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Bowl projections: Penn State back in mix for postseason

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As bad as the weekend was for the Big Ten, the league still is in good shape to place two teams in the "playoff bowls."

While it seems unlikely the league will get a team into the playoff, the selection committee also is responsible for selecting the eight teams that will be involved in the four other bowls associated with the playoff. Big Ten teams that are 11-1 or 10-2 likely would appeal to the committee, and they would be extremely appealing to bowl committees because -- for the most part -- Big Ten teams put fans in seats and turn on TV sets. (And if you don't think pleasing bowl and TV officials won't be important ... let's just say you're naïve and leave it at that.) That means Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa could be in for nice holidays if they can get to 10 wins.

The lifting of Penn State's bowl ban Monday obviously is good for the Big Ten; it gives the league a far better chance to fill all its available bowl slots.

Remember that 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.

This season, the playoff 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 non-Power Five school to be in a four-team playoff.)

When looking over 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 what they consider 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: Fresno State vs. Arkansas State

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. Washington

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: Bowling Green vs. Colorado State

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CAMELLIA BOWL

Site: Montgomery, Ala.
Date: Dec. 20
Time/TV: 8:15 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

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

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: San Diego 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. Toledo

BAHAMAS BOWL

Site: Nassau
Date: Dec. 24
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mid-American
Projection: Middle Tennessee vs. Ball State

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. Boise 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: Illinois vs. UT San Antonio

QUICK LANE BOWL

Site: Detroit
Date: Dec. 26
Time/TV: 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC No. 7 vs. Big Ten No. 9
Projection: Georgia Tech vs. Minnesota

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. North Carolina State

MILITARY BOWL

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

INDEPENDENCE BOWL

Site: Shreveport, La.
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 4 p.m., ESPN2
Matchup: ACC No. 10 vs. SEC No. 10
Projection: Duke vs. Louisiana Tech
Note: Projection is the SEC won't be able to fill its slot; Conference USA has a secondary agreement with the bowl, which leads to the pick of Louisiana Tech.

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

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. UCLA

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. Mississippi

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. Oklahoma State

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 vs. Texas A&M

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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: Clemson vs. Missouri

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: Michigan vs. Arizona State

PEACH BOWL

Site: Atlanta
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: This is part of the "playoff" bowl group. The Peach will play host to a national semifinal in the 2016 season.
Projection: Georgia vs. Marshall

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. USC

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: Virginia Tech 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. LSU

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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: Houston at TCU
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, TCU is the pick to play in its home stadium.

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: Penn State vs. South Carolina

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. Stanford

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: Texas Tech vs. Oregon State

BIRMINGHAM BOWL

Site: Birmingham, Ala.
Date: Jan. 3
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
Matchup: AAC vs. SEC No. 9
Projection: Memphis vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Note: The 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: Ohio at South Alabama

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

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