Category Archives: bowl predictions

Bowl Predictions 2023: Week 5

They’re up and they’re here!

Let’s get right into it:

  • There’s lots of garment rending and gnashing of teeth online at the moment regarding the playoff, but I think it’ll work itself out. Well, unless Oregon and Texas win. Which is what I’m betting will happen. At any rate, I will fully admit putting Oregon at #3 is just purely to get a traditional Rose Bowl. It sort of seems like that as long as Florida State stays undefeated, they’ll finish above any 1-loss team. We’ll see though!
  • Predicting this stuff isn’t what it used to be. I used to spend the post-Thanksgiving period doing Google News searches for local beat writer articles about possible bowl destinations. Now, these articles are just summations of the more prominent national writers’ bowl predictions. Gee, awesome. The whole point of this exercise for me is to use my own know-how to try to get somewhere near what might happen.
  • The exception of to the above is actually an article done the old fashioned way, and it’s very helpful because it tracks with what I was thinking and also changes my feel for how I think Georgia Tech’s bowl prospects look.
  • On that note, this article out of El Paso is also helpful – if the Sun Bowl chairman is saying out loud that he wants two “name” teams, he might well get it. (Then again, at least on the ACC side it’s up to the conference, not the bowl.)
  • On the 5-7 watch, we had to wait for the late returns from the West Coast and beyond, but with Cal whomping UCLA and Hawaii kicking a last-second field goal to conclude the regular season, we wound up 3 teams short. This means James Madison and Jacksonville State: step right up! And that means we need one 5-7 team, which looks like it’ll be Minnesota.
  • With JMU going bowling, that means the Sun Belt gets 12 of its 14 teams in, which is a pretty big accomplishment for a non-power conference. (Since, generally, each of those teams pretty much starts with 1 loss due to a paycheck game against a power team.) I did some juggling with the ESPN Events affiliated bowls to avoid Sun Belt vs. Sun Belt matchups, and I don’t think what I did was unreasonable.

That’s about it. On Sunday, I’ll be following the announcements as live as I possibly can. There’ll be one last update Saturday night after the conference title games conclude to account for any new news after this or upsets, and the final predictions will be uploaded. I may not be able to make a post. If I don’t, I will be updating the predictions on Sunday. When this happens, as long as I don’t know future results, I do update the table to account for things I get wrong in the hopes of getting bowls further down the chain correctly, so keep that in mind when assessing how correct I was.

Bowl Predictions 2023: Week 4

It’s that time again, and you’ll find the latest predictions here.

Notes and tidbits:

  • This week I needed 5 5-7 teams, down from 7 last week. The trajectory is good, but we’ll need some big upsets to get all the way there.
  • The Sun Belt has 9 teams qualified, and they’re certainly doing their part to plug a lot of gaps left by the decimated Conference USA.
  • Speaking of the Sun Belt, while James Madison lost their NCAA petition, barring a lot of upsets, they’ll still get a bowl game at least. As a reminder, they would get in before any 5-7 team.
  • Once again, unlike JMU, I don’t think Jacksonville State can get in this year since this is the first year of their FCS to FBS transition.
  • Since Army and Navy aren’t already qualified, I don’t see them making it since the bowls are announced a week before they play. In addition, Army is 5-6 and played two FCS teams. Navy plays SMU this weekend and if they win, they’ll get in, but I see that as… unlikely.
  • For the playoff picture, I realized that the Committee will likely rank the undefeated teams ahead of any 1-loss team, so Oregon slides down to the 4th spot.
  • And finally, I needed no shenanigans to get Georgia Tech in, which is something I haven’t been able to safely do since 2018. That said, I really suspect we’re going to get the Sun Bowl or some such.

Playoff tiers:

  • First tier: Georgia (undefeated SEC champ), undefeated Big Ten champ (Michigan or Ohio State), Florida State (undefeated ACC champ), undefeated/one-loss Pac-12 champ (Washington or Oregon)
  • Second tier: Texas (1-loss Big 12 champ)
  • Third tier: 1-loss Big Ten non-champ (Michigan or Ohio State)
  • Fourth tier: 1-loss SEC champ (Alabama or (if only) Georgia), Washington (1-loss Pac-12 runner-up)
  • In other words: if Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State, Washington, or Oregon win out, they’re in. I’m aware of the Jordan Travis injury for FSU but if they’re undefeated they’re in.
  • Texas, if they win out, is probably ahead of any 1-loss team that isn’t Oregon, though I could see Washington staying above them.
  • We’d need a lot of weird upsets in the next two weeks to even really start talking about Louisville getting in. This is pretty much the whole field as I see it.

Bowl Predictions 2023: Week 3

They’re here!

This week I was only 7 teams short thanks to some upsets, but regardless we’re going to need to a lot more to get to the number we need.

As promised, here’s some insight into my thought process:

  • I always start with the CFP and the New Year’s Six bowl games. I expect Michigan, Georgia, Oregon, Florida State, and Texas to win out. This means someone will be left out. It may be ideal for Texas to get Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game to see if they can avenge their Red River loss, otherwise I think Oregon will have an edge over them.
  • The Group of Five New Year’s Six team is much less certain this year. Tulane may have the insight track to make it two in a row after Air Force has collapsed the past two weeks.
  • Thanks to the timing of their losses, Missouri has likely jumped Ole Miss for the third New Year’s Six spot from the SEC.
  • The ESPN Events bowl situation remains a mess for folks like me, an issue that makes trying to predict basically all of the pre-Christmas bowl games very difficult.
  • While James Madison will likely get into a bowl game regardless of what happens with their waiver. That said, the waiver may affect what game they go to, since nominally every spot is supposed to be filled before the backup pool of teams is used. This may or may not matter since every Sun Belt bowl game is owned by ESPN Events.

Bowl Predictions 2023: Week 2

They’re actually here this time, and fully filled out even!

Let’s talk a little about the process. What I do is examine each team’s remaining schedule and roughly source based on their projected final record. In the past, I used to just sort of wing it, but these days I use SP+ to determine the winners and losers. SP+ is very predictive, but that does mean I don’t really account for upsets until they happen. So it’s common that I’ll be short a bunch of teams, but the gaps are filled in a bit as upsets occur.

This week I was nine teams short which means that NCAA Division I Bylaw 18.7.2 applies. Here’s a summary of how eligible (or “deserving” in NCAA-speak) teams are determined:

  1. You finish with a .500 record or better in games against FBS teams and no more than 1 FCS team (that gives enough scholarships).
  2. You would’ve finished with a .500 record or better, but you lost the conference title game (aka the “UCLA and Georgia Tech” rule).

So that got me to 72 bowl eligible teams. The problem is that there are 40 bowl games, so I need 80. What’s a guy to do? Well, turns out the NCAA thought of that. Here’s the deal:

  1. You can count 1 FCS win, even if that FCS school didn’t give out enough scholarships.
  2. If you played 13 games and finished with a 6-7 record.
  3. You’re a team that’s in its final year of reclassifying from FCS to FBS. Currently only James Madison fits this criteria.
  4. From then on, we go by Academic Progress Rate, or APR.

What APR is (or isn’t) doesn’t matter much for our purposes. What matters is that we can essentially use to find more teams.

It took some doing, but I got there. Again, check out the page for all the games. I’ll discuss the process more next week as well.