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Bowl projections: BYU unlikely to make top postseason game

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Associated Press
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill has emerged as a contender for the Heisman Trophy.

While there aren't "BCS-busters" anymore, the idea that BYU could make like a BCS-buster and crash the "big bowl" party is gathering steam.

BYU has opened 4-0, including wins over "Power Five" teams Texas and Virginia; there's one Power Five team left on the Cougars' schedule and it's California in the final regular-season game.

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BYU also has four Mountain West teams (Boise State, Nevada, UNLV and Utah State), an AAC team (UCF), a Conference USA team (Middle Tennessee State) and an FCS team (Savannah State) remaining on its schedule along with Cal.

A 12-0 BYU team is not going to make the playoff. There's no way the schedule impresses enough people. The question is whether the playoff selection committee -- which also is tasked with picking the matchups in the other so-called "playoff bowls" along with the four playoff teams -- will be impressed enough by the Cougars to select them. As an independent, BYU does not count as a non-Power Five school; it would have to be chosen for a "playoff bowl" in addition to a non-Power Five participant.

It's easy to see an unbeaten BYU team finishing in the top 10 in the media polls. But the media polls aren't supposed to matter to the selection committee. BYU will sell a ton of tickets, that's for sure, and there might be enough intrigue surrounding BYU this season that the Cougars also will turn on some TV sets when it comes to the postseason. But that's not supposed to matter to the committee, either. The only way the Cougars get in is if the committee thinks they are one of the top 11 teams in the nation (remember that the non-Power Five conferences are guaranteed one spot in the "playoff bowls").

The thought here -- this week, at least -- is that the Cougars are going to lose a game, which basically would eliminate them from the committee's consideration. And if they're bowl-eligible but not in one of the playoff bowls, the Cougars are contractually obligated to the new Miami Beach Bowl, where their opponent would be an AAC team.

Remember that four bowls have been added 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 selection 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.

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

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: Nevada 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: Boise State vs. Oregon State

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. Utah State

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: Ball State vs. Fresno 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: Bowling Green 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: East Carolina 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
Note: If this matchup comes to fruition, SDSU would be playing in its home stadium.

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

POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL

Site: Nassau
Date: Dec. 24
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mid-American
Projection: Old Dominion vs. Toledo

HAWAII BOWL

Site: Honolulu
Date: Dec. 24
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mountain West No. 3/4
Projection: Middle Tennessee State vs. Colorado State
Note: One thing to remember about this game is that it makes sense to take a Mountain West team that does not play at Hawaii during the regular season. Colorado State does not. Other MWC teams that look to have a shot at a bowl bid that do play in Honolulu during the regular season are Nevada, Utah State and Wyoming.

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL

Site: Dallas
Date: Dec. 26
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 9 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. 8
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

MILITARY BOWL

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

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: Louisville 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: 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. 7
Projection: Pitt 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: Penn State vs. USC

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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. LSU

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: Virginia Tech 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: Miami vs. Missouri

SAN FRANCISCO BOWL

Site: Santa Clara, Calif.
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: 10 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 6 vs. Pac-12 No. 4
Projection: Michigan vs. Arizona State

PEACH BOWL

Site: Atlanta
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 12:30 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: Auburn vs. Marshall

FIESTA BOWL

Site: Glendale, Ariz.
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 4 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: Michigan State vs. UCLA

ORANGE BOWL

Site: Miami
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 8 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. The bowl has a contractual agreement with the ACC.
Projection: Clemson vs. Wisconsin

COTTON BOWL

Site: Arlington, Texas
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 12:30 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: Baylor vs. Texas A&M

CITRUS BOWL

Site: Orlando
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 12:30 p.m., ABC
Matchup: Big Ten No. 2 vs. SEC No. 2
Projection: Ohio State vs. Georgia
Note: The bowl went back to its old name this week; it recently had been known as the Capital One Bowl.

OUTBACK BOWL

Site: Tampa
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN2
Matchup: Big Ten No. 3 vs. SEC No. 3/4/5/6/7/8
Projection: Nebraska vs. South Carolina

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: Iowa vs. Florida

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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. Arizona

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. Boston College
Note: The projection is that the SEC won't be able to fill its slot. The bowl has a secondary agreement with the ACC; hence, the selection of Boston College.

GODADDY.COM BOWL

Site: Mobile, Ala.
Date: Jan. 4
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Ohio vs. Georgia Southern

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

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