Big changes reportedly coming with next college football bowl cycle

A new bowl game played at Fenway Park in Boston will be part of the next college football bowl cycle, beginning in 2020.
A new bowl game played at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, will be part of the next college football bowl cycle, beginning in 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The next college football bowl cycle is going to have some major changes.

Stadium’s Brett McMurphy revealed the new Power Five conference bowl tie-ins on Monday. Among the significant changes, which go into effect beginning with the 2020 season, are the SEC’s new affiliations with the Las Vegas Bowl and Gasparilla Bowl.

Elsewhere, the Big Ten will reportedly add the Las Vegas Bowl and Belk Bowl to its itinerary while the Pac-12 sends one lucky team across the country to Shreveport to play in the Independence Bowl, replacing an SEC team.

Big picture changes for next bowl cycle

Before getting into the new matchups, there are a few things to know about the new bowl cycle, which spans six seasons (2020-2025). First of all, there will be more games.

A new AAC-ACC matchup at Fenway Park in Boston was reported in April, upping the apparent total to 43 bowl games. The Fenway Park game is the third addition to this cycle, joining new bowl games in Los Angeles (Pac-12 vs. Mountain West) and Myrtle Beach (C-USA, MAC, Sun Belt).

Additionally, the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee changed the way conferences could align contractually with bowl games. The change, which was made in June 2018, takes into account a conference’s past bowl eligibility to determine the number of commitments a conference can have.

More specifically, the NCAA used a four-year average of the number of bowl-eligible teams from a conference.

Here are the number of bowl tie-ins allowed for each conference:

American: 7

ACC: 11

Big 12: 7

Big Ten: 9

Conference USA: 7

MAC: 6

Mountain West: 6

Pac-12: 8

SEC: 11

Sun Belt: 5


The ACC, which includes Notre Dame for contractual purposes, will have 11 guaranteed bowl slots, the most of the power conferences. According to Stadium, the conference swapped its spot in the Quick Lane Bowl for the Fenway game and will replace the Big Ten in the Holiday Bowl.

Big Ten

The Big Ten has nine bowl slots and most notably will add the Las Vegas Bowl, Belk Bowl and Cheez-It Bowl. While facing the Big 12 in the Cheez-It Bowl for all six seasons of the cycle, the Big Ten and SEC will each get three appearances in both the Las Vegas and Belk bowls.

The Big Ten will participate in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2021, 2023 and 2025 and the Belk Bowl in 2020, 2022 and 2024.

The conference formally announced the changes on Tuesday.

Big 12

Per Stadium, the Big 12 is the only Power Five conference without any changes. The league will keep the same seven bowl affiliations it has held in the current bowl cycle: Sugar, Alamo, Camping World, Texas, Liberty, Cheez-It and Armed Forces.


The Pac-12 jumped up from seven to eight bowl slots for the next cycle. One of its new placements will reportedly be in the new game being played in Los Angeles at the new stadium that is being built for the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. Per Stadium, that game will feature a Mountain West opponent.

Also of note is the Independence Bowl against the ACC. The Independence Bowl, played in Shreveport, Louisiana, has long featured a member from the SEC, first from 1995-2009 and then again in the most recent cycle.

In the next college football bowl cycle, the Independence Bowl will reportedly feature an ACC vs. Pac-12 matchup.
In the next bowl cycle, the Independence Bowl will reportedly feature an ACC vs. Pac-12 matchup. (Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).


The SEC, which elected to use 10 of its possible 11 bowl slots, dropped the Independence Bowl in favor of the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, the conference announced on Tuesday.

As previously mentioned, the SEC will also play a Pac-12 opponent in the Las Vegas Bowl three times — 2020, 2022 and 2024 — during the next bowl cycle. In 2021, 2023 and 2025, the SEC will participate in the Belk Bowl.

Group of Five

Per Stadium, the tie-ins for the Group of Five conferences are “still being determined.”

The American, which continues to promote itself as a “Power Six” conference, will have multiple chances to face Power Five opponents, including the Fenway Park bowl (ACC), the Military Bowl (ACC), the Birmingham Bowl (SEC) and the Gasparilla Bowl (SEC).

As has been reported in the last year, the Mountain West is losing its matchup with the Pac-12 in the Las Vegas Bowl, but makes up for it in the Los Angeles Bowl.

The MAC announced on Tuesday that it will return as a primary partner of the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit along with the Big Ten.

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