Bowl projections: The AAC champion looks set to make a New Year's Six bowl

The American Athletic Conference title game is shaping up to be a play-in game for a New Year’s Six bowl game.

As November approaches, it looks fairly certain that the winner of the AAC will be the top-ranked Group of Five team in the College Football Playoff rankings at the end of the season. And the AAC title race is very intriguing.

Tulane is atop the conference at the moment thanks to a 4-0 AAC record. Cincinnati is right behind at 3-0 and UCF and Houston are at 2-1. UCF lost its first AAC game of the season in Week 8 in a 34-13 loss to East Carolina.

Since the AAC doesn’t have divisions, the top two teams will meet in the conference title game. And Saturday features one of the games that will help determine the conference title matchup when UCF hosts Cincinnati.

We had the Knights as the AAC champions and in the Cotton Bowl in our first set of bowl projections. But with Tulane’s win over Memphis and UCF’s loss to ECU, the Green Wave are now penciled in to be the Group of Five representative as they enter their bye week.

To win the AAC, Tulane may have to win three games over UCF and Cincinnati across the final four weeks of the season. Tulane plays UCF on Nov. 12 and hosts Cincinnati in the final week of the season in what could be an early preview of the AAC title game if the Bearcats win on Saturday.

Don’t count out Houston from the AAC title mix either. The Cougars have already lost to Tulane and don’t have to face UCF or Cincinnati this season while four of its final five games of the season are against the teams currently in the bottom four of the AAC.

Our swap of UCF for Tulane was our only change in the New Year’s Six games from our first set of bowl projections since Week 8 was straightforward and many teams were off. While the Week 9 slate doesn’t look exceptionally strong, we anticipate some big changes over the next couple weeks as the bowl picture starts to get some clarity.

New Year's Six bowl games

Orange Bowl (Dec. 30)

Wake Forest vs. Tennessee

Sugar Bowl (Dec. 31)

TCU vs. Alabama

Peach Bowl (Dec. 31) [CFP semifinal]

Georgia vs. Michigan

Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 31) [CFP semifinal]

Ohio State vs. Clemson

Cotton Bowl (Jan. 2)

Oklahoma State vs. Tulane

Rose Bowl (Jan. 2)

Penn State vs. USC

Other bowl games

Bahamas Bowl (Dec. 16)

UTEP vs. Ball State

Cure Bowl (Dec. 16)

Liberty vs. Appalachian State

Fenway Bowl (Dec. 17)

Syracuse vs. Cincinnati

New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 17)

Air Force vs. North Texas

LA Bowl (Dec. 17)

Boise State vs. Washington

LendingTree Bowl (Dec. 17)

Miami (Ohio) vs. South Alabama

Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 17)

Utah vs. LSU

Frisco Bowl (Dec. 17)

Middle Tennessee State vs. SMU

Myrtle Beach Bowl (Dec. 19)

UTSA vs. Coastal Carolina

Potato Bowl (Dec. 20)

San Diego State vs. Ohio

Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 20)

Florida Atlantic vs. BYU

New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 21)

Western Kentucky vs. Southern Miss

Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 22)

Memphis vs. Texas Tech

Gasparilla Bowl (Dec. 23)

Wisconsin vs. Georgia Southern

Independence Bowl (Dec. 23)

Wyoming vs. Army

Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 24)

San Jose State vs. UAB

Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 26)

Michigan State vs. Toledo

First Responder Bowl (Dec. 27)

Rice vs. Washington State

Birmingham Bowl (Dec. 27)

South Carolina vs. Louisiana

Camellia Bowl (Dec. 27)

Buffalo vs. Troy

Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Dec. 27)

Iowa vs. Baylor

Military Bowl (Dec. 28)

Miami vs. UCF

Liberty Bowl (Dec. 28)

Kansas vs. Arkansas

Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28)

Pitt vs. UCLA

Texas Bowl (Dec. 28)

Texas vs. Texas A&M

Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 29)

Notre Dame vs. Minnesota

Cheez-It Bowl (Dec. 29)

North Carolina vs. Oklahoma

Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29)

Kansas State vs. Oregon

Duke’s Mayo Bowl (Dec. 30)

NC State vs. Maryland

Sun Bowl (Dec. 30)

Oregon State vs. Louisville

Gator Bowl (Dec. 30)

Duke vs. Mississippi State

Arizona Bowl (Dec. 30)

UNLV vs. Eastern Michigan

Music City Bowl (Dec. 31)

Purdue vs. Florida

ReliaQuest Bowl (Jan. 2)

Florida State vs. Kentucky

Citrus Bowl (Jan. 2)

Illinois vs. Ole Miss