Claire Komarek, CBS Sports

Barring something very unexpected, we now have one spot locked up for a specific New Year's Six game slot. This as Louisville was upset at home by in-state rival Kentucky, ruining the slim chances the Cardinals had of climbing into the College Football Playoff. Because the Orange Bowl will get the ACC champion -- if it is not in the CFP -- or the highest-rated conference team outside of the playoff, Louisville will be that team.

If Louisville wins the ACC crown over Florida State next Saturday, the Cardinals will go to the Orange Bowl as the league champion. If not, the Seminoles are in the playoff and Louisville will be the highest-rated ACC team available.

So, what could happen that falls into the "very unexpected" category? (1) FSU wins the ACC, but the CFP Selection Committee decides for the first time ever to leave an undefeated major-conference team out of the playoff. (2) FSU wins and advances into the CFP, but the committee drops the Cardinals below NC State despite Louisville having one more win and a road victory over the Wolfpack.

We will break down each team's path to the College Football Playoff later this week, but there are still eight teams in the running, four of which control their own fate: Georgia, Michigan, Washington and Florida State. It is not a coincidence that all those teams are currently undefeated. We have never had a CFP with four unbeaten teams, but then again, we've never had four undefeated teams this deep in a season during the CFP era.

College Football Playoff

Date Game / Loc. Matchup Prediction

Jan. 8

National Championship

Title game Semifinal winners
Jan. 1
Sugar Bowl
New Orleans
(1) Georgia  vs. (4) Oregon

Jan. 1

Rose Bowl
Pasadena, Calif.


(2) Michigan vs. (3) Florida State

New Year's Six bowl games

Date Bowl / Location Matchup Prediction

Jan. 1

Fiesta Bowl
Glendale, Ariz.

at-large vs. at-large

 Texas vs. Tulane

Dec. 30

Orange Bowl


Louisville vs. Ohio State

Dec. 30

Peach Bowl

at-large vs. at-large

Missouri vs. Penn State

Dec. 29

Cotton Bowl
Arlington, Tex.

at-large vs. at-large

Alabama vs. Washington

We will see some shuffling of bowl-conference pairings next season with the demise of the Pac-12 and expansion in the other major conferences. The Pac-12 has contracts with six bowls outside of the CFP. The Big Ten and Big 12 will probably end up with some of those spots next season.

The race to 82 bowl-eligible teams came to a reasonably satisfying end Saturday. We only ended up with 79 teams at 6-6 or better, but that left room for James Madison and Jacksonville State to get to the postseason when they would not have otherwise been eligible while making the FBS transition.

With JMU added as a fill-in, the Sun Belt will have 12 of its 14 teams in bowl games this season, half of those with 6-6 records. There are 12 bowls where a Sun Belt team could play, so that doesn't sound like a problem, except that the New Mexico Bowl usually gets a Conference USA team for its spot opposite the Mountain West and New Mexico State is eligible for the second straight season. Last year, the Aggies wound up in the Quick Lane Bowl filling in for the Big Ten, but ESPN gave the New Mexico Bowl a pretty good non-standard matchup instead. It would be a tough call to move New Mexico State out again this season.

Instead, I'm guessing that ESPN will ask the AAC to give up its spot in the Hawaii Bowl for the 12th Sun Belt team. With the SEC short a couple of eligible teams this season for its games, SMU is projected to fill in at the Liberty Bowl.

Minnesota will be the only 5-7 team in a bowl game this season. The Golden Gophers are just the second 5-7 team to play in a bowl for reasons not related to COVID-19 since the number of bowls expanded in 2017. Rice in 2022 is the other team, so this will be the second consecutive season with a 5-7 team.

This is the week where we get some leaks about potential bowl matchups, so I will be updating the bowl projection page as information becomes available. The Bahamas Bowl is usually announced this week so that teams have extra time to prepare for international travel, but the bowl had to move Charlotte this season because of stadium renovations. That means it will likely get announced next Sunday with the other games.

Don't see your team? Check out Jerry Palm's bowl projections after Week 13. And be sure to check out our rolling bowl eligibility tracker for the 2023-24 qualifiers.