Bowl projections: Penn State back in mix for postseason

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

SUGAR BOWL

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

THE OTHER BOWLS

NEW ORLEANS BOWL

ROYAL PURPLE BOWL

NEW MEXICO BOWL

IDAHO POTATO BOWL

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CAMELLIA BOWL

MIAMI BEACH BOWL

POINSETTIA BOWL

BOCA RATON BOWL

BAHAMAS BOWL

HAWAII BOWL

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL

QUICK LANE BOWL

ST. PETERSBURG BOWL

MILITARY BOWL

SUN BOWL

INDEPENDENCE BOWL

PINSTRIPE BOWL

HOLIDAY BOWL

LIBERTY BOWL

RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL

TEXAS BOWL

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MUSIC CITY BOWL

BELK BOWL

FIGHT HUNGER BOWL

PEACH BOWL

FIESTA BOWL

ORANGE BOWL

CAPITAL ONE BOWL

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OUTBACK BOWL

COTTON BOWL

ARMED FORCES BOWL

TAXSLAYER BOWL

ALAMO BOWL

CACTUS BOWL

BIRMINGHAM BOWL

GODADDY.COM BOWL

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

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