Painting a Picture of the Future of College Football Bowl Games

Yesterday, the College Football Playoff website published a list of FAQs regarding the upcoming playoff system. Most notably, a framework of how the non-playoff bowl teams will be chosen.

[…] Five conferences have arranged contracts for their champions to play in New Year’s bowl games — Atlantic Coast (Orange), Big Ten (Rose), Big 12 (Sugar), Pac-12 (Rose), and Southeastern (Sugar).

The highest ranked champion of the other five Football Bowl Subdivision conferences…will play in one of the six New Year’s bowls. Other available berths will be awarded to the teams ranked highest by the committee. The committee will assign teams to bowls.

When the Fiesta, Cotton and Atlanta bowls are not hosting semifinal games, their participants will come from three sources: (1) The highest ranked champion among the five conferences listed in the paragraph above, (2) conference champions that are displaced when their contracted bowls host semifinals and (3) the remaining teams ranked highest in the committee’s rankings.

The committee will assign teams to the non-playoff bowls to create the most compelling matchups, while considering other factors such as geographic proximity, avoiding rematches of regular-season games and avoiding rematches of recent years’ bowl games.

Since the 2013 season is still fresh in our minds, I created a projection of the next three bowl seasons using this year’s teams to get a better idea of how this might play out. If I was the committee, these are the games I would choose to “create the most compelling matchups.” The rankings I used are from the week 16 AP rankings, which, by my approximation, will be the most similar to how the committee will rank the teams.

2013 Teams in the 2014-2015 Playoff/Bowl System

Bowl Match-Up
Peach #10 Oregon vs. #15 UCF*
Fiesta #5 Stanford* vs. #11 Oklahoma
Orange #7 Ohio St. vs. #8 South Carolina
Cotton Bowl Classic #6 Baylor* vs. #9 Missouri
Rose Bowl Game (Semi-Final) #1 Florida St.* vs. #4 Michigan St.*
Sugar (Semi-Final) #2 Auburn* vs #3 Alabama

*Conference Champion

2013 Teams in the 2015-2016 Playoff/Bowl System

Bowl Match-Up
Peach #8 South Carolina vs. #15 UCF*
Cotton Bowl Classic (Semi-Final) #1 Florida St.* vs. #4 Michigan St.*
Orange (Semi-Final) #2 Auburn* vs #3 Alabama
Fiesta #10 Oregon vs. #11 Oklahoma
Rose Bowl Game #5 Stanford* vs. #7 Ohio St.
Sugar #6 Baylor* vs. #9 Missouri

*Conference Champion

2013 Teams in the 2016-2017 Playoff/Bowl System

Bowl Match-Up
Peach (Semi-Final) #1 Florida St.* vs. #4 Michigan St.*
Fiesta (Semi-Final) #2 Auburn* vs #3 Alabama
Orange #8 South Carolina vs. #15 UCF*
Cotton Bowl Classic #10 Oregon vs. #11 Oklahoma
Rose Bowl Game #5 Stanford* vs. #7 Ohio St.
Sugar #6 Baylor* vs. #9 Missouri

*Conference Champion