Bowl projections: After a seven-spot drop in the CFP rankings, Alabama falls all the way to the Outback Bowl

Could Alabama end up in a bowl game it hasn’t appeared in since 1997?

The Crimson Tide fell to No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night. It’s the lowest ranking Alabama has ever had in any set of playoff rankings. And the Crimson Tide could end up paying a hefty bowl price as a result.

Alabama slides all the way to the Outback Bowl in our last set of bowl projections because of that (relatively) low ranking. If you’re wondering how that could happen, let’s go through the scenario.

• No. 2 LSU makes the College Football Playoff as one of the top four teams in the rankings and beats No. 4 Georgia in the SEC championship game. Utah makes the playoff as the No. 4 team after a win over Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.

• No. 4 Georgia ends up as the No. 2-ranked SEC team and heads to the Sugar Bowl.

• No. 8 Wisconsin loses to No. 1 Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game and at least one of the Badgers and the loser of the Big 12 championship game between No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 7 Baylor stays in the top 10 of the rankings and ahead of Alabama and Auburn. As a result, the team that stays ahead of the two SEC teams goes to a New Year’s Six bowl as an at-large team.

• No. 11 Auburn is the top-ranked team that doesn’t go to a New Year’s Six bowl and the Tigers stay ahead of the Crimson Tide since neither team is playing on conference championship weekend. Because Auburn is ahead of Alabama, it gets the SEC’s spot in the Citrus Bowl and bumps Alabama to the Outback Bowl.

A team gets left out

There are 79 bowl-eligible teams for 78 spots. That means a team with six wins is getting left out of a bowl game. Sorry Eastern Michigan (6-6).

It would be the second time in nine years that Eastern Michigan got six wins but failed to make a bowl game. And the Eagles even beat Illinois earlier this season.

But the bowl miss happens because EMU finished with the same overall record as Toledo, Ohio and Kent State. Both Ohio and Kent State had 5-3 records in the MAC, so they get an advantage over EMU and Toledo. And Toledo beat EMU head-to-head, so the Rockets have an edge over the Eagles.

Here’s how we think the bowls will shake out on Sunday. You’ll notice that many of the matchups below don’t align to their contracted conference affiliations. That happens, in part, because the Big 12 and SEC have fewer bowl-eligible teams than they do bowl spots.

College Football Playoff

Peach Bowl

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Utah

Fiesta Bowl

No. 2 LSU vs. No. 3 Clemson

New Year’s Six bowls

Cotton Bowl

Memphis [highest-ranked Group of Five team] vs. Baylor [at-large]

Orange Bowl

Virginia [No. 2 ACC team] vs. Florida [at-large]

Sugar Bowl

Georgia [No. 2 SEC team] vs. Oklahoma [Big 12 champion]

Rose Bowl

Oregon [No. 2 Pac-12 team] vs. Penn State [No. 2 Big Ten team]

Other bowls

Bahamas Bowl, Dec. 20

Buffalo vs. Charlotte

Frisco Bowl, Dec. 20

SMU vs. Florida Atlantic

New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 21

Western Kentucky vs. San Diego State

Cure Bowl, Dec. 21

Tulane vs. Georgia State

Boca Raton Bowl, Dec. 21

Cincinnati vs. Central Michigan

Camellia Bowl, Dec. 21

Arkansas State vs. Ohio

Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 21

Boise State vs. Washington State

New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 21

UAB vs. Louisiana

Gasparilla Bowl, Dec. 23

UCF vs. Florida State

Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24

Hawaii vs. BYU

Independence Bowl, Dec. 26

Liberty vs. Southern Miss

Quick Lane Bowl, Dec. 26

Boston College vs. Illinois

Military Bowl, Dec. 27

Temple vs. North Carolina

Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 27

Pitt vs. Michigan State

Texas Bowl, Dec. 27

Kansas State vs. Texas A&M

Holiday Bowl, Dec. 27

Iowa vs. Washington

Cheez-It Bowl, Dec. 27

Air Force vs. Marshall

Camping World Bowl, Dec. 28

Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame

First Responder Bowl, Dec. 30

Louisiana Tech vs. Western Michigan

Music City Bowl, Dec. 30

Louisville vs. Mississippi State

Redbox Bowl, Dec. 30

Indiana vs. Cal

Belk Bowl, Dec. 31

Virginia Tech vs. Appalachian State

Sun Bowl, Dec. 31

Wake Forest vs. Arizona State

Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31

Iowa State vs. Kentucky

Arizona Bowl, Dec. 31

Nevada vs. Florida International

Alamo Bowl, Dec. 31

Texas vs. USC

Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1

Wisconsin vs. Auburn

Outback Bowl, Jan. 1

Minnesota vs. Alabama

Birmingham Bowl, Jan. 2

Navy vs. Miami

TaxSlayer Bowl, Jan. 2

Michigan vs. Tennessee

Potato Bowl, Jan. 3

Utah State vs. Miami, Ohio

Armed Forces Bowl, Jan. 4

Wyoming vs. Toledo

Mobile Bowl, Jan. 6

Georgia Southern vs. Kent State

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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