Because bowl pairings are decided by order of finish in a conference's final standings, CBS College Bowl projections are made by comparing projected conference finish positions against the available bowls. As of 2014, the top four teams in the country go to the College Football Playoff, and the bowls that College Football Playoff games take place in change annually. Each other bowl has a traditional pairing of conferences according to a specified conference finish order.
Bowl projections start by determining the four teams in the top four in the final rankings of the Playoff's selection committee. Six top bowls rotate each year as hosts of playoff games, and the top four teams go to that year's bowls. The next step in making a projection is to predict the final standings in each conference and order those teams from top to bottom.
All bowls have traditional pairings that the remaining top teams in each conference attend. For example, the Rose Bowl is the Big Ten's first place team against the Pac-12's first place team, and the Sugar Bowl is the SEC's first place team against the Big 12's first place team. Each other bowl has a similar contracted pairing, which means that projectors start from the top of the projected conference final standings and surmise each pairing based on the remaining teams. The actual bowl pairings may differ from projections if a team is selected as an at-large bid to a higher bowl or if a team's final standing differs from its predicted finish.