenberg, Mark Schlabach | How they voted
Previous rankings: Week 1| Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8| Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14
1. Clemson Tigers (14-1)
Week 14 ranking: 3
Bowl season result: defeated Ohio State 31-0 then Alabama 35-31
The national champions certainly earned the spot on the throne, dismantling Ohio State and then stunning Alabama in the College Football Playoff. Deshaun Watson may not have won the Heisman Trophy, but the Tigers may build a statue of the star quarterback anyway.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (14-1)
Week 14 ranking: 1
Bowl season result: defeated Washington 24-7 then lost to Clemson 35-31
It took a monumental effort to knock off the Crimson Tide and keep Nick Saban from making more history, and there's no shame in coming up short in an all-time epic showdown in the College Football Playoff. With Jalen Hurts getting his first taste of the postseason and nearly winning a national title, expect the Alabama quarterback to be back for more.
3. USC Trojans (10-3)
Week 14 ranking: 10
Bowl season result: defeated Penn State 52-49
There might not be a program heading into the offseason with more momentum than the Trojans, who pulled out their own thriller in the Rose Bowl victory over Penn State that might have put the nation on notice. Clay Helton has the ball rolling after those early missteps, and quarterback Sam Darnold is only getting started.
4. Washington Huskies (12-2)
Week 14 ranking: 4
Bowl season result: lost to Alabama 24-7
The Pac-12 champs didn't have the offensive firepower to hang with Alabama, but the Huskies still acquitted themselves well in a competitive Peach Bowl. Chris Petersen and Washington are officially back on the national scene as legitimate contenders.
5. Penn State Nittany Lions (11-3)
Week 14 ranking: 5
Bowl season result: lost to USC 52-49
The 10-game winning streak came to an end and the Nittany Lions didn't get to add another piece of hardware to the collection, but the Big Ten champions still have plenty to feel good about heading into next season. The way James Franklin's club rallied to get to the Rose Bowl will never be forgotten in Happy Valley.
6. Oklahoma Sooners (11-2)
Week 14 ranking: 7
Bowl season result: defeated Auburn 35-19
The Sooners would surely like a mulligan for September, but they did all they could to make up for those early losses down the stretch. Bob Stoops did a remarkable job turning around a season that could have been scrapped early, capping it with an impressive Sugar Bowl victory.
7. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2)
Week 14 ranking: 2
Bowl season result: lost to Clemson 31-0
The ending was certainly brutal for the Buckeyes, but it shouldn't overshadow what the nation's youngest team accomplished this season. After replacing 16 starters, Ohio State still got all the way back to the College Football Playoff -- and it won't have to deal with so much inexperience again in 2017.
8. Florida State Seminoles (10-3)
Week 14 ranking: 11
Bowl season result: defeated Michigan 33-32
The Seminoles were starting to tap into their immense potential at the end of the season, capping it with a thrilling victory over Michigan in the Orange Bowl that gave Jimbo Fisher another double-digit win total. The memory of the blowout at Louisville and the narrow defeat to Clemson might linger, but Florida State has reason to be both proud and optimistic.
9. Michigan Wolverines (10-3)
Week 14 ranking: 6
Bowl season result: lost to Florida State 33-32
Jim Harbaugh might find himself looking back and wondering what might have been for his Wolverines this season. A veteran team suffered another close loss in the Orange Bowl, with all three defeats coming by a combined total of five points to just keep Michigan out of title contention.
10. Wisconsin Badgers (11-3)
Week 14 ranking: 9
Bowl season result: defeated Western Michigan 24-16
After dealing with such a brutal schedule all year long, the Cotton Bowl was almost a breather for the Badgers -- and that's not a knock on previously unbeaten Western Michigan, either. Week after week, Wisconsin stepped up for tough, physical challenges and proved it belonged among the nation's elite.
11. Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-3)
Week 14 ranking: 12
Bowl season result: defeated Colorado 38-8
The points were flowing like Mike Gundy's luscious locks as the Cowboys exploded in the Alama Bowl to crush Colorado, giving the Man with a Mullet another 10-win campaign. The Mason Rudolph-James Washington combination in the passing game was lethal and all the Pokes needed to end the year on a high note.
12. Stanford Cardinal (10-3)
Week 14 ranking: 17
Bowl season result: defeated North Carolina 25-23
Even without Christian McCaffrey, the Cardinal were just fine to cap another season with a double-digit win total. Bryce Love stepped in seamlessly to pick up the yardage slack and offer a reminder that the steady Stanford remains a tough out for just about any opponent.
13. LSU Tigers (8-4)
Week 14 ranking: 20
Bowl season result: defeated Louisville 29-9
Ed Orgeron earned himself a little more goodwill as he continues to put his stamp on the Tigers, holding Louisville and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson without a touchdown in the Citrus Bowl. LSU didn't even need Leonard Fournette to do the heavy lifting with Derrius Guise racking up 138 yards in his place.
14. Florida Gators (9-4)
Week 14 ranking: 19
Bowl season result: defeated Iowa 30-3
There may still be some fans wanting more from the Gators after they dropped the rivalry game to Florida State and were crushed by Alabama in the SEC championship. But Florida still won a division title and then destroyed Iowa in the Outback Bowl to post another respectable season under Jim McElwain -- which gives him something to build off moving forward.
15. Virginia Tech Hokies (10-4)
Week 14 ranking: 18
Bowl season result: defeated Arkansas 35-24
A 10-win season is a pretty strong first impression for Justin Fuente with the Hokies. Riding a four-touchdown performance from Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech capped its season with a trophy in the Belk Bowl and positioned itself as an ACC dark horse heading into the offseason.
16. Colorado Buffaloes (10-4)
Week 14 ranking: 10
Bowl season result: lost to Oklahoma State 38-8
There was no fairy-tale ending for the Buffs, but the turnaround engineered by Mike MacIntyre was still impressive. Colorado might not have the depth quite yet to sustain a stretch against ranked teams like it did at the end of the year, but the loss to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl certainly won't be a lasting setback.
17. Western Michigan Broncos (13-1)
Week 14 ranking: 14
Bowl season result: lost to Wisconsin 24-16
Perfection wasn't in the cards for P.J. Fleck's boat-rowing crew, but it clearly looked like it belonged on the big stage in a competitive Cotton Bowl against Wisconsin. Fleck is off to Minnesota, but the 13-win year for Western Michigan won't be forgot in Kalamazoo for a while.
18. Miami Hurricanes (9-4)
Week 14 ranking: NR
Bowl season result: defeated West Virginia 31-14
Another key contributor to the ACC's impressive postseason, Miami also used its relatively easy victory over West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl to offer a reminder that it plans on being back as a contender soon under Mark Richt. The Hurricanes hadn't won a bowl game in 10 years, and this could be another momentum-building victory for Richt.
19. South Florida Bulls (11-2)
Week 14 ranking: 24
Bowl season result: defeated South Carolina 46-39
A little extra football was required to settle the Birmingham Bowl, but the Bulls surely didn't mind all that much as they extended their season then capped it with a shootout victory over South Carolina. After an 11-win season, South Florida needed to hire a new coach -- but it might have hit the jackpot with Charlie Strong.
20. Tennessee Volunteers (9-4)
Week 14 ranking: NR
Bowl season result: defeated Nebraska 38-24
No matter how Butch Jones might try to spin it, not even a double-digit victory in nearby Nashville at the Music City Bowl could keep the season from being considered a disappointment for the Vols. Posting a nine-win season isn't normally a path to the hot seat, but that's where Jones sits now for a restless fan base.
21. Louisville Cardinals (9-4)
Week 14 ranking: 13
Bowl season result: lost to LSU 29-9
The punchless loss to LSU in the Citrus Bowl gave the Cardinals a three-game losing streak to end the year, which might cast a shadow on Lamar Jackson's Heisman Trophy-winning campaign and all the positivity that surrounded the team during the first two months of the season.
22. West Virginia Mountaineers (10-3)
Week 14 ranking: 16
Bowl season result: lost to Miami 31-14
Dana Holgorson's bounce-back season proved he's still the right man for the job, and 10-win seasons are nothing to sneeze at for the Mountaineers. But after the throttling late in the year at the hands of Oklahoma and the bowl loss to Miami, there is still work to be done to get over the hump.
23. Utah Utes (9-4)
Week 14 ranking: 25
Bowl season result: defeated Indiana 26-24
The story of Joe Williams had one more amazing chapter left; the senior racked up nearly 280 yards of offense to help the Utes hold off Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl. Utah certainly has its sights set on getting into bigger games down the road, but there's no reason to be disappointed with nine victories.
24. Auburn Tigers (8-5)
Week 14 ranking: 15
Bowl season result: lost to Oklahoma 35-19
A reminder probably wasn't necessary, but the Sugar Bowl offered a clear one that the Tigers need to find a solution for the struggling passing attack. Auburn had four players throw passes in the loss to the Sooners, and a one-dimensional attack won't usually work against the country's top teams.
25. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-4)
Week 14 ranking: NR
Bowl season result: defeated Kentucky 33-18
The Yellow Jackets effectively turned the TaxSlayer Bowl over to Dedrick Mills, and the tireless worker rewarded them by churning through 31 carries and piling up 169 yards to knock off Kentucky. Georgia Tech obviously had flaws this season, but it ended on a high note.
Others receiving votes: San Diego State, Kansas State, Western Kentucky, Washington State, Tulsa, Pittsburgh
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College Football Rankings - Week 7
Others receiving votes: Auburn 106, Clemson 63, Baylor 62, UTSA 22, Mississippi State 7, Kansas State 3, Appalachian State 2, Air Force 2, Pittsburgh 1
Dropped from rankings: Auburn 18
Others receiving votes: Auburn 98, Baylor 91, Texas 74, Pittsburgh 36, UTSA 30, Appalachian State 18, Mississippi State 18, Iowa State 18, Boston College 11, Air Force 9, Tennessee 8, Liberty 8, Nevada 7, Louisiana 3, Fresno State 3, Houston 3, UCLA 1
Dropped from rankings: Auburn 19, Texas 23
Others receiving votes: Mercer 66, Eastern Kentucky 50, New Hampshire 44, VMI 43, Incarnate Word 26, William & Mary 19, Duquesne 19, Florida A&M 10, Central Arkansas 9, Yale 8, North Carolina A&T 7, Stephen F. Austin 6, Chattanooga 5, Holy Cross 3, Elon 2, Dartmouth 2, Nicholls 1, Monmouth 1
Dropped from rankings: Chattanooga 19, Monmouth 25