Now that the first College Football Playoff poll is out, we can get into the nitty-gritty of potential bowl matchups. It’s not too early to think about it, don’t worry.
We’re looking into those big and fancy New Years Six Bowls specifically (sorry, Belk Bowl). Fortunately, with the rules for seeding teams in the bowl games, group of five schools aren’t left out of this conversation.
PLEASE NOTE: These scenarios are based on if the playoff and bowls were set based on the Week 9 CFP Poll:
Things will change as the season goes on, and that is understood.
Peach Bowl (CFP Semi-Final Game)
Even if it wasn’t a playoff game, it would still be at-large bowl giving traditionalists a peace of mind. It has yet to be announced which matchup (No. 1 vs No. 4 or No.2 vs No. 3) will be representatives for those bowl games this year. To make up for that, the 2017 CFP (the last time these two bowls were playoffs games) will be a point of reference. Last time, the playoff game between the No. 1 seed and the No. 4 seed was played at the Peach Bowl.
If the same seeding is used again, then the matchup will be:
No. 1 Ohio State vs No. 4 Penn State
Nothing like a Big Ten rematch from the regular season in a playoff game.
Fiesta Bowl (CFP Semi-Final Game)
Again, another at-large bowl that is a playoff game. Put the pitch forks and torches down.
Last time the Fiesta Bowl was a playoff game, it hosted the game between the No. 2 seed and the No. 3 seed.
Therefore, if the game was today:
No. 2 LSU v No. 3 Alabama
Three of the five Power Five Conferences would be left unrepresented in the playoff if it started today. A loss or two by these current playoff teams could give Clemson or the Big 12 and/or Pac-12 champion a shot at making the playoff.
Sugar Bowl (SEC-Big 12 Tie In)
The Sugar Bowl will go to the highest rated SEC and Big 12 teams that don’t make the playoff. By the end of the season, it will likely be the teams that lost the SEC and Big 12 Championship games. As of now, there are no Big 12 teams in the playoff. So, that Big 12 Champ is going to the Sugar Bowl in this scenario. The most likely Big 12 Champion is Oklahoma. With Alabama and LSU in the playoff, that leaves the highest ranked SEC team after those two and the likely SEC East champion: Georgia.
So, there’s this year’s Sugar Bowl if it were played today:
No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 9 Oklahoma
Orange Bowl (ACC-SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame Tie In)
This is where reality will be acknowledged for the first time. By the time Jan. 1 rolls around, the ACC rep will likely be Wake Forrest. Clemson will likely be in the playoff and it’s not going to a three-loss Virginia. However, this is based on if the game was played now, so Clemson is in the Orange Bowl. Now, who would they play? Of the remaining SEC and Big Ten teams, the highest ranked team is Florida.
So, for the first time since 1961, college football will see:
No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 10 Florida
Rose Bowl (Pac-12 Big Ten Tie In)
At this point, we have a better idea of who is playing in the granddaddy of them all. Despite one less win, Wisconsin has edged out Michigan in the CFP. With Florida already in the Orange Bowl, it’s a wonder who they will play if not the Pac-12 rep. Speaking of the Pac-12 rep, the highest ranked team in the CFP is Oregon.
While in reality the game will likely be between Penn State and Utah, this is the matchup as of now:
No.7 Oregon vs. No. 12 Wisconsin
Cotton Bowl Classic (At-Large/Group of Five)
Here is where the group of five teams come in. The Cotton Bowl is at-large so it’s guaranteed that the new years six rep from the group of five conferences will be in the Cotton Bowl. As of now, the highest ranked group of five school is Cincinnati. They just edged out Memphis by a spot in the poll. This leaves a spot for one more power five school. With Auburn likely going to the Citrus Bowl due to an SEC tie in, the last spot on this list will likely go to Baylor.
No. 12 Baylor vs. No. 20 Cincinnati
Of all these current projections, this Cotton Bowl game has the highest chance of happening.