College football bowl projections: Appalachian State’s surge continues, Kansas makes long-awaited return

It was an easy week for the teams at the top of the college football rankings — and for most of the top 25 in general. The highest-ranked team to get a challenge this week was Arkansas, which needed a late rally to put away former Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino’s Missouri State team.

Because of this, there is no change to the College Football Playoff projection, but there is one for the New Year’s Six. As good as last week was for the Sun Belt, the conference slide backwards this week. Marshall came out flat after the win at Notre Dame, losing to Bowling Green in overtime. Louisiana also lost at Rice, and Appalachian State needed a tip drill Hail Mary to beat Troy at home.

A win is a win, though, and App State replaces Marshall as the Group of Five representative in the Cotton Bowl.

As far as top 25 teams that lost this week, BYU and Miami each lost to lower-ranked opponents on the road, while Michigan State fell at soon-to-be-ranked Washington. BYU loss to Oregon basically eliminates the Cougars’ chances for a CFP bid. They still have a schedule that gives them an opportunity to play their way into the New Year’s Six; however, as an independent, BYU cannot qualify for the Group of Five spots, which goes to the highest-ranked conference champion among those leagues.

BYU’s only path to the New Year’s Six is ​​as an at-large team, which is the same for every independent. As noted in previous columns, the only at-large spot in the New Year’s Six this season is in the Cotton Bowl. against the highest-ranked Group of Five champions.

College Football Playoffs

Jan. 9

National Championship
Inglewood, Calif.

Game titles Semi-final winners

Dec. 31

Peach Bowl


(1) Georgia vs. (4) Oklahoma

Dec. 31

Fiesta Bowl
Glendale, Aris.


(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Alabama

New Year’s Six bowl games

There is a new name in this week’s bowl projections that has not been here for quite some time. Kansas finds itself in the field after not having played in a bowl game since 2008 when the Jayhawks finished 8-5 and found a spot in the Insight Bowl. In fact, the last time KU won more than three games was the following year when the Jayhawks finished 5-7 in Mark Mangino’s final season.

This year’s Kansas team already has three wins and looks to have enough offense to get a few more. The Jayhawks are fifth in the nation in scoring offense at 51 points per game. Their last two wins have come at West Virginia and Houston. (The Cougars were thought to be one of the favorites in the AAC this season.)

Kansas has an important stretch coming up in their schedule. It has home games against Duke, Iowa State and TCU. The Jayhawks could qualify for a bowl with wins in those three games. They may need all three because the schedule gets much less favorable over the second half of the season.

Thanks to some upsets in Week 3, there is only one bowl team in this week’s projection that is expected to finish 5-7. That team is South Carolina, which has the highest APR of the projected 5-7 teams.

Northwestern was previously in the running for one of those spots, but a loss at home to Southern Illinois puts them out of the picture for now. The Wildcats are the first Power Five team to lose to an FCS opponent this season.

Don’t see your team? Check out the rest of Jerry Palm’s bowl projections after Week 3.