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.