Bowl projections: South Carolina gets boost with Georgia win

Life as a bowl prognosticator can be difficult. Consider the case of South Carolina as an example.

Before the season, the Gamecocks were considered the best team in the SEC East and given a legit chance to make it into one of the so-called "playoff bowls." Then comes Week 1, when the Gamecocks are blown out by visiting Texas A&M. In Week 2, the Gamecocks muddle past East Carolina. In Week 3, the Gamecocks were to face a Georgia team that blew out Clemson to open the season, and conventional wisdom seemed to be that the Gamecocks would lose to the Bulldogs and thus be destined for a middle-tier bowl. Instead, South Carolina wins -- and finds itself again favored to win the SEC East. In addition, ECU upset Virginia Tech, which was coming off a win at Ohio State, and South Carolina's win over the Pirates suddenly looked a lot better. As for Texas A&M, the Aggies' opening victory in Columbia took on extra meaning because of South Carolina's win over Georgia -- and, in a way, ECU's win at Virginia Tech.

What all this means, of course, is that it is tough to truly get a read on a team until it has played five or six games.

Still, bowl prognosticators must carry on. Here are this week's projections (a fancy way for prognosticators to say "guesses").

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 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 the 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.

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

CAMELLIA BOWL

MIAMI BEACH BOWL

POINSETTIA BOWL

BOCA RATON BOWL

POPEYE'S BAHAMAS BOWL

Check out the top images from the third weekend of college football play.

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

Check out the alternate college football uniforms worn during the 2014 season.

TEXAS BOWL

MUSIC CITY BOWL

BELK BOWL

SAN FRANCISCO BOWL

PEACH BOWL

FIESTA BOWL

ORANGE BOWL

CAPITAL ONE BOWL

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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