John Raoux/Associated Press
While the College Football Playoff has never been in jeopardy, the rest of bowl season has had an unclear outlook.
Put simply, there were too many unanswered questions. Would the games be prioritized? Would any schools not travel to a fan-less game several states away? Will enough teams finish with the requisite six wins to become bowl-eligible?
Now that every FBS conference has announced it would return, though, the first two questions are addressed. Plus, the NCAA is likely to waive bowl-eligibility requirements in 2020.
Yes, the calendar itself must be worked out because the regular season runs into mid-December—which is when bowls typically begin. But after several months of uncertainty about the postseason, it’s refreshing to have a packed bowl slate on the way.
Note: The Bahamas, Hawaii and RedBox Bowls will not be played.
College Football Playoff
Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1): Clemson vs. Georgia
Rose Bowl (Jan. 1): Alabama vs. Ohio State
After three straight comfortable wins, Clemson is readying for a showdown with seventh-ranked Miami in Week 6. If the Tigers back up their billing as strong favorites, it’s tough to see anyone other than Notre Dame even keeping up with Clemson—which is seeking a sixth straight College Football Playoff trip.
Alabama has looked absolutely dominant in its first two games, most recently a 52-24 triumph over Texas A&M. Georgia struggled early against Arkansas but throttled Auburn last week, setting up a huge clash between Bama and UGA on Oct. 17.
Provided the result is not a blowout, though, the losing team shouldn’t be removed from CFP consideration. Oklahoma and Texas already have losses in the Big 12, leaving Oklahoma State as the league’s last undefeated team. Plus, the Pac-12 has both a small schedule and no clear favorite.
The ACC and SEC are positioned nicely for a second CFP team.
Rounding out the group is Ohio State, which has long been considered the front-runner in the Big Ten.
New Year’s Six Bowls
Cotton Bowl (Dec. 30): Oklahoma State vs. BYU
Peach Bowl (Jan. 1): Miami vs. Cincinnati
Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 2): Oregon vs. Penn State
Orange Bowl (Jan. 2): Notre Dame vs. Florida
Brody Schmidt/Associated Press
Consider this a vote of confidence in Oklahoma State winning the Big 12, though not as an undefeated team. BYU, on the other hand, should make a serious charge at a perfect record while ending the regular season highly ranked. The problem is the Cougars have a weak schedule, likely slowing any CFP hype.
BYU, however, is not included in the Group of Five’s automatic berth to a New Year’s Six bowl. That means the AAC champion—which in this projection is Cincinnati—would earn an NY6 bid.
Since the Rose Bowl is a CFP semifinal, the Fiesta Bowl should land a Pac-12 school for geographical reasons. Notre Dame is a logical choice along with Penn State, but a second-place finish in the ACC would send the Irish to the Orange Bowl.
Florida would be the highest-ranked SEC team behind Alabama and Georgia, giving the Gators a second straight Orange Bowl trip. They wouldn’t face in-state rival Miami, however, unless the ‘Canes leap Notre Dame in the ACC standings.
Cure Bowl (Dec. 19): Georgia State vs. Ohio
Camellia Bowl (Dec. 19): Coastal Carolina vs. Toledo
Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29): Texas vs. USC
Sun Bowl (Dec. 31): Washington vs. Louisville
Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1): Wisconsin vs. Auburn
Outback Bowl (Jan. 1): Michigan vs. LSU
Arizona Bowl (TBD): Western Michigan vs. Nevada
Armed Forces Bowl (TBD): UCF vs. West Virginia
Birmingham Bowl (TBD): Arkansas vs. Houston
Boca Raton Bowl (TBD): South Florida vs. Louisiana Tech
Cactus Bowl (TBD): TCU vs. Indiana
Cheez-It Bowl (TBD): North Carolina vs. Kansas State
Duke’s Mayo Bowl (TBD): Virginia vs. Minnesota
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (TBD): San Diego State vs. Miami (Ohio)
Fenway Bowl (TBD): Boston College vs. Temple
First Responder Bowl (TBD): SMU vs. Baylor
Frisco Bowl (TBD): Tulsa vs. Air Force
Gator Bowl (TBD): Purdue vs. Texas A&M
Gasparilla Bowl (TBD): Florida State vs. Ole Miss
Holiday Bowl (TBD): Arizona State vs. Pitt
Independence Bowl (TBD): Stanford vs. Army
LA Bowl (TBD): Utah vs. Boise State
Las Vegas Bowl (TBD): Cal vs. Mississippi State
LendingTree Bowl (TBD): Appalachian State vs. Buffalo
Liberty Bowl (TBD): Oklahoma vs. Tennessee
Military Bowl (TBD): Syracuse vs. Memphis
Music City Bowl (TBD): Virginia Tech vs. Iowa
Myrtle Beach Bowl (TBD): Tulane vs. Ball State
New Mexico Bowl (TBD): UTSA vs. Wyoming
New Orleans Bowl (TBD): Louisiana vs. Marshall
Pinstripe Bowl (TBD): NC State vs. Northwestern
Quick Lane Bowl (TBD): Michigan State vs. Central Michigan
Texas Bowl (TBD): Iowa State vs. Kentucky
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.