Category Archives: bowl predictions

Bowl Predictions 2021: Week 4

First off, the latest predictions are here. I would consider this week a bit of a “living document”, as if I can scrape together any news before this weekend abut anyone going anywhere I will try to include. This is significantly harder than it used to be, though, as I discuss below.

It turns out a bunch of stuff happened this weekend, and one of those things, to my surprise, was that we got over the 82-team bar that we needed to have enough bowl eligible teams. In fact, there’s 83!

So with that settled, there are also three teams that have accepted invites. My process this year, as detailed previously, is different in the past. One of things I have tried to do ensure that I have captured the agreements the conferences have with bowls as closely as possible. A typical agreement these days, especially for Group of Five conferences, is that they will have 2-4 “permanent” bowl affiliations and some number of teams they’ll provide to ESPN Events (which, again, owns about half of the bowl games). This number is anywhere from 1 to 5.

After I allocated those slots, I was left with 6 teams that did not have a bowl game, with 5 slots to fill. In the real bowl games, there can be some shuffling within the ESPN Events group of bowls and this is nearly impossible to predict. For instance, currently BYU is slotted to the Independence Bowl. However, it’s entirely possible that to create a more attractive matchup, they could be moved to some other ESPN Events bowl. While UTSA isn’t exactly chopped liver, it’s likely that BYU and ESPN would want a matchup more appropriate for a team that has gone 5-0 against the Pac-12 this year. (In some ways, where they really should be is in Vegas this weekend to play, say, Oregon for the Pac-12 title, but still.)

Bowl Predictions 2021: Week 3

They’re in the usual place if you just want to see where I’m guessing teams will wind up.

As we get toward the end of the season, this gets a little easier, of course. But at some point, historically this week, I’d attempt to incorporate rumors or other hints about what bowl reps (generally known by their bombastically-colored blazers) were up to, i.e., “there were representatives from the Independence Bowl in the press box today…”

That doesn’t really happen anymore. Most bowl selections are now in the hands of the conferences and/or ESPN. Also, before the playoff era, teams would generally find out their postseason destinations after Thanksgiving. However, with the playoff and New Year’s Six bowls taking 12 teams from 6 conferences, how many teams a particular conference sends to these bowls greatly affects the downstream picture.

For example, in this set of predictions I have Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas A&M all in the playoff or New Year’s Six. So sure, the SEC currently has 11 bowl eligible teams, but in my scenario the conference still won’t fulfill its second tier bowl obligations.

Next up, we have the general outlook of the bowl picture. As it currently stands, there are 72 bowl eligible teams. There are 41 bowl games this season. (I obviously like bowl games a lot, but even I think that 41 might be too many.) My latest set of predictions – informed by SP+ – get me to 79 bowl eligible teams, which leaves me three short. The NCAA bowl eligibility rules then state that 5-7 teams are eligible, sorted by priority from highest APR down. So that’s how Rutgers, Middle Tennessee State, and Syracuse show up on my board. This is somewhat complicated by the fact I’m using old data because the NCAA has said that it will not publicly release the 2019-2020 data for APR.

So there we have it. The real test will come tomorrow night, when we see how the committee deals with Oregon’s loss.

Bowl Predictions 2021: Week 2

Fresh and hot here.

Here’s the highlights:

  • I still don’t have enough teams, but I’m down to only two this week. I suspect we’ll get some upsets that will help shake things up. I’m still trying to figure out what the APR situation is for any 5-win teams.
  • For now, I’m projecting Cincy into the top 4. I know I’m not the only one doing this, but my logic is essentially that a 2-loss non-conference champ Alabama isn’t going to get in. Normally I would wait for the CFP rankings to be released each week, but I’m trying very hard to get these out before the Tuesday MAC games, so I can only guess at their machinations.
  • Just a reminder, with the number of bowls that are owned by ESPN Events (about half of them, especially pretty much every pre-Christmas bowl) there is a very high degree of guessing to all of this these days.


Bowl Predictions 2021: Week 1

It’s that time again, folks. The first set of projections are here.

Here’s how this works. Each weekend from now until the end of the season, I project out every potential bowl eligible team. In the past, I had pretty much eyeballed this, but these days I now use SP+ to project each team’s final record.

I then attempt to determine the College Football Playoff controlled games based on their rules and precedents. Remember, my projections are attempting to extrapolate out from now through the last weekend of the season.

For non-CFP games, I attempt to apply each conference’s selection criteria to the bowls they are partnered with. Unfortunately, this is when the science starts to get very, very inexact. With the latest bowl deals that nominally took effect for the 2020 season, almost every conference has abandoned any sort of performance-based criteria for how their bowls are seeded. In addition, some conferences, especially in the Group-of-Five, have ceded almost all control of where their teams are placed to ESPN events, which owns about half of the bowl games.

This makes the call of which teams go where nearly impossible to predict anymore. Nonetheless, I will give it a shot and see if I can learn anything this year that I can apply to future seasons. I didn’t really do bowl predictions last year because half of the games were canceled and many teams opted-out.

An additional wrinkle for this week is that I am short five teams for all available slots. I will work in future weeks to determine what remedies may be available if this actually happens, but in the meantime any game that is lacking a team should have a “???” in at least one of its slots.

Bowl Predictions 2020: First Update

This is basically impossible this year. It was going to be hard enough with the new bowl contracts, where the conferences and ESPN are now leveraging more control than ever. But removing eligibility requirements takes it to a whole other level. Usually, I make a spreadsheet and predict which teams will wind up 6-6, and then try to judge how the various stakeholders might pick a team. Yeah, not in 2020.

So here they are, my best guesses heading in Championship Weekend. The table still needs some updates, but those likely won’t go up until after all the games have been announced. I will also be utterly shock if anything I predicted is correct, just because it’s almost all guessing due to the reasons mentioned above. But hey, I’ve been doing this since 1999, I can’t stop now.