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2014 preseason college football bowl projections

Ben Liebenberg / NFL
Jameis Winston is looking to lead Florida State back to the national championship game.

The BCS is gone, the four-team playoff is in -- and there are more bowls than ever.

It's true: Four bowls have been added to the menu this season, so when you include the two playoff semifinal games that will be played in bowls, there are 38 bowls. That means 76 teams will be in the postseason -- or 59 percent of the 128 teams in the FBS ranks.

One thing to remember about the playoff is that the selection committee responsible for choosing the four teams also will select the eight teams that will be involved in the four other bowls associated with the playoff. This season, the semifinals are in the Rose and Sugar bowls, meaning the committee also will pick the matchups in the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange and Peach bowls. While there are 12 teams involved in the six games, it's not necessarily the 12 highest-ranked teams by committee; instead, the highest-ranked team from outside of the "Power Five" conferences is guaranteed a slot in one of the games, even if it falls outside the top 12. (Just don't expect a school outside the "Power Five" to be in the four-team playoff.)

The Orange, Rose and Sugar bowls continue to have contracts with various conferences (the Rose with the Big Ten and Pac-12, the Orange with the ACC and the Sugar with the Big 12 and SEC). What does that mean? From the official site of the playoff: "If a conference champion qualifies for the playoff, then the bowl will choose a replacement from that conference. When those bowls host the semifinals and their contracted conference champions do not qualify, then the displaced champion(s) will play in the other New Years Day bowls." (And to think that there were a lot of folks who said the playoff would make the postseason easier to understand.)

When perusing these bowl projections, remember that a bowl's tie-in with a league doesn't necessarily mean it will get the third- or fourth-, etc., place team from the league; instead, it means it gets the third or fourth, etc., selection from that league. You'll also notice that there is no clear-cut designation for some of the league tie-ins; that's because the leagues and bowl organizers want a lot of leeway to put together the best possible matchup.

Note: Start times listed are ET.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF MATCHUPS

ROSE BOWL

Site: Pasadena, Calif.
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 5 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Semifinal game this season.
Projection: Alabama vs. Oregon


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SUGAR BOWL

Site: New Orleans
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Semifinal game this season.
Projection: Florida State vs. Oklahoma

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Site: Arlington, Texas
Date: Jan. 12
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Semifinal winners.
Projection: Florida State vs. Oregon

THE OTHER BOWLS

NEW ORLEANS BOWL

Site: New Orleans
Date: Dec. 20
Time/TV: 11 a.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West No. 6 vs. Sun Belt
Projection: San Diego State vs. Arkansas State
Note: The kickoff time is correct, which means this one starts at 10 a.m. in New Orleans. That should cut down on the night-before-the-game partying (then again, maybe not).

ROYAL PURPLE BOWL

Site: Las Vegas
Date: Dec. 20
Time/TV: 12:30 p.m., ABC
Matchup: Mountain West No. 1 vs. Pac-12 No. 6/7
Projection: Utah State vs. Arizona
Note: This used to be known simply as the Las Vegas Bowl (Royal Purple makes lubricants for automotive, industrial and marine use). And the kickoff will be at 10:30 a.m. local time, which -- with the game being in Vegas -- should have zero effect on the night-before-the-game partying.

NEW MEXICO BOWL

Site: Albuquerque
Date: Dec. 20
Time/TV: 2:20 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mountain West No. 3/4
Projection: North Texas vs. Nevada

IDAHO POTATO BOWL

Site: Boise, Idaho
Date: Dec. 20
Time/TV: 5:45 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American vs. Mountain West No. 5
Projection: Ohio vs. Colorado State

CAMELLIA BOWL

Site: Montgomery, Ala.
Date: Dec. 20
Time/TV: 8:15 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Bowling Green vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Note: This is one of four new bowls this season. Given the central time zone location, you sort of wonder why this isn't a day game and the Vegas bowl at night. If this were indeed the matchup, it would be a good one, matching the projected winners in the MAC and Sun Belt.

MIAMI BEACH BOWL

Site: Miami
Date: Dec. 22
Time/TV: 2 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: AAC vs. BYU if bowl-eligible
Projection: Cincinnati vs. BYU
Note: This is one of the new bowls. The game isn't on Miami Beach; it actually will be played at Marlins Park, near downtown Miami. And why BYU wants to play in a bowl in Florida ... ? One thing to consider about this one: BYU plays AAC members Houston and UCF during the regular season, and you wouldn't think organizers would want a rematch.

POINSETTIA BOWL

Site: San Diego
Date: Dec. 23
Time/TV: 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West No. 2 vs. Navy if bowl-eligible
Projection: Boise State vs. Navy

BOCA RATON BOWL

Site: Boca Raton, Fla.
Date: Dec. 23
Time/TV: 6 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mid-American
Projection: Western Kentucky vs. Northern Illinois
Note: This is another one of the four new bowls this season. It's played at FAU's on-campus stadium. Hey, there are far worse places to be than in south Florida around Christmas time.

BAHAMAS BOWL

Site: Nassau
Date: Dec. 24
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mid-American
Projection: Middle Tennessee vs. Ball State
Note: This is the other new bowl. Christmas Eve in the Bahamas? That should be appealing to a few folks. But remember that traveling to the Bahamas requires a passport.

HAWAII BOWL

Site: Honolulu
Date: Dec. 24
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mountain West No. 3/4
Projection: Rice vs. Fresno State

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL

Site: Dallas
Date: Dec. 26
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 10 vs. Conference USA
Projection: Minnesota vs. Texas-San Antonio
Note: This is played in Cotton Bowl stadium (the stadium that plays host to the annual Oklahoma-Texas game) and had been on New Year's Day.

DETROIT LIONS BOWL

Site: Detroit
Date: Dec. 26
Time/TV: 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC No. 7 vs. Big Ten No. 9
Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Northwestern
Note: This had been known as the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. We're not sure which name is worse.

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ST. PETERSBURG BOWL

Site: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Date: Dec. 26
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: AAC vs. ACC No. 8
Projection: UCF vs. Georgia Tech
Note: This had been known as the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.

MILITARY BOWL

Site: Annapolis, Md.
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: AAC vs. ACC No. 9
Projection: Houston vs. Pittsburgh

SUN BOWL

Site: El Paso, Texas
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 2 p.m., CBS
Matchup: ACC No. 3/4/5/6 vs. Pac-12 No. 5
Projection: North Carolina vs. Washington

INDEPENDENCE BOWL

Site: Shreveport, La.
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 4 p.m., ESPN2
Matchup: ACC No. 10 vs. SEC No. 10
Projection: Syracuse vs. Tulane
Note: Projection is the SEC won't be able to fill its slot. The bowl has a secondary agreement with the AAC; hence, the pick of Tulane.

PINSTRIPE BOWL

Site: New York
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 4:30, ESPN
Matchup: ACC No. 3/4/5/6 vs. Big Ten No. 8
Projection: Miami vs. Maryland
Note: The Big Ten's push to the East Coast results in a slot in this game, which is played at Yankee Stadium.

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HOLIDAY BOWL

Site: San Diego
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 4 vs. Pac-12 No. 3
Projection: Nebraska vs. Stanford

LIBERTY BOWL

Site: Memphis
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV: 2 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 No. 5 vs. SEC No. 3/4/5/6/7/8
Projection: West Virginia vs. Ole Miss

RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL

Site: Orlando
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV: 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC No. 2 vs. Big 12 No. 3
Projection: Notre Dame vs. Texas

TEXAS BOWL

Site: Houston
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 No. 4 vs. SEC No. 3/4/5/6/7/8
Projection: Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M

MUSIC CITY BOWL

Site: Nashville
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: 3 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC No. 3/4/5/6 vs. SEC No. 3/4/5/6/7/8
Projection: Louisville vs. Mississippi State

BELK BOWL

Site: Charlotte, N.C.
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: 6:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC No. 3/4/5/6 vs. SEC No. 3/4/5/6/7/8
Projection: Duke vs. Missouri

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FIGHT HUNGER BOWL

Site: Santa Clara, Calif.
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: 10 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 7 vs. Pac-12 No. 4
Projection: Penn State vs. Arizona State
Note: That Penn State is listed here means we think the school's postseason ban will be lifted by the NCAA. This bowl had been played at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, but is moving to the San Francisco 49ers' new stadium.

PEACH BOWL

Site: Atlanta
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: TBA, ESPN
Matchup: This is part of the "playoff" bowl group. The Peach will play host to a national semifinal in the 2016 season.
Projection: Marshall vs. South Carolina
Note: Marshall has to be unbeaten to get here as the non-"Power Five" representative. Given the Herd's schedule, though, that's not a stretch at all. (If Marshall isn't unbeaten, the AAC champ -- likely Cincinnati or UCF -- likely would be the highest-ranked non-"Power Five" team.)

FIESTA BOWL

Site: Glendale, Ariz.
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 5 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: This is part of the "playoff" bowl group. The Fiesta will play host to a national semifinal in the 2016 season. (This site also will play host to the national title game after the 2015 season.)
Projection: Ohio State vs. UCLA

ORANGE BOWL

Site: Miami
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: This is part of the "playoff" bowl group. The Orange will play host to a national semifinal in the 2015 season.
Projection: Clemson vs. Michigan State

CAPITAL ONE BOWL

Site: Orlando
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 12:30 p.m., ABC
Matchup: Big Ten No. 2 vs. SEC No. 2
Projection: Iowa vs. Georgia

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OUTBACK BOWL

Site: Tampa
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 3 vs. SEC No. 3/4/5/6/7/8
Projection: Wisconsin vs. Florida

COTTON BOWL

Site: Arlington, Texas
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: This is part of the "playoff" bowl group. The Cotton will play host to a national semifinal in the 2016 season. (This site also is the site of the national title game this season.)
Projection: Auburn vs. Baylor

ARMED FORCES BOWL

Site: Fort Worth, Texas
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN
Matchup: AAC vs. Army if bowl-eligible
Projection: SMU vs. Oklahoma State
Note: The projection is that Army won't be eligible. That is an extreme long shot to begin with, and because the Big 12 has a secondary tie-in, Oklahoma State is the pick.

TAXSLAYER BOWL

Site: Jacksonville
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: 3:20, ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 5 vs. SEC No. 3/4/5/6/7/8
Projection: Michigan vs. LSU
Note: This had been known as the Gator Bowl since 1946.

ALAMO BOWL

Site: San Antonio
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 No. 2 vs. Pac-12 No. 2
Projection: Kansas State vs. USC

CACTUS BOWL

Site: Tempe, Ariz.
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: 10:15 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 No. 6 vs. Pac-12 No. 6/7
Projection: TCU vs. Washington State
Note: This had been known as the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and is played on Arizona State's campus.

BIRMINGHAM BOWL

Site: Birmingham, Ala.
Date: Jan. 3
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
Matchup: AAC vs. SEC No. 9
Projection: East Carolina vs. Troy State
Note: This had been known as the BBVA Compass Bank Bowl. Projection is that the SEC won't be able to fill its slot.

GODADDY.COM BOWL

Site: Mobile, Ala.
Date: Jan. 4
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Toledo at South Alabama
Note: If South Alabama does indeed get a bid, it will be playing in its home stadium. The stadium also plays host to the Senior Bowl.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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