There are an unprecedented 38 bowls this season, and there was some angst among bowl organizers that there would not be enough bowl-eligible teams to fill the available slots.
That concern has eased.
Remember that four bowls have been added this season, so when you include the two playoff semifinal games that will be played in bowls, 76 teams will be in the postseason -- or 59 percent of the 128 teams in the FBS ranks.
Thus far, 72 teams have reached bowl eligibility -- 11 in the SEC (including the entire seven-team West Division), nine in the ACC and Big Ten, eight in the Pac-12, six in the Big 12, Conference USA and Mountain West, five in the AAC, Mid-American and Sun Belt and two in the independent ranks. There are 17 teams that need one more victory, so bowl organizers can rest easy that there will be enough bowl-eligible teams.
There are two games matching two 5-6 teams: Virginia at Virginia Tech and Illinois at Northwestern; that means those rivalry games have a little more at stake than usual, as the winning team heads to the postseason and the loser settles in for a long offseason.
Other power-conference teams needing a victory in a rivalry game to get to the needed six wins are Tennessee (vs. Vanderbilt), Kentucky (vs. Louisville), Oregon State (vs. Oregon) and Michigan (vs. Ohio State). California (vs. BYU) and Pittsburgh (vs. Miami) are other five-win Power Five schools needing a win in their regular-season finale to become bowl-eligible.
Another thing to remember is that the selection committee responsible for choosing the four teams for the playoff also will select the eight teams that will be involved in the four other bowls associated with the playoff. This season, the playoff semifinals are in the Rose and Sugar bowls, meaning the 12-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.
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.
All times listed are Eastern.