Now that you’ve had some time to digest the two College Football Playoff semifinal matchups — No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Notre Dame (Rose Bowl) and No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Ohio State (Sugar Bowl) — the rest of the New Year’s Six bowl games were unveiled by the CFP selection committee.
Here they are:
Cotton Bowl: No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Florida
Location: Arlington, Texas | Date: Dec. 30 | Time: 8 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN
It was a big surprise to see Oklahoma drop its first two Big 12 games to Kansas State and Iowa State early in the season. But the Sooners were then able to bounce back in a big way by winning their next seven games. Along the way, they got some of their top players back from suspension and freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler settled into his role. That all culminated with a 27-21 win over Iowa State in the Big 12 title game, OU’s sixth consecutive conference championship. Oklahoma played in the CFP the last three seasons, but will settle for a New Year’s Six bowl in 2020.
Florida played Alabama down to the wire in the SEC title game, but fell 52-46. It was a heck of a showing from the Gators, but they were not a realistic contender to reach the CFP due to their unexpected loss to an undermanned LSU team the week before. That loss gave Florida two losses, with the other coming against Texas A&M back on Oct. 10. Following that loss, Florida won six straight games and showcased a high-powered offense with Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney. Pitts, a surefire first-round pick, won’t play in this bowl game after declaring for the draft.
Peach Bowl: No. 8 Cincinnati vs. No. 9 Georgia
Location: Atlanta | Date: Jan. 1 | Time: 12:30 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN
Cincinnati emerged as the highest-ranked Group of Five champion following its last-second victory over Tulsa in the AAC championship game on Saturday. The win kept Cincinnati’s undefeated season alive, but UC wasn’t given much love from the CFP selection committee. Instead, the Bearcats will head to a big-time bowl game for the first time since the two-year stretch where they played in the Orange and Sugar Bowls in 2008 and 2009. Luke Fickell should have his team plenty motivated, too, and anxious to prove it should have been ranked higher.
Georgia’s streak of three consecutive SEC East titles was snapped in 2020, but the Bulldogs still turned in a solid season. UGA’s only two losses came to Alabama and Florida, though neither of those games were very close. Offensively, Georgia looked much better over the second half of the season after JT Daniels was inserted into the lineup at quarterback. Daniels, a transfer from USC, gave UGA a much-needed downfield dimension to its offense. If he can keep that going in the bowl game, UGA fans will be feeling reinvigorated entering the offseason.
Fiesta Bowl: No. 25 Oregon vs. No. 10 Iowa State
Location: Glendale, Arizona | Date: Jan. 2 | Time: 4 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN
Because of COVID-19 issues in Washington’s program, Oregon was able to represent the Pac-12 North against USC in the conference championship game. The Ducks made it count, pulling out a 31-24 victory. Oregon started the season 3-0, but lost its final two regular-season games on the road against Oregon State and Cal. The Ducks looked much better against USC, especially on defense, and now have back-to-back Pac-12 championships. Last season, they won the Rose Bowl. This time, they’ve landed in another New Year’s Six bowl game.
Iowa State had one of its best seasons ever in 2020, but could not top it off with a Big 12 title. ISU won the Big 12’s regular-season title but had the chance to win a conference championship for the first time in over 100 years. ISU nearly pulled off a big comeback on Saturday against Oklahoma. ISU trailed 24-7 at halftime but had a chance to win the game in the final minute, only to come up short in a 27-21 loss. Nonetheless, playing in a bowl game of this caliber is a big deal for Matt Campbell’s program.
Orange Bowl: No. 5 Texas A&M vs. No. 13 North Carolina
Location: Miami Gardens, Florida | Date: Jan. 2 | Time: 8 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN
Texas A&M opened the season with an unimpressive win over Vanderbilt and then got blown out 52-24 by Alabama. The Aggies haven’t lost since. They reeled off seven consecutive SEC victories and sat at 8-1 entering selection Sunday, but ended up finishing at No. 5 just behind Notre Dame. The Aggies feel like they had a legitimate argument to make the CFP. Instead, Jimbo Fisher’s group is headed to a New Year’s Six bowl game for the first time since the switch from the BCS. The last time A&M played on a similar stage was back in 2012 against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
With Clemson and Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff, North Carolina gets to go to a big bowl game as the next highest-ranked team in the ACC. The Tar Heels shook off bad losses to Florida State and Virginia by winning four of their final four games. The most important win came on the road against Miami. Miami was ahead of UNC in the CFP rankings, but UNC trounced the Hurricanes 62-26, putting up an absurd 554 rushing yards in the process. Now, the Tar Heels will get to put their high-powered offense to the test against Texas A&M’s defense.
Final College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings
3. Ohio State
4. Notre Dame
5. Texas A&M
10. Iowa State
12. Coastal Carolina
13. North Carolina
21. Oklahoma State
22. San Jose State
23. NC State
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