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Roberts Poll: The second bowl projection update

Teams are entering post-season and we have our first bowl confirmation!

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Idaho v Colorado State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

We are back and working full-time to give you the finest bowl projections in the nation. By using our Roberts Poll ranking scheme, we predict which teams will go to which bowl game. We also predict the conference championship games across the country.

First, we used the Roberts Poll to determine the top 78 teams with six or more wins. Those were our eligible teams. We then took the listed pairings from this SB Nation article to use as many correct conference tie-ins as possible. Once we had those games, we removed match-ups that occurred earlier in the season.

If you are unfamiliar with the Roberts Poll, you are missing out. This is the formula we use to rank the teams. It basically comes down to a mathematical formula that takes the quality of a win or loss and combines it with margin of victory to assign a team points.

MAC Bowls:

Based on Roberts Poll rankings, only six MAC schools will attend bowls. The Buffalo Bulls did earn sixth win, which made them bowl-eligible. However, the Bulls finished 80th out of the currently bowl-eligible schools. Western Michigan was also on the bubble, but the Roberts Poll put them in the running for a bowl for now. With more games to play this week, it is possible the Broncos may fall out of the running.

Ohio has already received their bowl bid to be the first non-directional Michigan school in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl. The Bobcats will take on the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), who did not play a single game last year but dominated this year.

Most of these bowls make some sense, such as Akron and Appalachian State, a realistic pairing. The closest of the bowls would be the between Northern Illinois and Colorado State. That game is projected to be a shootout in the snow.

Other bowls make no sense at all. Western Michigan made the cutoff for bowl bids, but the MAC ran out of tie-ins, so the Broncos would take the Big Ten’s slot in the Quick Lane Bowl. Oddly enough, the ACC also does not have enough teams bowl eligible yet to fill their slots, so I sent a PAC-12 opponent to play the Broncos. It is not projected to be as close. Send help.

These are the expected MAC’s bowl games, as projected by the Roberts Poll. We thoughtfully included an over/under to give you an idea of the match-up.

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Montgomery, AL
Dec 16
Akron Zips vs Appalachian St. Mountaineers (-14)

Boca Raton Bowl
Boca Raton, FL
Dec 19
Central Michigan Chippewas vs North Texas Mean Green (-9)

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Confirmed)
Nassau, BAH
Dec 22
Ohio University Bobcats (-9) vs UAB Blazers

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Boise, ID
Dec 22
Northern Illinois Huskies (-2) vs Colorado State Rams

Dollar General Bowl
Mobile, AL
Dec 23
Toledo Rockets (-13) vs Arkansas State Red Wolves

Quick Lane Bowl
Detroit, MI
Dec 26
Western Michigan Broncos vs Oregon Ducks (-26)

Other Bowl Match-ups:

What would a bowl preview be without the remaining 34 bowl games? We compiled a full pairing of all bowls based on Roberts Poll rankings. The spread is based on Roberts Points earned per game played.

Once again, the Texas Longhorns and Texas A&M Aggies are expected to participate in the Texas Bowl. Oddly, Texas is expected to win this time around. My eyes will also be on the Military Bowl, which features Notre Dame fighting the Memphis Tigers. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are expected to fall to the Tigers by an exciting three-point margin.

I am quite proud of the way many of these pairings came together. For example, the Citrus Bowl is projected to be the Virginia Tech Hokies and LSU Tigers. Those schools are separated by one point in the Roberts Poll, implying an excellent game. In fact, 14 of the 40 bowls are expected to be settled by a field goal or less.

On the other hand, this is a rough projection and has its flaws. The Lockheed Martin Armed Forces between the Army Black Knights and the FIU Panthers is expected to have a margin of victory of 37 points for Army. Five games are expected to be decided by more than two possessions. Then again, that is all part of the fun, isn’t it?

So far, only one bowl has been confirmed. All of these pairings are projections, with the exception of the Bahamas Bowl:

Roberts Poll Bowl Pairings

Date Bowl Projected Winner Opponent Spread
Date Bowl Projected Winner Opponent Spread
Dec 16 AutoNation Cure Air Force Georgia State 5
Dec 16 Gildan New Mexico Boise State Florida Atlantic 7
Dec 16 Las Vegas San Diego State Washington State 3
Dec 16 R + L Carriers New Orleans Troy Marshall 28
Dec 16 Raycom Media Camellia Appalachian State Akron 14
Dec 19 Boca Raton North Texas Central Michigan 9
Dec 20 Frisco Utah SMU 3
Dec 21 Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Houston Southern Miss 12
Dec 22 Bahamas Ohio UAB 9
Dec 22 Famous Idaho Potato Northern Illinois Colorado State 2
Dec 23 Birmingham Navy Utah State 1
Dec 23 Dollar General Toledo Arkansas State 13
Dec 23 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Army Florida Int 37
Dec 24 Hawai'i South Florida Fresno State 1
Dec 26 Cactus Kansas State California 4
Dec 26 Quick Lane Oregon Western Michigan 26
Dec 26 Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Texas Tech UTSA 7
Dec 27 Foster Farms Arizona State Purdue 2
Dec 27 New Era Pinstripe Michigan Duke 35
Dec 27 Texas Texas Texas A&M 3
Dec 27 Walk-On's Independence Virginia Middle Tennesee 3
Dec 28 Camping World Louisville Iowa State 9
Dec 28 Military Memphis Notre Dame 3
Dec 28 SDCCU Holiday Stanford Northwestern 4
Dec 28 Valero Alamo USC Oklahoma State 5
Dec 29 Belk NC State Kentucky 18
Dec 29 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Iowa Missouri 9
Dec 29 Goodyear Cotton Penn State Auburn 4
Dec 29 Hyundai Sun Arizona Boston College 5
Dec 29 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Wyoming UCLA 3
Dec 30 AutoZone Liberty West Virginia Ole Miss 14
Dec 30 Capital One Orange Ohio State Miami (FL) 15
Dec 30 PlayStation Fiesta Washington TCU 3
Dec 30 TaxSlayer South Carolina Wake Forest 8
Jan 1 Chick-fil-A Peach Alabama UCF 11
Jan 1 Citrus Virginia Tech LSU Even
Jan 1 Outback Michigan State Mississippi State 3
Jan 1 Rose (CFP) Wisconsin Clemson 11
Jan 1 Sugar (CFP) Georgia Oklahoma 1
Jan 8 CFP National Championship Wisconsin Georgia 7
Spencer Roberts

Conference Championships:

This week we also projected the end-game for each conference to predict a champion. We listed an unofficial over/under for each game as well, based on Roberts Poll scoring. All times are in Eastern Standard Time Zone (EST).

Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL
Dec 2, 12:00 PM
Memphis Tigers vs UCF Knights (-18)

Central Florida earned their bid in the most MACtion-y game to happen outside of the MAC in a long time. The Knights are favored to beat Memphis by 18 points.

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Dec 2, 8:00 PM
Clemson Tigers (-10) vs Miami-Florida Hurricanes

Miami’s loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers did not affect their conference standing. The Hurricanes will take on Clemson as underdogs.

Big Ten:
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Dec 2, 8:00 PM
Wisconsin Badgers (-7) vs Ohio State Buckeyes

As I announced a bit early, Wisconsin and Ohio State will take each other on in the Big Ten Championship Game. Wisconsin enters the game with two more wins than the Buckeyes, but are only projected to be seven-point favorites. Expect a fun game.

Big 12:
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Dec 2, 12:30 PM
Oklahoma Sooners (-11) vs TCU Horned Frogs

Oklahoma and TCU square off for the recently restarted Big XVII Conference Championship Game. Oklahoma is expected to run away with the win, according to the Roberts Poll.

Conference USA:
FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, FL
Dec 2, 12:00 PM
Florida Atlantic Owls (-12) vs North Texas Mean Green

Both teams have been listed as playing in the Conference USA Championship Game since last week. The Conference USA will also have a few regular season games to watch next week, in case you want to watch something other than Lane Kiffin’s silly antics.

Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Dec 2, 12:00 PM
Toledo Rockets (-39) vs Akron Zips

This is the big one. All 130 teams secretly wish they could play in the MAC Championship Game. It oozes excitement. The Roberts Poll expects a Toledo blowout, but the poll also expected Ohio to be here, so there is that. As a person with a brain, I expect an excellent game between two exceptional teams.

Mountain West:
Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID
Dec 2, 7:45 PM
Boise State Broncos vs Fresno State Bulldogs (-1)

As I announced prematurely, Boise State and Fresno State are, indeed, playing for the Mountain West title. This year, Boise State hosts on their infamous blue turf. Fresno State is expected to win a thriller on the road.

Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Dec 1, 8:00 PM
USC Trojans (-2) vs Stanford Cardinal

This game will be another close one. USC will travel a few hours up the highway along California’s coast en route to a projected win. The weather forecast will not be announced because it will make the rest of us jealous.

Mercedez-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Dec 2, 4:00 PM
Georgia Bulldogs (-5) vs Auburn Tigers

Auburn beat the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl, earning a rivalry win, SEC Championship Game berth, and possibly a slot in the College Football Playoffs. The over/under on Nick Saban’s smiles this year is set at zero.

Sun Belt:
Appalachian St. Mountaineers
Troy Trojans

So far, my projections have come true. Appalachian State and Troy are each in the running for the Sun Belt Championship. The Arkansas State Red Wolves are also in the running, but face the Troy Trojans next week. Whichever team wins that game will take at least a share of the championship. In the event that Appalachian State wins their game this week, they will be crowned co-champions along with the winner of the Arkansas State-Troy game.