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    Imposter's Bowl Projections (2019 Final Edition)

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    Welcome all to the final edition of bowl projections for the 2019 season. Thanks to Maryland's win Saturday night, the field has been set at 67 teams. Unfortunately, I do have to cut one team, and it's so much easier to cut the one team that doesn't have a coach (sorry Sam Hiller-Weeden). Of course, a lot can change over the course of the conference championship games, so these are by no means the final outlook. 


    Without further ado, here is the projected playoff field.


    Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA)

    Playoff #1 vs. Playoff #8

    :clemson: #1 Clemson Tigers (Proj. 13-0) vs. #8 Illinois Fighting Illini (10-2) :illinois:

    Clemson blasted rivals South Carolina while Illinois' defense dominated the Fighting Irish (and kept them out of a bowl themselves). The debate for 1-2 is a strong one still, with Penn State's resume looking more and more compelling, but Clemson still appears to be the best team in the nation. Through the chaos on Saturday, Illinois may have been helped by Wisconsin and LSU losing. The loser of the SEC conference championship game is virtually eliminated, as is the loser of the Big Twelve conference championship game. The Illini will be rooting hard for Penn State however.


    Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA)

    Playoff #2 vs. Playoff #7

    :PSU: #2 Penn State Nittany Lions (Proj. 13-0) vs. #7 Washington State Cougars (Proj. 11-2) :wsu:

    The Nittany Lions handled Northwestern to complete the 12-0 (1 of 3 to do so), and they received another boost with Minnesota knocking off Wisconsin in Madison. In what should be a slugfest, Penn State should come out on top, although a loss should not knock them out of the playoff. Washington State had mixed results this weekend. While a huge win over Washington capped off an amazing 10-2 season, their opponent in the Pac-12 conference championship game turned out to be Arizona State, which will do their resume no great favors. WSU is the Pac-12's last shot at the playoff.


    Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)

    Playoff #3 vs. Playoff #6

    :nevada: #3 Nevada Wolf Pack (Proj. 13-0) vs. #6 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-2) :bama:

    Nevada completed their own perfect regular season in a close game with UNLV, and now only Air Force stands between the Wolf Pack and a spot in the playoffs. For Alabama, a 52-yard game-winning field goal cemented both another Iron Bowl win and a likely spot in the playoffs. Alabama could potentially get in here over LSU, who defeated the Crimson Tide earlier this season.


    Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ)

    Playoff #4 vs. Playoff #5

    :vols: #4 Tennessee Volunteers (Proj. 12-1) vs. #5 Oklahoma Sooners (Proj. 12-1) :ou:

    Two somewhat controversial selections in their respecting conference championship games. The Vols handled Vandy for a return trip to Atlanta where they'll meet LSU for a spot in the playoffs. LSU haven't exactly fallen apart as of late, but losses to Utah and Arkansas raise too many questions to feel safe picking them. Oklahoma was stunned in Bedlam and now get Baylor with their own playoff hopes on the line. The winner of the Big Twelve gets likely the #5 spot, although that becomes #4 if LSU beats Tennessee or if Nevada falls to Air Force.


    And now on to the rest of the bowls.


    Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL)

    :bigten: vs. :sec:

    :minnesota: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Proj. 10-3) vs. LSU Tigers (Proj. 10-3) :lsu:

    Minnesota put themselves firmly in the playoff discussion again with a huge win in Madison, but a loss to Penn State would knock the Gophers right back out. It's still a huge accomplishment for Minnesota to get back to Lucas Oil after losing to both Maryland and Illinois. LSU has almost capitulated after getting out to a thrilling 9-0 start, and a playoff exit is now certain if they were to lose to the Vols. 


    Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL)

    :sec: vs. :bigten:

    :msst: Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-3) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (10-2) :wisconsin:

    The Bulldogs almost laid an egg in the Egg Bowl, narrowly beating Ole Miss in overtime. Regardless, the win now cements the Bulldogs at the SEC's 4th-slot in the pecking order, and with two SEC teams almost guaranteed to make the playoff field, Tampa looks certain. Wisconsin has to be feeling it after Minnesota's game-winning field goal cost the Badgers a shot at a conference title and, more importantly, a national title. Their bowl placement will depend on where Illinois ends up.


    Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)

    :bigtwelve:vs. :pac:

    :baylor: Baylor Bears (Proj. 11-2) vs. USC Trojans (10-2) :usc:

    Baylor has to fancy their chances against the Sooners now that Oklahoma State has exposed their defense, but Baylor runs a very different offense from the 'Pokes. Baylor either ends up here or in the playoffs depending on this game against Oklahoma. USC did their job but didn't get a result from Arizona, meaning their once-bright playoff hopes have all but vanished. 


    Cactus Bowl (Phoenix, AZ)

    :bigtwelve:vs. :pac:

    :kansas: Kansas Jayhawks (8-4) vs. Oregon Ducks (10-2) :oregon:

    Kansas wrapped up their season with a solid win over Border War rivals Missouri, while Oregon plastered rivals Oregon State. Expectations were high for these two teams this season, but a bowl game against each other in the desert would be very enticing given Kansas' explosive offense and Oregon's insane pass rush.


    Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN)

    :sec: vs. :bigtwelve:

    :vandy: Vanderbilt Commodores (9-3) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-4) :okst:

    Vandy's conference title hopes and long-shot playoff hopes were dashed once again by their rivals from Knoxville, all but securing the 'Dores as Liberty Bowl participants. Oklahoma State shocked the world with a monumental victory in Bedlam, but that won't be enough to usurp Kansas in the Cactus Bowl, also securing the 'Pokes a spot in Memphis.


    Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL)

    :sec: vs. :bigten:

    :arkansas: Arkansas Razorbacks (8-4) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (9-3) :purdue:

    The Razorbacks delivered in a stunning offensive showing in Baton Rouge, upsetting the Tigers 31-29 and locking in an 8-win season. Purdue gets knocked down the pecking order due to Minnesota's result, which could effectively end the Big Ten's chances of three playoff teams. C.J. Sheffield's sending off party will likely have to take place in Jacksonville, which would be a slight disappointment to the Boilermakers given preseason expectations.


    Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA)

    :bigten: vs. :pac:

    :nebraska: Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (8-5) :asu:

    The Cornhuskers ended their season with a dominating win over Iowa two weeks ago, but the congestion at the top of the conference pushes the Huskers to the Holiday Bowl. The Sun Devils' wild ride continues to Pasadena after edging out Arizona in the Territorial Cup, but a conference championship will be the ceiling for ASU, assuming they can knock off the Cougs.


    Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN)

    :acc: vs. :sec:

    :pitt: Pittsburgh Panthers (Proj. 9-4) vs. Missouri Tigers (7-5) :mizzou:

    The Panthers' stunning run to the ACC title game continued with a solid win over West Virginia, but knocking off Clemson would be a huge task in itself (not impossible given their first meeting). Missouri will conclude the season in Nashville likely after failing to beat Kansas in the Border War. That loss to the Gamecocks is really sticking out now.


    Weis Bowl (Charlotte, NC)

    :sec: vs. :acc:

    :uga: Georgia Bulldogs (7-5) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (10-2) :uva:

    Georgia's last outing against an ACC team was one to behold, with the 'Dawgs thoroughly spanking rivals Georgia Tech (and ending the Jackets' bid for a bowl). Virginia survived the Hokies to secure a landmark 10th win of the season, though an ACC title would be sorely missed due to the loss to the Panthers.


    Frozen Bowl (Green Bay, WI)

    :sec: vs. :american:

    :auburn: Auburn Tigers (6-6) vs. Temple Owls (Proj. 10-3) :temple:

    Auburn's hearts were broken by the Tide as a 52-yarder went through as time expired, but Auburn does return to a bowl thanks to a huge win over Tennessee earlier in the year. I still favor Temple to win on a neutral field against SMU, but both teams have a legitimate shot of ending their season at Lambeau.


    Texas Bowl (Houston, TX)

    :sec: (fill-in) vs. :bigtwelve:

    :smu: SMU Mustangs (Proj. 10-3) vs. Texas Longhorns (6-6) :texas:

    A loss to Temple won't overshadow a great season for the 'Stangs, and they'll end up in Houston as easily the best team available. Texas was routed by another 10-win team in-state just two weeks ago against Baylor, and it's not hard to imagine a repeat scenario against SMU.


    Arizona Bowl (Tucson, AZ)

    :mwc: vs. :CFBHC:

    :airforce: Air Force Falcons (Proj. 10-3) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (8-4) :colorado:

    Air Force - Nevada is set to be a fantastic game in the MWC championship game, but I still favor the Wolf Pack ever so slightly. Colorado moves up as the best team available due to Georgia State's shortcomings. The Buffs' turnaround has been incredible, and that was showcased in a thrilling win over Colorado State (despite Conroy's other ideas).


    Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando, FL)

    :bigtwelve:vs. :acc:

    :wvu: West Virginia Mountaineers (6-6) vs. Syracuse Orange (9-3) :cuse:

    The Mountaineers fell short of a 7th win against rivals Pittsburgh, but getting back to a bowl after last season was accomplishment enough. Syracuse continued their 1.5-season upswing with a huge win over Boston College two weeks ago, and they'll all but be ensured of a spot in Orlando. 


    Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, TX)

    :pac: vs. :mwc:

    :cal: California Golden Bears (7-5) vs. Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors (7-5) :hawaii:

    The Golden Bears faded hard down the stretch, and the loss to Stanford showcased their capitulation. Still, 7 wins is a huge improvement over last season's campaign, and Cal should welcome any bowl game. Hawai'i couldn't beat out SHW and Fresno, but at 7-5, they should end up in Fort Worth (barring an Air Force upset).


    Land of 10,000 Lakes Bowl (Minneapolis, MN)

    :bigten: vs. :mac:

    :rutgers: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-4) vs. Toledo Rockets (Proj. 11-2) :toledo:

    Rutgers fell just shy of that 9th win with a loss to the Terrapins, but the Scarlet Knights still put together a solid season given circumstances. Toledo will take on Ohio in the MAC title game, but the playoffs are too far gone for the Rockets, and a win would conversely secure a spot in Minneapolis.


    Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD)

    :american: vs. :acc:

    :ecu: East Carolina Pirates (8-4) vs. Florida State Seminoles (9-3) :fsu:

    East Carolina did their part and have all but locked themselves into the Military Bowl (USF's loss certainly helped). Florida State will almost certainly end up here, which is a mild disappointment considering the 'Noles were ranked #1 for several weeks. 


    Peony Bowl (Ann Arbor, MI)

    :pac: vs. :bigten:

    :zona: Arizona Wildcats (6-6) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-5) :osu:

    How fitting is this? Two teams ranked in the Top 5 at the start of the season meeting in one of college football's biggest environments? Zona's underwhelming regular season ended with a loss to the Sun Devils, while the Buckeyes, in this same venue this weekend, finally ended their losing streak to Michigan in emphatic fashion. OSU could be looking for two wins in Ann Arbor this season?


    Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA)

    :acc: vs. :american:

    :bc: Boston College Eagles (8-4) vs. South Florida Bulls (8-4) :usf:

    The Eagles weren't able to get over Syracuse and thus ended their season outside the ACC's top 5. Shreveport is not what Eagles' fans had in mind, especially given their run to the title game last season. USF was shattered in a close loss to UCF, but at 8-4, they get this spot above the 7-5 Knights.


    Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx, NY)

    :acc: vs. :bigten:

    :vt: Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6) vs. Maryland Terrapins (6-6) :maryland:

    The Hokies were crushed by Virginia, but not in the blowout fashion, and they'll likely end up in the Bronx at 6-6. Maryland did what they had to do and beat Rutgers, making sure this season full of upsets didn't go to waste.


    Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas, TX)

    :pac: vs. :cusa:

    :utah: Utah Utes (6-6) vs. Rice Owls (Proj. 9-4) :rice:

    Utah got the win over BYU to propel themselves to a bowl game after a slow start to the season, while Rice should be heavily favored to win the C-USA title over Marshall for the second time in as many years. 


    Mile High Bowl (Denver, CO)

    :acc: vs. :pac: (fill-in)

    :louisville: Louisville Cardinals (6-6) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (7-5) :sdsu:

    Louisville did what they had to do by beating Kentucky in Lexington, wrapping themselves up a spot in Denver. San Diego State fills in for the Pac-12 as the best available, and a big shutout win over San Jose State confirms that.


    Hawai'i Bowl (Honolulu, HI)

    :mwc: (fill-in) vs. :american:

    :gsu: Georgia State Panthers (7-5) vs. UCF Knights (7-5) :ucf:

    I can't wrap my head around the Panthers' latest loss to UAB, but that'll move them down quite a few spots (only reason GSU is here and not in Denver is because of the UL-GSU rematch). UCF got a nice win over South Florida but will still end up here based on overall record. 


    Bahamas Bowl (Nassau, Bahamas)

    :mac: vs. :cusa:

    :wmu: Western Michigan Broncos (9-3) vs. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (9-3) :usm:

    The Broncos wrapped up a stellar season with a solid win over CMU, claiming the Michigan MAC Trophy in the process. USM had defeated Louisiana Tech two weeks ago to likely clinch this spot in the postseason. I stand by my word that this will be the marquee G5 matchup this postseason.


    Bourbon Bowl (Louisville, KY)

    :CFBHC: vs. :bigtwelve:

    :msu: Michigan State Spartans (6-6) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (6-6) :isu:

    Sparty got the win over Indiana and was boosted by Michigan's loss to the Buckeyes. Iowa State clutched it out against Kansas State, meaning this season of unfulfilled expectations in Ames will end in Louisville.


    Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego, CA)

    :mwc: (fill-in) vs. :mac:

    :byu: BYU Cougars (6-6) vs. Buffalo Bulls (8-4) :buffalo:

    BYU faltered down the stretch with losses to Tulane and Utah, but 6-6 will be good enough for the Cougars. Buffalo unfortunately didn't get the help they needed from Miami (OH), but 8-4 and a trip out west is still big for Mamadou Smash and the Bulls.


    Boca Raton Bowl (Boca Raton, FL)

    :mac: vs. :american:

    :ohio: Ohio Bobcats (Proj. 7-6) vs. Navy Midshipmen (6-6) :navy:

    Ohio got the big win over the Redhawks to ensure a return trip to the MAC title game, this time against Toledo. Navy beat out Army to secure that 6th win and is all but guaranteed a trip to Boca Raton. 


    Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise, ID)

    :mac: vs. :mwc: (fill-in)

    :cmu: Central Michigan Chippewas (6-6) vs. Michigan Wolverines (6-6) :michigan:

    CMU couldn't get the win over WMU to get a school-record 7th win, but wins over Toledo and Iowa continued their stretch of clutch performances over the last two seasons. Michigan faltered heavily in conference play, and landing in Boise is not at all what people had in mind. Sidenote: ignore last season's game in Ann Arbor. The two sides are much closer now.


    New Orleans Bowl (New Orleans, LA)

    :cusa: vs. :mwc: (fill-in)

    :marshall: Marshall Thundering Herd (Proj. 7-6) vs. NC State Wolfpack (6-6) :ncsu:

    Marshall got the win over ODU to secure a spot in the C-USA championship game, but barring a surprise victory over Rice, New Orleans is almost a lock. NC State had quite the scare against Wake Forest, but Schafer's game-winner brought NC State their first bowl appearance since 2016.


    New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM)

    :pac: (fill-in) vs. :mwc: (fill-in)

    :ttu: Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-6) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (6-6) :indiana:

    Texas Tech managed to beat out TCU and return to the postseason on a down year. Indiana followed their usual story of blowing it in conference play, but getting a perfect record out of conference ensures that the Hoosiers will make a surprise appearance in bowl season.


    Thank you all for allowing me to write these projections throughout the latter half of the season. I'll be sure to bring these back in 2020 (along with some more national media). This is ImposterCauster signing out for the last time this season. 

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    I just don't quite see how a 10-2 Illinois would get in over the loser of the SEC CCG, or even a 10-2 Wisconsin/Purdue. 


    And what if the B1G CCG is close, like a 14-13 game...wouldn't Minnesota be just as enticing as any of the others behind?


    (Nitpicks, really...I love when you do these projections!)

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    7 minutes ago, bingo415 said:

    I just don't quite see how a 10-2 Illinois would get in over the loser of the SEC CCG, or even a 10-2 Wisconsin/Purdue. 


    And what if the B1G CCG is close, like a 14-13 game...wouldn't Minnesota be just as enticing as any of the others behind?


    (Nitpicks, really...I love when you do these projections!)

    If LSU loses, they'd be 10-3 with losses that are arguably worse than Illinois', so I can put the Illini over LSU. Tennessee on the other hand would cause some fun debates. Same with lose or OU-Baylor, as it does already.


    Minnesota would be enticing given wins over Purdue and Wiscy, but also at 10-3 and losing the H2H to Illinois, I'd have to say it's a close miss if it's a close loss. 


    I'd love to answer any of your questions, nitpicks and all. That's the great speculation behind a really tight race like this!

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    Again, thanks for doing these IM!  A lot of hard work went into these, and it's always appreciated. Guess I should start scouting the Golden Eagles now....


    I notice that you didn't mention anything about my having played CMU. ಠ_ಠ  (Sorry, couldn't resist.)


    Also llamas please do beat Michigan.  Increasing MAC reputation and all, but also jmjacobs got greedy and swiped George Beckman from me when he was already leading on Harry Hughes.

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