USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Nick Saban, Kirby Smart and Dabo Swinney
- College football is entering Week 7, and bowl projections are starting to take shape as more teams get close to eligibility.
- We've outlined projections for every bowl, plus the point spread if those matchups were to take place.
- There is still plenty of football to be played, so this will change weekly -- and we'll update our projections accordingly.
It’s never too early to speculate on college football bowl games.
We’ve laid out bowl matchups for all 39 games — and the projected point spreads to go with them — based on The Action Network power ratings.
2018 Bowl Projections: College Football Playoff
First, the bowl games that truly matter: The national semifinals.
Through six weeks, Notre Dame has done enough to earn the last spot, provided it wins out. There’s no way the committee can keep out an unbeaten Irish team.
After that, you have to pencil in Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State right now. All three are unbeaten and in position to win their conference. Oh, and they’re all really, really good.
New Year’s Six Bowl Projections
The next-best thing to the playoff. Most of these teams will get automatic bids based on winning their conference or finishing second-best to a team that goes to the CFP.
This weekend’s Wisconsin-Michigan game will effectively knock out the loser from a New Year’s Six bowl. Penn State plays both of these teams later in the season, and with wins in both would surely get in (and won’t be disqualified from playoff contention, either).
West Virginia is technically in the driver’s seat to represent the Big 12 since it’s unbeaten, but I think the Mountaineers lose to both Texas and Oklahoma and ultimately come up short. That puts the Sooners and Longhorns in New Year’s Six Bowls.
But what about the SEC? Kentucky, Florida, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State could all still make NY6 Bowls, but the Wildcats and Gators still have to play Georgia, Mississippi State still has Alabama on the schedule … and Auburn and LSU still have to play both Alabama and Georgia. There will be plenty of cannibalization.
After Boise State lost on Saturday, UCF is in an even better position to get the Group of 5’s NY6 spot. The committee will rank a one-loss UCF above another one-loss G5 team thanks to last season, so North Texas or Hawaii (!!!) will need a lot of help.
Unfortunately for the Knights, we’re projecting them to play Texas, which is very much back.
The Remaining Bowl Projections
There’s almost too much to dissect here, but there are some quality matchups coming down the pipe.
At this point, the most difficult conference to project is the Pac-12. There are 10 programs with at least three wins at the halfway point of the season — just based on the fact that they play each other, one or two won’t be bowl eligible. We just don’t know who it will be yet.
For now, we’ve left Arizona and Arizona State off in favor of Cal and Utah, but that’s no sure thing.
In the rest of the conferences, there are haves and have nots, for the most part.
Like last year, there might be more bowl-eligible teams than bowl spots. If that isn’t the case, however, five to seven teams can get in if they have quality APR (Academic Progress Rate) scores.