While there’s a lot of speculation about what might happen regarding this season’s playoff should Alabama lose to Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, there’s another situation that’s beginning to throw a wrench into any bowl projections.
In addition to being tasked with selecting the four playoff teams that will meet in the semifinals, which this year will be played at the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl on Dec. 29, the College Football Playoff selection committee also makes the pairings for the other major bowls.
The Rose Bowl is under contract for a Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup, and the Sugar Bowl for SEC vs. Big 12. However the Peach Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl don’t have those kinds of limitations.
They’re likely to be filled by the teams ranked between No. 6 and 12 that are remaining.
The looming issues are Kentucky and the Fiesta Bowl.
Right now the only western team in the top 20 is Washington State, which seems likely to play in the Rose Bowl.
Meanwhile, Alabama, Georgia and LSU are all in excellent position to end up at a major bowl, with at least one in the playoff.
The Wildcats are at No. 11 and have three winnable games remaining, against Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and Louisville. What they don’t want to do is give the committee an excuse to reward a team from another conference, say the winner of Boston College vs. Syracuse, instead of placing a fourth SEC team.
Kentucky could force the committee’s hand by winning out convincingly and finishing as a top-10 team, but who would pay to see the Wildcats play, say UCF, in Arizona? In that scenario the guess here is the committee would send LSU west and pair Kentucky against West Virginia in the Peach Bowl.
Note: The top-seeded team in the CFP rankings is automatically placed in the semifinal location closest to its campus. Should it be Alabama the Crimson Tide will play at A&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
College Football Playoff
Cotton Bowl: Alabama vs. Michigan
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Notre Dame
Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1 (ESPN): Georgia vs. Oklahoma
Peach Bowl, Dec. 29 (EPSN): Kentucky vs. West Virginia
Rose Bowl, Jan. 1 (ESPN): Ohio State vs. Washington State
Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 1 (ESPN): LSU vs. UCF
Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1 (ABC) vs. Big Ten: Florida vs. Penn State
Texas Bowl, Dec. 27 (ESPN) vs. Big 12: Texas A&M vs. Texas Tech
Belk Bowl, Dec. 29 (ABC) vs. ACC: South Carolina vs. Duke
Music City Bowl, Dec. 28 (ESPN), ACC/Big Ten: Missouri vs. Boston College
Gator Bowl, Dec. 31 (ESPN), ACC/Big Ten: Auburn vs. Wisconsin
Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31 (ESPN), Big 12: Vanderbilt vs. Oklahoma State
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1 (ESPN2), Big 10: ESPN2: Mississippi State vs. Michigan State