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Bowl Projections: 2017's First Look at All 39 Projected Matchups

As Week 1 arrives, we’re getting a head start on the bowl speculation game before most teams even have a chance to bury their national title hopes.

As much drama as the College Football Playoff has brought to the sport, most FBS teams won’t be in a position to spend November tracking the inscrutable deliberations of the committee that decides the final four teams. With multiple losses on their ledger by that point, they’ll instead watch out-of-town scoreboards and press box credential lists, trying to predict which teams will get to six wins to become bowl eligible and which matchups the bowl organizers themselves are pursuing.

As Week 1 of the 2017 season arrives, we’re getting a head start on that speculation game before most teams have a chance to bury their national title hopes, sketching out a first look at how all 39 bowl games will shake out leading up to the College Football Playoff title game on Jan. 8 in Atlanta. These projections will come into more focus as each week of action unfolds; for now, all we have to go off of are preseason expectations, conference tie-ins and a general sense of which matchups might entice bowl and TV execs the most.

My five favorite hypothetical matchups from this year’s first edition of the projections:

1. Orange Bowl: Sure, it won’t quite mean as much as last year’s Fiesta Bowl semifinal, but don’t forget that two years prior Clemson and Ohio State turned an Orange Bowl matchup with no national title implications into one of the most compelling games of the season.

2. Texas Bowl, aka Borderline Erotic 2: Erotic Boogaloo: I’m not just saying this as a member of the media: If Bret Bielema and Tom Herman, two of the best talkers in the nation right now, ever get a chance to start beef, everyone wins.

3. Gasparilla Bowl: I’m not sure whether we’ve determined whether Tropicana Field’s turf counts as a “fast track”, but some serious points will be put up if even just one of UCF or Middle Tennessee makes it there. It feels like a safe assumption that Bad Boy Mowers is not trying to attach its brand to low-scoring, conservative football.

4. Military Bowl: Georgia Tech and Navy might combine for 800 rushing yards and wrap this game up in a tidy two hours.

5. Belk Bowl: With Brian Kelly and Will Muschamp patrolling opposite sidelines, every referee, player, coach and fan in that stadium would be one false word away from the chewing-out of a lifetime.

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Below, the early picks for all 39 bowls leading up to the title game.

Saturday, Dec. 16

R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans (1 p.m., ESPN)
Sun Belt vs. C-USA
Arkansas State vs. Western Kentucky

AutoNation Cure Bowl, Orlando, Fla. (2:30 p.m., CBSSN)
AAC vs. Sun Belt
SMU vs. Georgia Southern

Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas (3:30 p.m., ABC)
​MWC vs. Pac-12

Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque (4:30 p.m., ESPN)
Southern Miss vs. San Diego State

Raycom Media Camelia Bowl, Montgomery, Ala. (8 p.m., ESPN)
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Western Michigan vs. Troy

Tuesday, Dec. 19

Boca Raton Bowl, Boca Raton, Fla. (7 p.m., ESPN)
East Carolina vs. Old Dominion

Wednesday, Dec. 20

Frisco Bowl, Frisco, Texas (8 p.m., ESPN)
AAC vs. Sun Belt
Houston vs. Boise State

Thursday, Dec. 21

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, St. Petersburg, Fla. (8 p.m., ESPN)
Middle Tennessee vs. UCF

Friday, Dec. 22

Bahamas Bowl, Nassau, Bahamas (12:30 p.m., ESPN)
Florida Atlantic vs. Northern Illinois

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise (4 p.m., ESPN)
Ohio vs. Wyoming

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Saturday, Dec. 23

Birmingham Bowl, Birmingham, Ala. (12 p.m., ESPN)
Memphis vs. Vanderbilt

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Texas (3:30 p.m., ESPN)
Army vs. C-USA
Army vs. Louisiana Tech

Dollar General Bowl, Mobile, Ala. (7 p.m., ESPN)
MAC vs. Sun Belt
Toledo vs. Appalachian State

Sunday, Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu, (8:30 p.m., ESPN)
Tulsa vs. Hawaii

Tuesday, Dec. 26

Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dallas (1:30 p.m., ESPN)
Big 12 vs. C-USA
Minnesota vs. UTSA

Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit (5:15 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big Ten
Pittsburgh vs. Indiana

Cactus Bowl, Phoenix (9 p.m., ESPN)
Big 12 vs. Pac-12
TCU vs. Utah

Wednesday, Dec. 27

Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La. (1:30 p.m., ESPN)
Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, New York (5:15 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big Ten
Syracuse vs. Michigan State

Foster Farms Bowl, Santa Clara, Calif. (8 p.m., FOX)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Iowa vs. Washington State

Texas Bowl, Houston (9 p.m., ESPN)
Big 12 vs. SEC
Texas vs. Arkansas

Thursday, Dec. 28

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman, Annapolis, Md. (1:30 p.m., ESPN)
Georgia Tech vs. Navy

Camping World Bowl, Orlando, Fla. (5:15 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big 12
North Carolina vs. West Virginia

Valero Alamo Bowl, Big 12 vs. Pac-12, San Antonio, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Pac-12 vs. Big 12
USC vs. Oklahoma State

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, San Diego (9 p.m., FS1)
Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Northwestern vs. Stanford

Friday, Dec. 29

Belk Bowl, Charlotte, N.C. (1 p.m., ESPN)
Notre Dame vs. South Carolina

Hyundai Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas (2 p.m., CBS)
ACC vs. Pac-12
Miami vs. Oregon

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Nashville, Tenn. (4:30 p.m., ESPN)
SEC vs. Big Ten or ACC
Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech

Arizona Bowl, Tucson, Ariz. (5:30 p.m., CBSSN)
Sun Belt vs. MWC
Colorado State vs. Idaho

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Saturday, Dec. 30

TaxSlayer Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla. (12 p.m., ESPN)
SEC vs. Big Ten or ACC
Nebraska vs. Florida

AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn. (12:30 p.m., ABC)
Big 12 vs. SEC
Kansas State vs. Tennessee

Monday, Jan. 1, 2018

Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla. (12 p.m., ESPN2)
Big Ten vs. SEC
Wisconsin vs. Georgia

Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla. (1 p.m., ABC)
NC State vs. Mississippi State

New Year's Six Bowls

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, Arlington, Texas (Dec. 29, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)
At-large vs. At-large
South Florida vs. Penn State

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz. (Dec. 30, 4 p.m., ESPN)
At-large vs. At-large
Michigan vs. LSU

Capital One Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens, Fla. (Dec. 30, 8 p.m., ESPN)
ACC vs. Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame
Clemson vs. Ohio State

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Atlanta (Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m., ESPN)
At-large vs. At-Large
Auburn vs. Louisville

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual, Pasadena, Calif. (Jan. 1, 5 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinalist vs. CFP semifinalist
Florida State vs. Washington

Allstate Sugar Bowl, New Orleans (Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinalist vs. CFP semifinalist
Alabama vs. Oklahoma

College Football Playoff National Championship, Atlanta (Jan. 8, 8 p.m., ESPN)
CFP semifinal winner vs. CFP semifinal winner