Now that you’ve had time to digest the two College Football Playoff semifinal matchups, the CFP selection committee unveiled the rest of the New Year’s Six bowl games.
In addition to No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl and No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl, here are the four other CFP-affiliated bowls on the schedule.
Peach Bowl: No. 10 Michigan State (10-2) vs. No. 12 Pittsburgh (11-2)
Date: Dec. 30 | Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN
Michigan State went from two wins in its first season under head coach Mel Tucker to 10 wins in its second. The Spartans were one of the top surprise stories of the season as they moved all the way up to No. 3 in the CFP rankings at one point. The Spartans missed out on the playoff and Big Ten East title with a loss to Ohio State, but it has still been a tremendous season in East Lansing. The addition of Wake Forest transfer running back Kenneth Walker III has been a huge boost for MSU’s offense. Walker enters the bowl game with 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Pitt, meanwhile, will head to Atlanta as the ACC champion. With quarterback Kenny Pickett leading the way, the Panthers knocked off Wake Forest 45-21 on Saturday night to capture the program’s first ACC title since it moved over from the old Big East. Pickett has had an unbelievable senior season, boasting 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns. He has broken several of Dan Marino’s program records and could be a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Fiesta Bowl: No. 5 Notre Dame (11-1) vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State (11-2)
Date: Jan. 1 | Time: 1 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The first game of the Marcus Freeman era will come in a big-time bowl game. Notre Dame, who was the final team left out of the College Football Playoff, saw longtime head coach Brian Kelly leave for LSU last week. Not long after, the school promoted Freeman, the Irish’s defensive coordinator, to the top job. The Irish had some uneven performances early in the year, but enter bowl play on a seven-game winning streak. After Kelly’s exit, this group seems hungry to get back on the field.
Oklahoma State was on the precipice of the CFP, but came up mere inches short in a Big 12 title game loss to Baylor on Saturday. OSU was 11-1 before that loss, including a dramatic win over rival Oklahoma in Bedlam. To get to this point, the Cowboys have relied on a strong defense and a consistent running game behind Utah State transfer Jaylen Warren. OSU ranks No. 3 in the country in total defense and No. 7 in scoring defense.
Rose Bowl: No. 11 Utah (10-3) vs. No. 6 Ohio State (10-2)
Date: Jan. 1 | Time: 5 p.m. | TV: ESPN
Utah started the season 1-2 before winning nine of its next 10 games to capture its first Pac-12 championship. And with that comes the program’s first trip to the Rose Bowl. The Utes crushed Oregon twice in a three-week span, including a 38-7 rout in Salt Lake City and then a 38-10 beatdown in the Pac-12 title game. Along the way, QB Cam Rising and RB Tavion Thomas have emerged as all-conference caliber players for the Utes. That defense has also been playing extremely well.
Ohio State’s College Football Playoff hopes were dashed when its eight-game winning streak over rival Michigan ended. That gave the Big Ten East (and ultimately the Big Ten) title to the Wolverines. And with Michigan moving onto the CFP, the Buckeyes slid into the Big Ten’s spot in the Rose Bowl. OSU’s offense has been tremendous this season with first-year starting QB C.J. Stroud throwing to the best receiver trio in the country — Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Those three have combined for 215 catches, 3,253 yards and 31 TDs.
Sugar Bowl: No. 8 Ole Miss (10-2) vs. No. 7 Baylor (11-2)
Date: Jan. 1 | Time: 8:45 p.m. | TV: ESPN
In Lane Kiffin’s second season in Oxford, Ole Miss reached a milestone by getting to 10 regular season wins for the first time in program history. The Rebels finished as the second-place team in the SEC West and captured wins over Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M and rival Mississippi State along the way. The Ole Miss offense has been led by quarterback Matt Corral, who has 3,339 yards and 20 TDs passing along with 597 yards and 11 TDs rushing.
Baylor went 2-7 in its first season under Dave Aranda. A year later, the Bears are Big 12 champions and headed back to the Sugar Bowl. Baylor enters the bowl having won seven of its past eight, including an upset over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 title game on Saturday. Baylor also has wins over Iowa State, BYU, Texas and Oklahoma this season. A big reason for the turnaround was the hire of offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes. BU had one of the Big 12’s worst offenses in 2020. In 2021, Baylor has one of the Big 12’s best offenses.
Final College Football Playoff rankings
San Diego State