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College Football Bowl Game Projections Heading Into Conference Championships

It's conference championship week, which means it bowl game projections season.

In bittersweet fashion, like always, conference championship weekend has arrived bringing us one week closer to the end of the 2023-24 college football season but it also means that we are just days away from finding out who is in the College Football Playoff and who is out.

It also means that bowl season has arrived.

When you add the coveted New Year's Six Bowl Games with the rest of the field you get 41 total bowl games which means we need 82 teams to fill out those spots and all 82 spots have been filled.

To be bowl eligible you have to win six games, with some technicalities along the way. For instance, despite the NCAA prohibiting them from postseason play due to their FCS to FBS transition both James Madison and Jacksonville State qualified for a bowl due to the lack of six-win teams. As well as Minnesota, who is 5-7, but is the lone sub .500 team to fill out. Of those 82 teams, the Sun Belt Conference has the most teams that are bowl eligible with 12, and is followed by the ACC with 11. The Big 12, Big Ten, and the SEC each have nine teams while the Pac-12 (8), Mountain West (7), MAC (6), American (6), and Conference USA (4) round out the 81 teams that are within in a conference as Notre Dame finalizes the total list.

There are just 10 conference title games that separate us from bowl season and knowing who is playing who but for now, check out our updated bowl projections heading into conference championship weekend.

The New Year's Six

AUBURN, ALABAMA - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts to head line judge Chad Green about a call during the fourth quarter against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Auburn, Alabama.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Cotton Bowl (Dec. 29) - Washington Huskies vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Common sense here says that I have the Washington Huskies and the Alabama Crimson Tide both losing their conference title game. For Alabama it is frustrating but it's heartbreaking for Washington, as that would be their first loss of the season. While both of these teams have playoff aspirations, this matchup would be the next best thing and could, and should, be a high-scoring affair as both quarterbacks have a lot of say in how good their team is going to play.

Orange Bowl (Dec. 3o) - Louisville Cardinals vs. Missouri Tigers

I think the Louisville Cardinals will win the ACC with Jordan Travis out for Florida State for the rest of the season which would put the Cardinals in the Orange Bowl to take on the third-best team in the SEC the Missouri Tigers. Both the Tigers and Cardinals are two of the most improved teams from a year ago and are going look to cap off their stellar seasons with a Power Five win in a New Year's Six Bowl Game.

Peach Bowl (Dec. 3o) - SMU Mustangs vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

As you can see there is a trend here and that is me giving you my conference title predictions, and I think the SMU Mustangs will knock off Tulane in the American Championship Game and earn the at-large bid for the best Group of Five team. However, the reward will most likely bring them a matchup with one of the best defenses in the country in the Penn State Nittany Lions, whose offense is finally starting to show some life following the firing of their offensive coordinator.

Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1) - Florida State Seminoles vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

A couple of weeks ago, both the Florida State Seminoles and the Ohio State Buckeyes seemed to be locks for the College Football Playoff, like they had been for most of the season. While the Seminoles are still alive, the Buckeyes will need a lot of help to have a slim chance of making the cut. This game would be one from the 1990s where each team will bring in a stingy defense, a solid run game, and questionable quarterback play.

Sugar Bowl (CFP Semifinal) (Jan. 1) - Georgia Bulldogs vs. Texas Longhorns

Unless they get blown out, the Georgia Bulldogs are a 99 percent lock to make the playoffs whether they win or lose in the SEC title game. For the Longhorns, they will need to win and need either Florida State and/or Washington to lose to get in. The Bulldogs have been playing their best football in the backend of the season while the Longhorns are starting to play complete games despite losing their star running back, and potentially their star wide receiver.

Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal) (Jan. 1) - Michigan Wolverines vs. Oregon Ducks

The Michigan Wolverines win over Ohio State pretty much clinched their spot in the playoffs while the Oregon Ducks need a revenge win over Washington in the Pac-12 title game to get in. This matchup would see one of the nation's best defenses take on one of the nation's best offenses. But the deciding factor will be the performance of Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy and the ability of the Oregon defense to slow down the Wolverine run game.

The Rest of the Bowl Game Projections

Dec-16 New Orleans Jacksonville State Arkansas State C-USA vs. Sun Belt New Orleans, La.
Dec-16 New Mexico New Mexico St Texas State C-USA vs. MWC Albuquerque, N.M.
Dec-16 Los Angeles San Jose St UCLA MWC vs. Pac-12 Los Angeles, Calif.
Dec-16 Independence Texas Tech Cal Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Shreveport, La.
Dec-16 Cure Georgia State Eastern Michigan Pool vs. Pool Orlando, Fla.
Dec-18 Famous Toastery Georgia Southern Bowling Green C-USA vs. MAC Charlotte, N.C.
Dec-18 Myrtle Beach Troy Western Kentucky Pool vs. Pool Myrtle Beach, SC
Dec-19 Frisco Boise State Old Dominion Pool vs. Pool Frisco, Tex.
Dec-21 Boca Raton Coastal Carolina Northern Illinois Pool vs. Pool Boca Raton, Fla.
Dec-22 Gasparilla UCF Liberty ACC/SEC vs. Pool Tampa, Fla.
Dec-23 Armed Forces West Virginia South Alabama Big 12 vs Pool Fort Worth, Tex.
Dec-23 Camellia Utah State App State Pool vs. Pool Montgomery, Ala.
Dec-23 Birmingham Marshall Syracuse Pool vs. ACC/SEC Birmingham, Ala.
Dec-23 Hawaii Wyoming Rice MWC vs. AAC Honolulu, Hawaii
Dec-23 Las Vegas Northwestern USC Big Ten vs. Pac-12 Las Vegas, Nev.
Dec-23 68 Ventures UTSA James Madison Pool vs. Sun Belt Mobile, Ala.
Dec-23 Idaho Potato Toledo UNLV MAC vs. MWC Boise, Idaho
Dec-26 Guaranteed Rate Kansas Maryland Big 12 vs. Big Ten Phoenix, Ariz.
Dec-26 First Responder Air Force Louisiana AAC vs. Pool Dallas, Tex.
Dec-26 Quick Lane Minnesota Ohio Big Ten vs. MAC Detroit, Mich.
Dec-27 Texas Oklahoma State Auburn Big 12 vs. SEC Houston, Tex.
Dec-27 Holiday Clemson Oregon State ACC vs. Pac-12 San Diego, Calif.
Dec-27 Duke's Mayo Duke Kentucky ACC vs. SEC Charlotte, N.C.
Dec-27 Military Georgia Tech Tulane ACC vs. AAC Annapolis, Md.
Dec-28 Pinstripe NC State Rutgers ACC vs. Big Ten New York, N.Y.
Dec-28 Fenway Boston College South Florida ACC vs. AAC Boston, Mass.
Dec-28 Pop-Tarts Virginia Tech Kansas State ACC vs. Big 12 Orlando, Fla.
Dec-28 Alamo Oklahoma Arizona Big 12 vs. Pac-12 San Antonio, Tex.
Dec-29 Liberty Iowa State Memphis Big 12 vs. SEC Memphis, Tenn.
Dec-29 Sun Miami (FL) Utah ACC vs. Pac-12 El Paso, Tex.
Dec-29 Gator North Carolina Tennessee Big Ten vs. SEC Jacksonville, Fla.
Dec-30 Arizona Fresno State Miami (OH) MWC vs. MAC Tucson, Ariz.
Dec-30 Music City Wisconsin Texas A&M Big Ten vs. SEC Nashville, Tenn.
Jan-1 ReliaQuest Notre Dame LSU Big Ten/ACC vs. SEC Tampa, Fla.
Jan-1 Citrus Iowa Ole Miss Big Ten vs. SEC Orlando, Fla.

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