Who is coming to San Antonio?
All the bowls will announce their teams on Selection Sunday, December 8, following the mid-afternoon release of final CFP poll.
For the Valero Alamo Bowl, there are currently six Big 12 teams in our mix. Baylor, Texas and four teams who all play each other this weekend: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State and Iowa State at Kansas State.
The Pac-12 picture is clearer. One of these three teams is coming to San Antonio:
The Utes are one of the most well-rounded teams in the country. They rank ninth nationally in yards per play on offense and fourth in that same category on defense. The other two teams that can boast being Top 10 on both sides of the ball are #1 Ohio State and #3 Clemson.
Their offense is led by senior quarterback Tyler Huntley and senior running back Zack Moss. Hundley is #5 in the nation in passing efficiency and Moss is #5 in yards from scrimmage per game.
The Ducks surprising 31-28 loss to Arizona State dropped them out of the playoff discussion, but they have clinched the Pac-12 North division title and a win in the Pac-12 Championship game will secure them a spot in the Rose Bowl.
Senior quarterback Justin Herbert, a projected Top 10 overall selection in next Spring’s NFL Draft, has thrown for 2,966 yards and 30 touchdowns this year.
USC’s finished their regular season with a 52-35 win over rival UCLA. Since the Trojans handed Utah its only loss of the season, USC owns the tiebreaker and would be the Pac-12 South representative for the Rose Bowl if Utah loses this weekend to Colorado.
Against the Bruins, USC true freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis set a school record for passing yards with 515. He also threw four touchdowns and set a USC record as four of his receivers finished with over 100 yards receiving on the day.
While history tells us there will be another unexpected result or two in the final weeks of the season, here is an overview of how the six CFP games and Valero Alamo Bowl match-ups are set based on current rankings.
- Semifinal games: The Peach and Fiesta bowls will host the Top 4 teams on Saturday, December 28 in a doubleheader. The #1 team will play in the bowl closest to their campus against #4 at either 3 p.m. or 7 p.m. CST. Then, #2 will play #3 in the other bowl. The winners will play in New Orleans in the CFP National Championship on Monday, January 13 at 7 p.m. CST.
- Rose Bowl: They will match up the Pac-12 Champion against the Big Ten Champion on Wednesday, January 1 at 4 p.m. CST. If either or both conference champions finish in the Top 4, the Rose Bowl will receive another team from that conference. That means if #6 Utah wins the Pac-12 Championship and finishes the season ranked in the Top 4, then the Rose Bowl will replace that vacated slot with another Pac-12 team.
- Sugar Bowl: They will match up the SEC Champion against the Big 12 Champion on Wednesday, January 1 at 7:45 p.m. CST. If either or both champions finish in the Top 4, the Sugar Bowl then will receive the championship game runner-up. That means if #7 Oklahoma or #9 Baylor is ranked in the Top 4, the Big 12 Championship runner-up will go to the Sugar Bowl.
- Orange Bowl: They will match-up the winner of the ACC Championship against the highest ranked team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame on Monday, December 30 at 7 p.m. CST. If #3 Clemson is the Conference Champion and stays in the Top 4 in the final CFP poll, then the Orange Bowl will select another ACC team as a replacement.
- Cotton Bowl: They will match up the highest ranked Group of Five Champion (currently Memphis at #18) against the highest ranked at-large pick not slotted for the other five CFP bowl game on Saturday, December 28 at 11 a.m. CST. This year it is likely to be the team that is ranked in the Top 10 or 11 of the final CFP poll.
- Valero Alamo Bowl: We receive the #1 pick of the Pac-12 and Big 12 conferences after the above six CFP bowls are set. The game kicks off in the Alamodome on Tuesday, December 31 at 6:30 p.m. CST in an exclusive TV window. The Championship game match-ups are #6 Utah or #22 USC vs. #14 Oregon in the Pac-12 and #7 Oklahoma vs. #9 Baylor in the Big 12. All four of these Championship game participants could be placed in CFP bowls. However, most media projections have one of the Championship games runners-up available to us.
Thus, the Pac-12 team will be either Utah, Oregon or USC against the Big 12 Championship game runner-up if they are available. Since the two top Big 12 teams could both be CFP games, our current pool of teams also includes #21 Oklahoma State, #23 Iowa State, Kansas State and Texas.