BOWL GAMES: The Latest on the College Football Playoff and bowl selection Sunday
Published 6:59 pm Sunday, December 3, 2017
Courtesy of Associated Press
The Latest on the College Football Playoff and bowl selection Sunday (all times Eastern):
Add Florida Atlantic to the list of teams playing bowl games on their home fields.
Florida Atlantic will cap its breakthrough season under first-year coach Lane Kiffin by facing Akron in the Dec. 19 Boca Raton Bowl.
Other teams playing bowl games in their home stadiums this year include Miami in the Orange Bowl, Navy in the Military Bowl and Memphis in the Liberty Bowl.
Florida State was considered a contender for a College Football Playoff spot during the preseason. Instead, it will be in one of the lower-tier bowls.
The Seminoles will face Southern Mississippi in the Dec. 27 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. It is their first appearance in the game.
Florida State (6-6), which lost starting quarterback Deondre Francois in the opener against Alabama, needed to win its last three games in order to extend its bowl game appearance streak to 36.
Odell Haggins will serve as the Seminoles interim coach after Jimbo Fisher resigned last Friday to accept the job at Texas A&M.
The Seminoles and Golden Eagles haven’t played since 1996 when Florida State won 54-14.
It will mark the second time in a week that the schools will meet in a sporting event. The men’s basketball teams have a game in Tallahassee, Florida, on Dec. 21.
The longest bowl drought in the nation will end when New Mexico State plays Utah State in the Arizona Bowl in Tucson on Dec. 29.
New Mexico State hasn’t appeared in a postseason game since beating Utah State in the 1960 Sun Bowl.
NMSU (6-6) became eligible with its 22-17 win over South Alabama on Saturday — a day athletic director Mario Moccia called a “tremendous day for long-suffering Aggies fans.”
NMSU also was eligible for a bowl in 2002, when it went 7-5, but it did not receive an invitation.
Memphis will be playing a bowl game at its home stadium.
The 19th-ranked Tigers (No. 20 College Football Playoff) will face Iowa State in the Dec. 30 Liberty Bowl at Memphis, Tennessee. This marks the first time in the Liberty Bowl’s 59-year history that the hometown team will play in the game.
Memphis (10-2) had a shot at a New Year’s Six bowl before losing the American Athletic Conference championship game to Central Florida in double overtime.
The Liberty Bowl normally pits a Southeastern Conference team against a Big 12 school. With two SEC teams (Alabama and Georgia) making the playoff and a third (Auburn) in the Peach Bowl, the league didn’t have enough remaining bowl-eligible teams to fill all its remaining tie-ins.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer says he “sank in my chair at home because I really thought we were in” after learning the Buckeyes had not made the College Football Playoff.
He says the team is going to instead look ahead to a Cotton Bowl matchup against Southern California.
The playoff selection committee picked Alabama over Ohio State for the playoff. Both the Pac-12 and Big Ten have no teams among the four semifinalists.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said only that he recognized the difficult decision facing the committee.
No. 9 Penn State will face No. 12 Washington in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Nittany Lions and Huskies both finished 10-2 and will meet at University of Phoenix Stadium on Dec. 30. Penn State was No. 9 in the final College Football Playoff rankings and Washington was No. 11.
Penn State and Washington were both playoff contenders before midseason losses knocked them out of the race.
The Nittany Lions reached No. 2 in the AP Top 25, but lost to Ohio State 39-38 on Oct. 28 and to Michigan State the following week.
Washington was No. 5 in the AP poll when it surprisingly lost 13-7 to Arizona State on Oct. 14. The Huskies also lost to Stanford before closing out the season with two victories.
Penn State has never lost in six previous trips to the Fiesta Bowl, though its last appearance was in 1997. Washington is making its Fiesta Bowl debut.
Ohio State is returning to the stadium where the Buckeyes won the first College Football Playoff championship under the current system.
The Big Ten-champion Buckeyes will play in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 against Pac-12 champion Southern California. That is a matchup of 11-2 teams that have played each other in the Rose Bowl seven times.
In 2014, the first season of the four-team CFP, Ohio State made it to the national championship game and beat Oregon 42-20 at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys that has hosted the Cotton Bowl since the 2009 season.
Ohio State and USC have both played in the Cotton Bowl only once before, both when the game was played in historic Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.
USC beat Texas Tech 55-14 at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day 1995. Ohio State won 28-12 over Texas A&M on New Year’s Day 1987.
Call this the Distraction Bowl.
The Peach Bowl includes Central Florida coach Scott Frost, who’s leaving for Nebraska, and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, who’s facing questions about whether he will remain with the Tigers.
The undefeated, 10th-ranked Knights (12-0, No. 12 CFP) will play the Southeastern Conference title game runner up in No. 7 Auburn (10-3, No. 7 CFP) on Jan. 1.
Frost was hired as Nebraska’s coach shortly after UCF won a 62-55, double overtime shootout with Memphis to capture the American Athletic Conference title. Frost has said he will coach his team in the bowl game.
Malzahn’s team fell to playoff-bound Georgia in the SEC title game Saturday amid questions that he’s the target for Arkansas’ open job.
It should lead to plenty of questions for both teams not related to the upcoming bowl game.
Miami is staying home for bowl season, and will meet Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30.
The Hurricanes (10-2) are going to the Orange Bowl for the 10th time, and it’s played in Hard Rock Stadium — Miami’s home field. Miami is on a two-game losing streak, but gets the berth after being the highest-ranked Atlantic Coast Conference team that is not part of the College Football Playoff.
Wisconsin (12-1) is coming off its first loss of the season, falling 27-21 to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game. That loss probably kept the Badgers out of the CFP field.
The Hurricanes and Badgers haven’t played in eight years, and that was at the Champs Sports Bowl. Both have strong defenses, with Wisconsin’s ranking No. 1 nationally in yards allowed in No. 2 in points allowed.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer concedes the one-sided nature of the Buckeyes’ 55-24 loss at Iowa outweighed his team’s quality wins in the eyes of the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Alabama beat Ohio State for the final spot in the playoff. Says Meyer: “The bottom line is we had a tough road loss against, in my opinion, a very good team – but a tough road loss.”
Ohio State won the Big Ten and had three victories over teams (Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State) ranked higher in the playoff standings than No. 17 LSU, the top team to lose to Alabama.
Meyer says each season is now like March Madness from day one.
The Big 12 will have quite a bowl bonanza, led by Oklahoma going to the Rose Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff.
The smallest of the 10 Division I conferences will have the highest percentage of bowl teams.
Eight of the Big 12’s 10 teams — or 80 percent — will be going to a bowl game. Only Kansas and Baylor, both 1-11, failed to qualify.
The league that can get the closest to that is the Pac-12, with nine of its 12 teams — or 75 percent — reaching the six wins needed for bowl eligibility.
While the ACC and Conference USA could have as many as 10 of the 14 teams from each of those leagues in bowls, that is only 71 percent.
There were only six Big 12 teams that went to bowls last year, but this will be the third time in the seven seasons since going to a 10-team league that at least eight will play in postseason games. In 2012, a record nine Big 12 teams made it.
The playoff selection committee has released its entire top 25, with the rest of the major bowl pairings still to come.
The highest ranked Pac-12 team was Southern California at eight. It’s the first time a Power Five conference did not have a team in the top seven.
Washington did move up to No. 11 and that will be good enough to get the Pac-12 a second team, along with champion USC, into New Year’s Six bowl game. The Huskies are likely heading to the Cotton Bowl.
Alabama edged Ohio State to grab the fourth spot in the playoff. Alabama beat only two teams in the committee’s final top 25: LSU at 17 and Mississippi State at 23. Alabama is also the first team to reach the playoff after losing its last game.
Oklahoma and Georgia are headed out west to play their College Football Playoff semifinal in the 104th Rose Bowl.
The Sooners (12-1) were the second seed in the four-team field announced by the selection committee on Sunday, while the Bulldogs (12-1) were third.
The Rose Bowl will be played without a team from either of its traditional Pac-12 or Big Ten conferences for the first time since Jan. 3, 2002.
While the college football world argued about the committee’s decision on the fourth team in the playoff, nobody doubts the credentials of the two stellar programs getting together for the first time in the Granddaddy of Them All.
Georgia earned a spot with its first SEC title since 2005 under second-year coach Kirby Smart, capped by a 28-7 victory over Auburn in the conference championship game on Saturday.
Oklahoma won the Big 12 title with a 41-17 victory over TCU on Saturday, punctuating an incredible season under first-year head coach Lincoln Riley. The Sooners will be led by fleet-footed quarterback Baker Mayfield, the likely Heisman Trophy winner.
Alabama edged out Ohio State for the final spot in the College Football Playoff field. The Crimson Tide’s reward is a playoff rematch against defending national champion Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1.
Clemson’s inclusion as the top seed in the bracket was expected since the Tigers (12-1) were No. 1 in the previous CFP rankings and then routed Miami 38-3 in the ACC title game on Saturday.
The inclusion of Alabama (11-1) was much more contentious. Fourth-seeded Alabama didn’t even win the Southeastern Conference West after losing to Auburn in the final game of the regular season, but was impressive until that loss.
Clemson beat Alabama 35-31 in the national championship game last season. The Tigers have made it back to the CFP with a dominant defense and the emergence of junior quarterback Kelly Bryant.
Alabama is in.
The Crimson Tide got the nod over Ohio State and will play Clemson in the College Football Playoff on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma and Georgia will meet in the Rose Bowl on the same day.
Tide or Buckeyes was the question facing the selection committee, the toughest call in the four-year history of the playoff.
The Tide had been more consistent and lost just once The Buckeyes lost twice, including an embarrassing 31-point beating to unranked Iowa, but have the more impressive set of victories. Ohio State won the Big Ten while Alabama did not even win its Southeastern Conference division.
The committee rolled with the Tide, and for the first time the playoff will include two teams from the same conference. Alabama joins SEC champion Georgia and an all-SEC title game is possible.
The Associated Press voters prefer Alabama over Ohio State.
In the final Top 25 of the regular season, the Crimson Tide was No. 4 and the Buckeyes were No. 5. The poll was released about an hour before the College Football Playoff pairings were being revealed. Which team gets the final spot in the final four caused a debate between the Crimson Tide and Buckeyes. In the AP media poll, Alabama received 1,307 points to Ohio State’s 1,300.
Clemson finished the regular season No. 1, followed by Oklahoma and Georgia.
Wisconsin was No. 6, followed by Auburn, Southern California, Penn State and UCF. The 10th-ranked Knights are the last unbeaten team in the Football Bowl Subdivision and matched their best ranking ever. UCF finished the 2013 season 10th.
College football has a different type of selection Sunday, a smaller bracket, and dozens of other games that make people argue about how much they matter.
The bowl lineup falls into place with the selection of the teams participating in the College Football Playoff. The playoff selection committee unveils its final four and then sets the matchups for the rest of the major New Year’s bowls.
Three of the top four picks are no-brainers: Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia. The last spot is likely to come down to Alabama or Ohio State.
After all the New Year’s Six bowls are set, including the semifinals, the rest of the bowl lineups come together throughout the day. There are 39 games in all, and 81 teams are eligible this year.