How Are Teams Selected for Football Bowl Games?


Quick Answer

As of 2015, the current college football bowl season features the top 10 teams playing in five "contract" bowl games, which, including the National Championship Game, completes the "New Year's Six." The remaining games feature predetermined conference match-ups pitting teams from one conference against schools from another based on how they finished the regular season in the conference standings.

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How Are Teams Selected for Football Bowl Games?
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Full Answer

A 13-person selection committee ranks the top 25 teams in order and selects the top four to play in the College Football Playoff. The teams are seeded 1 through 4, with the top-ranked team by the committee playing the fourth-ranked club, the second- and third-seeded teams squaring off and the winners playing for the national championship.

In the 10-team system - consisting of the five "contract" bowls - the champions from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference are guaranteed a spot. The highest-ranked team of the remaining conferences - American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt - is also guaranteed a spot, while the remaining four teams are chosen at-large.

The other 35 college bowl games for the 2015-16 season feature the remaining teams qualifying for the postseason by attaining at least a 6 - 6 record. If not enough teams have qualified, 6 - 7 teams losing in their conference championship game or those playing a regular 13-game schedule may be used to fill the void(s). Pre-determined conference match-ups for the 2015-16 season include the Holiday Bowl (Big Ten versus Pac-12), Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Big Ten versus SEC) and Alamo Bowl (Big 12 versus Pac-12).

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