Teams & Conferences

College Football Playoff & Bowl Selection Rules, Breakdown


So you want to know how this whole thing works? Want to know how they pick the bowls and the College Football Playoff? Here you go.


College Football Playoff & Bowl Selection Rules and Breakdown

Latest Bowl Projections

Scroll down for the official selection rules and guidelines

You really want to know everything there is to know about the College Football Playoff, the bowl games, and all conference-by-conference breakdowns?

Yeah, so do the bowls and conferences.

Trying to figure out the bowl picture is a little like trying to herd cats – all the conferences and bowls, tie-ins or not, are putting the pieces of the puzzle together, too – but there are some guidelines to go by.

So here we go. This is everything you possibly need to know about creating the college football post-season and what all the bowl types are dealing with.

If you have any other questions, fire away @PeteFiutak

The Ground Rules For Bowl Selection

– The College Football Playoff committee puts the top four teams in its final rankings into the CFP games. This year, two play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, two will play in the Fiesta Bowl.

– The College Football Playoff committee can select any four teams it wishes. The goal is to put in the four best teams, however, there’s a very, very heavy emphasis on giving preference to the conference champions. The committee doesn’t have to take conference champs – it doesn’t have to take anyone it doesn’t want to.

– The College Football Playoff committee then slots the other New Year’s Six Bowls from the top 12 teams, except where conference tie-ins matter.

Rose Bowl: Big Ten vs. Pac-12, no matter what. Conference champs go here if they’re not in the College Football Playoff.

Sugar Bowl: SEC vs. Big 12, no matter what. Conference champs go here if they’re not in the College Football Playoff.

Orange Bowl: ACC team, no matter what – conference champ goes here if it’s not in the CFP – vs. the Big Ten, Big 12 or SEC.

Cotton Bowl: The highest-ranked Group of Five champion (American Athletic, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West or Sun Belt) vs. the top-ranked team left according to the College Football Playoff rankings that doesn’t fit into the other slots.

– For all the bowl tie-ins by conference, here you go.

– Okay, now to get into the process. Time to get way wonky and hear the straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth selection rules for bowl games.

To sum up the basics – and to take a few giant leaps to get there – bowls will pick according to their contracted deals and tie-ins. However, if there aren’t enough teams to fill in the spots, the bowls can then pick from a pool of available teams with six wins.

If there aren’t enough of those, the selection pool gets into the schools with the highest Academic Progress Rate. That’s not as easy to do as you might think to do, but at the moment, North Texas, Mississippi State and Texas are the biggest beneficiaries.

The following comes straight cut-and-paste from the bowl selection people. Deep breath …

Selection of Institutions For Bowl Games

Access
A bowl game must serve the purpose of providing a national contest between eligible teams. The competing institutions shall be active members of the Association, and participation shall be in accordance with the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 17.9 and Bylaw 18.7.2.

Eligible Teams
An eligible team is defined as one that has won a number of games against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponents that is equal to or greater than the number of its overall losses (e.g., a record of 6-6, or better). Tie or forfeited games do not count in determining won-lost record.

Exception – FCS Opponent
Each year, a FBS institution may count one victory against a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent that has averaged 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of grants-in-aid per year in football during a rolling two-year period. However, The Football Oversight Committee may approve a waiver of the 90 percent requirement to permit a FBS institution to count a victory against a FCS opponent toward meeting the definition of a “deserving team,” if a unique or catastrophic situation affects the FCS institution’s ability to average 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of football grants-in-aid per year during a rolling two-year period.

Exception – Deserving Team That Loses Conference Championship Game
An institution that finishes its regular season having met the definition of a “deserving team” but loses its conference championship game shall continue to be considered a deserving team.

Insufficient Number of Deserving Teams
If an insufficient number of institutions does not meet the definition of a “deserving team” to participate in postseason bowl games in a particular year, an institution that meets a condition set forth below shall be eligible as an alternate to be selected to participate in such a bowl game after all deserving teams have been selected to participate. All institutions that meet the first condition must be selected before an institution that meets the second condition may be selected and so forth in descending order. The conditions below represents the order in which alternates are identified in the event there are insufficient number of deserving teams:

1. An institution that would have met the FCS Opponent exception but for the fact that one victory was against a FCS opponent that had not averaged 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of grants-in-aid per year in football during a rolling two-year period and the institution’s waiver request was denied.

2. An institution that participated in 13 regular-season contests and finished the season with a record of six wins and seven losses.

3. An institution that is in its final year of reclassification from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision and meets the definition of a “deserving team”.

4. An institution that finished its season with a minimum of five wins and a maximum of seven losses and achieves a multiyear football APR score that permits participation in the postseason (e.g., 930) to be identified as alternates in descending order of the most recently published multiyear FBS football APR scores. If the APR in the FBS for the most recent reporting year ends in a tie between two or more teams, then the single-year APR in the FBS, beginning with the most recent reporting year and continuing until the tie is broken, shall be used to determine which team(s) will be identified as alternates. An alternate’s institution must affirmatively state where the team will participate, if selected as an alternate. If the alternate’s institution elects to participate, then the identified alternate’s institution is responsible for selecting which of the remaining postseason bowl games the alternate will participate in, and the terms of that participation shall remain the same as the terms with the originally contracted conference