Now that you’ve had some time to digest the College Football Playoff semifinal matchups — Alabama vs. Oklahoma (Orange Bowl) and Clemson vs. Notre Dame (Cotton Bowl) — the rest of the New Year’s Six bowl games were unveiled by the CFP selection committee.
Here they are:
Peach Bowl: No. 10 Florida (9-3) vs. No. 7 Michigan (10-2)
Location: Atlanta | Date: Dec. 29 | Time: Noon | TV: ESPN
Florida, in its first season under Dan Mullen, is heading to the Peach Bowl for the first time since 2004. Before the season, Georgia was seen as head and shoulders above the rest of the SEC East, but, thanks to impressive wins over Mississippi State and LSU, the Gators rose into the top 10 ahead of a late October matchup with UGA. The Gators ended up losing to UGA in Athens, and followed it up with a loss to Mizzou, before ending the season with three more wins.
Michigan looked like it was on a fast track to the playoff, until it ran into rival Ohio State. The Wolverines lost their season opener at Notre Dame before reeling off 10 straight. All that stood between UM and a Big Ten East title (with a likely Big Ten crown and CFP berth to follow) was Ohio State, but the Wolverines floundered in Columbus. It has been a tough pill to for Jim Harbaugh’s program, but the Wolverines can still reach 11 wins in its first-ever Peach Bowl. That win total would be a high-mark of Harbaugh’s tenure.
Fiesta Bowl: No. 11 LSU (9-3) vs. No. 8 UCF (12-0)
Location: Glendale, Arizona | Date: Jan. 1 | Time: 1 p.m. | TV: ESPN
LSU, with Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow at quarterback, stormed out of the gates with wins over Miami and Auburn, both of whom were ranked in the top 10 at the time. There was a slip-up at Florida, but the Tigers were 7-1 and ranked No. 3 in the country when they welcomed top-ranked Alabama to Baton Rouge on Nov. 3. Tiger Stadium was electric, but LSU did not have enough to stop the Tide in a 29-0 loss. In the last week of the regular season, LSU played in the game of the year, losing 74-72 to Texas A&M in seven overtimes. A win in its first trip to the Fiesta Bowl would get LSU back to double-digit wins after a four-season drought.
UCF is undefeated yet again. Last year, the Knights cruised through AAC play and upset Auburn in the Peach Bowl to finish a perfect 13-0. Now with Josh Heupel running the show in place of Scott Frost, UCF can reach 13-0 once again, and do so on a big stage against another SEC team. This year, however, the Knights will be without AAC Offensive Player of the Year McKenzie Milton, who suffered a serious knee injury. In his place, Darriel Mack Jr. started Saturday’s AAC title game against Memphis. He shook off three early fumbles to finish with 348 passing yards, 59 rushing yards and six total touchdowns in a 56-41 win, UCF’s 25th straight. The LSU defense will present a much tougher test.
Rose Bowl: No. 9 Washington (10-3) vs. No. 6 Ohio State (12-1)
Location: Pasadena, California | Date: Jan. 1 | Time: 8 p.m. | TV: ESPN
Washington also beat its rival to clinch a spot in the Pac-12 title game, spoiling Washington State’s dream season to clinch the North division. From there, the Huskies beat Utah in a low-scoring conference title game on Friday night. At 10-3, Washington didn’t quite live up to the lofty preseason expectations, especially with October losses to Oregon and Cal. However, UW rebounded from the Cal loss with four straight wins to close out the season. Now, UW is headed to its first Rose Bowl since 2001.
Ohio State bounced back from a disastrous October loss at Purdue to win the Big Ten title. There were some bumps along the way, mainly a 52-51 overtime win over Maryland, but the Buckeyes trounced rival Michigan to claim the Big Ten East crown before Saturday’s victory over Northwestern in the conference championship game on Saturday. Dwayne Haskins, a surefire Heisman finalist, has led the way with a record-setting season at quarterback.
Sugar Bowl: No. 15 Texas (9-4) vs. No. 5 Georgia (11-2)
Location: New Orleans | Date: Jan. 1 | Time: 8 p.m. | TV: ESPN
Oklahoma’s inclusion in the CFP means the Big 12’s runner-up, Texas, gets this spot in the Sugar Bowl. In Tom Herman’s second season, the Longhorns have improved immensely, including levying OU it’s only loss of the season back in the Red River Rivalry. UT shook off a season-opening loss to Maryland by starting 6-1, but lost back-to-back heartbreakers to Oklahoma State and West Virginia by four points combined. From there, UT rallied with three straight wins down the stretch to reach the Big 12 title game for a rematch with Oklahoma. But the Sooners proved to be too much, and won the rematch, 39-27. Still, reaching the New Year’s Six is a big step for Texas in its trajectory under Herman.
Georgia was on the precipice of shaking up the College Football Playoff field, but it blew a 14-point lead in the SEC title game against No. 1 Alabama in the SEC title game on Saturday. It was a brutal loss, and now the Bulldogs will head back to the Sugar Bowl for the first time since 2007. Ultimately, Georgia’s loss to Alabama and the 20-point road defeat to LSU back in October were too much for the Bulldogs to surpass Big 12 champion Oklahoma to reach the four-team field.
Full College Football Playoff rankings
3. Notre Dame
6. Ohio State
12. Penn State
13. Washington State
16. West Virginia
18. Mississippi State
19. Texas A&M
21. Fresno State
24. Iowa State
25. Boise State
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