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Bowl projections: Florida State won't make national title game

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For the first time this season, the College Football 24/7 bowl projections don't have Florida State playing in the title game.

FSU is No. 1 in the CFB 24/7 Top 25 Power Rankings, but the thought here is that while FSU will be in the playoffs -- heck, go ahead and put the Seminoles in your bracket in pen -- the Seminoles are not one of the two best teams in the nation. Instead, the projection this week is that two SEC West teams will play for the title. FSU is not going to be tested the rest of the way, and that is going to hurt the 'Noles when they play in a national semifinal. The other three projected teams -- two from the SEC and one from the Pac-12 -- will be vastly more "battle-tested" in the season's second half than FSU.

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In addition, as we fully move into the second half of the season, bowl eligibility becomes more and more important to track.

Thus far, 16 teams have reached bowl eligibility -- five in the SEC, three in the ACC and Big Ten and one each from the Big 12, Conference USA, Mountain West, Pac-12 and independent ranks. There are 28 teams with five wins, so expect a relative flood of teams reaching the needed six wins in the next two or three weeks. Still, there will be a few bowl organizers -- not to mention coaches, players and fans -- sweating bowl eligibility out in mid- to late November.

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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 13-person playoff 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. (Just don't expect a non-Power five school to be in a four-team playoff.) We're still high on Marshall for that spot; the Herd should finish unbeaten. While East Carolina appears to be better than Marshall, the thought here is that the Pirates' defense is going to cost them a game. The question then becomes does a two-loss ECU team trump an unbeaten Marshall squad?

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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. For instance, Georgia and Nebraska have met in the past two postseasons; it's hard to imagine bowl organizers would match them for a third consecutive season.

Note: Start times listed are ET.

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ROSE BOWL

Site: Pasadena, Calif.
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 5 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Semifinal game this season.
Projection: Mississippi State 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. Auburn

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

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

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

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: Colorado State vs. Utah

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: Louisiana Tech 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: Bowling Green vs. Nevada

CAMELLIA BOWL

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

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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: 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. Toledo

POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL

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

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. Air Force
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. Air Force does not.

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL

Site: Dallas
Date: Dec. 26
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 9 vs. Conference USA
Projection: Rutgers vs. UAB

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: Virginia Tech vs. Iowa

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. Pittsburgh

MILITARY BOWL

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

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. Arizona

INDEPENDENCE BOWL

Site: Shreveport, La.
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 4 p.m., ESPN2
Matchup: ACC No. 10 vs. SEC No. 10
Projection: North Carolina vs. Oregon State
Note: Projection is the SEC won't fill its slot. Oregon State is the fill-in pick.

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: 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. USC

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. Arkansas

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: Duke vs. Oklahoma

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: Baylor 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: Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky

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: Virginia vs. South Carolina

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: Penn State vs. Washington

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: Mississippi 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: Arizona State vs. Michigan State

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. Notre Dame

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: Alabama vs. Kansas State

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; 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: Wisconsin vs. Missouri

ARMED FORCES BOWL

Site: Fort Worth, Texas
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN
Matchup: AAC vs. Army if bowl-eligible
Projection: Houston vs. Texas State
Note: The projection is that Army won't be eligible. Texas State is the fill-in 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: Minnesota vs. LSU

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: TCU vs. UCLA

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: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford

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. Northwestern
Note: The projection is the SEC won't be able to fill its slot; Northwestern is the fill-in pick.

GODADDY.COM BOWL

Site: Mobile, Ala.
Date: Jan. 4
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Central Michigan vs. South Alabama
Note: If this indeed is the matchup, South Alabama would be playing in its home stadium (Ladd-Peebles, which also plays host to the Reese's Senior Bowl).

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

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