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2015-16 Bowl Projections – October 20, 2015

From Iowa becoming the first team to become bowl eligible, to Utah’s domination of Oregon, to the number of coaching jobs that are vacant, it has been a season filled with surprises, and we are only at the halfway point.  Starting today, and continuing on Mondays for the rest of the season, we’ll publish bowl projections from around the web, and offer commentary about the picks. We are starting with three experts and we are tracking others and we’ll add a few more in the next few weeks.  Beginning in November, we’ll make a bowl pick that we’ll call our “Crazy Bowl Projection” because when that we pick it, not a single expert that we are tracking will have the teams as an option.  We’ll explain how and why it happens, and we invite you to check our “Crazy” projections from the last few years.  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to the blog, and you’ll get the projections sent to you every Monday for the rest of the season.  Projections from experts follow, along with our analysis and commentary.

AutoNation Cure Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Washington vs. Arkansas State
  • Brett McMurphy – Tulsa vs. Arkansas State
  • Mark Schlabach – Tulsa vs. Appalachian State

New Mexico Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Rice vs. Boise State
  • Brett McMurphy – Rice vs.  New Mexico
  • Mark Schlabach – Rice vs. Air Force

 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl      

  • Jerry Palm – California vs. BYU
  • Brett McMurphy – Arizona State vs. Utah State
  • Mark Schlabach – Washington State vs. BYU

Camellia Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Toledo vs. Georgia Southern
  • Brett McMurphy – Ohio vs. Georgia Southern
  • Mark Schlabach – Northern Illinois vs. Southern Alabama

New Orleans Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Southern Miss vs. UL Lafayette
  • Brett McMurphy – Southern Miss vs. UL Lafayette
  • Mark Schlabach – Louisiana Tech vs. Arkansas State

Miami Beach Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Temple vs. Marshall
  • Brett McMurphy – Houston vs. Western Kentucky
  • Mark Schlabach – Houston vs. Western Kentucky

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Akron vs. Nevada
  • Brett McMurphy – Western Michigan vs. Boise State
  • Mark Schlabach- Ohio vs. Colorado State

Boca Raton Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Texas State  vs. Western Michigan
  • Brett McMurphy – Cincinnati vs. Bowling Green
  • Mark Schlabach – Temple vs. Western Michigan

 Poinsettia Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Utah State vs. Ohio
  • Brett McMurphy – San Diego State vs. USC
  • Mark Schlabach – San Diego State vs. Central Michigan Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Northern Illinois vs. Appalachian State
  • Brett McMurphy – Toledo vs. Appalachian State
  • Mark Schlabach – Toledo vs. Georgia Southern

Bahamas Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Middle Tennessee State vs. Bowling Green
  • Brett McMurphy – Louisiana Tech vs. Northern Illinois
  • Mark Schlabach – Bowling Green vs. Marshall

Hawai’i Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – East Carolina vs. Colorado State
  • Brett McMurphy – BYU vs. Washington
  • Mark Schlabach – East Carolina vs. Utah State

St. Petersburg Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Miami (FL) vs. Memphis
  • Brett McMurphy – Marshall vs. Temple
  • Mark Schlabach – South Florida vs. Middle Tennessee State

Sun Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Louisville vs. Arizona
  • Brett McMurphy –Pitt vs. Oregon
  • Mark Schlabach – North Carolina vs. UCLA

Heart of Dallas Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Washington State vs. Western Kentucky
  • Brett McMurphy – Middle Tennessee State vs. Kansas State
  • Mark Schlabach –Texas vs. Southern Miss

Pinstripe Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Duke vs. Minnesota
  • Brett McMurphy – Duke vs. Nebraska
  • Mark Schlabach – Pitt vs. Northwestern

Independence Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Virginia Tech vs. Missouri
  • Brett McMurphy – Louisville vs. Missouri
  • Mark Schlabach –Virginia Tech vs. Missouri

 Foster Farms Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Nebraska  vs. UCLA
  • Brett McMurphy – Northwestern vs. UCLA
  • Mark Schlabach – Nebraska vs. Arizona State

Military Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Pittsburgh vs. Navy
  • Brett McMurphy – Miami vs. Navy
  • Mark Schlabach – Boston College vs. Navy

Quick Lane Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Georgia Tech vs. Buffalo
  • Brett McMurphy – Georgia Tech vs. Illinois
  • Mark Schlabach – NC State vs. Illinois

Armed Forces Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Illinois vs. Air Force
  • Brett McMurphy – Indiana vs. Colorado State
  • Mark Schlabach – Indiana vs. Boise State

Russell Athletic Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State
  • Brett McMurphy – Florida State vs. Oklahoma
  • Mark Schlabach – Florida State vs. Oklahoma State

Arizona Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – San Diego State vs. Louisiana Tech
  • Brett McMurphy – Air Force vs. South Alabama
  • Mark Schlabach – Nevada vs. USC

Texas Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Auburn vs. West Virginia
  • Brett McMurphy – Auburn vs. West Virginia
  • Mark Schlabach – Texas A&M vs. Texas Tech

Birmingham Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Cincinnati vs. Kentucky
  • Brett McMurphy – East Carolina vs. Arkansas
  • Mark Schlabach – Cincinnati vs. Kentucky

Belk Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – N.C. State vs. Ole Miss
  • Brett McMurphy – N.C. State vs. Mississippi State
  • Mark Schlabach – Duke vs. Tennessee

Music City Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Penn State vs. Mississippi State
  • Brett McMurphy – Wisconsin vs. Tennessee
  • Mark Schlabach – Minnesota vs. Mississippi State

Holiday Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Arizona State vs. Wisconsin
  • Brett McMurphy – Arizona vs. Penn State
  • Mark Schlabach – California vs. Wisconsin

Peach Bowl –  Chosen by Playoff Selection Committee

  • Jerry Palm – Florida State vs. Houston
  • Brett McMurphy – LSU vs. Memphis
  • Mark Schlabach – Clemson vs. Memphis

Cotton BowlCollege Football Playoff

  • Jerry Palm – TCU vs. Alabama
  • Brett McMurphy – Baylor vs. Stanford
  • Mark Schlabach – Alabama vs. Ohio State

Orange BowlCollege Football Playoff

  • Jerry Palm – Ohio State vs. Clemson
  • Brett McMurphy –Clemson vs. Michigan State
  • Mark Schlabach – Baylor vs. Alabama

Outback Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Northwestern vs. Texas A&M
  • Brett McMurphy – Iowa vs. Georgia
  • Mark Schlabach – Penn State vs. Georgia

Citrus Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Michigan vs. Florida
  • Brett McMurphy – Michigan vs. Texas A&M
  • Mark Schlabach – Michigan vs. Florida

Fiesta Bowl –  Chosen by Playoff Selection Committee

  • Jerry Palm – Utah vs. Iowa
  • Brett McMurphy – Notre Dame vs. Florida State
  • Mark Schlabach – Notre Dame vs. Iowa

Rose Bowl –  Chosen by Playoff Selection Committee

  • Jerry Palm – Michigan State vs. Stanford
  • Brett McMurphy – Ohio State vs. Utah
  • Mark Schlabach – Michigan State vs. Stanford

Sugar Bowl –  Chosen by Playoff Selection Committee

  • Jerry Palm – LSU vs. Baylor
  • Brett McMurphy – Alabama vs. TCU
  • Mark Schlabach – LSU vs. TCU

TaxSlayer Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Georgia vs. North Carolina
  • Brett McMurphy – Ole Miss vs. North Carolina
  • Mark Schlabach – Ole Miss vs. Miami

Liberty Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Kansas State vs. Tennessee
  • Brett McMurphy – Texas Tech vs. Kentucky
  • Mark Schlabach – Kansas State vs. Auburn

Alamo Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Oklahoma vs. USC
  • Brett McMurphy – Oklahoma State vs. Cal
  • Mark Schlabach – Oklahoma vs. Arizona

Cactus Bowl

  • Jerry Palm – Oregon vs. Texas Tech
  • Brett McMurphy – Texas vs. Washington State
  • Mark Schlabach – Oregon vs. West Virginia

National Championship Game       January 11

THE EXPERTS DON’T AGREE ON MUCH –  Even though the season is only halfway over, I was still surprised that only there are only four of 80 bowl teams that were consensus picks among the three experts.  I was also surprised by two of the consensus picks, Michigan being placed in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and Missouri in the Independence Bowl.   It is definitely possible for the Wolverines to make it to the Citrus Bowl, but at this writing, they are 5-2, with games against Penn State and Ohio State remaining.  If you play the favorites (win the games they likely to be favored in), they’d be 9-3 at the end of the season.  Right now, it is possible (again playing the favorites) that the Big Ten could have an undefeated team, and two one-loss teams.  An undefeated Big Ten team would be in the College Football Playoff, the highest ranked team remaining would be in the Rose Bowl.  Could a third team from the Big Ten make it into games selected by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee?  That might be what it takes for Michigan to get to the Citrus Bowl.   Missouri surprised me as an Independence Bowl projection because the Tigers appeared in Shreveport in 2011, 2005 and 2003, and would have a match-up against an ACC team that would not be as big of a rival as a Big 12 or Big Ten team.  If the Tigers win more than six games, I would be surprised if the SEC doesn’t find a different bowl destination for Mizzou.

IOWA WAS THE FIRST team to achieve bowl eligibility this season.  The Hawkeyes made it through road tests at Iowa State, Wisconsin and Northwestern and are still undefeated.  They are likely to be favored in the remainder of their games, and hold divisional tie-breakers over Wisconsin and Northwestern, effectively giving the Hawks a two-game lead in the division.  If they win the division, they’ll get to play in the Big Ten Championship Game.  While they’d likely be an underdog to either Michigan State or Ohio State, remember that every year it has been played, the Big Ten Championship Game has been won by the underdog.

FLORIDA has been a pleasant surprise this season, as the Gators cruised to a 6-0 start, and played a solid game in a loss at undefeated LSU Saturday.  The Gators will be favored in at least three of their remaining games, and face Georgia at a neutral site and Florida State at home.   A win next Saturday against Georgia would likely propel the Gators to an appearance in the SEC Championship Game.

THERE ARE STILL 14 UNDEFEATED TEAMS in the Football Bowl Subdivision.   While mathematically, it’s possible for as many as nine teams to finish the regular season without a loss, it is extremely unlikely. In the last five years, only eight teams have finished the regular season without a loss.


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