Now that the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl matchups are set in stone for this season’s College Football Playoff, let’s take a look at the other games in the New Years Six lineup. This year’s field includes the champions from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and the American Athletic Conference. It also includes two additional teams from the Big Ten spread out among the bowl lineup after the conference was left out of the playoff for the first time.
COTTON BOWL: No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 8 USC (December 29, 8:30 p.m. ET)
With the Rose Bowl serving as a host site for a College Football Playoff semifinal (Clemson vs. Alabama), the Cotton Bowl will serve as a Texas Rose Bowl this year with a matchup between the Pac-12 champions (USC) and Big Ten champions (Ohio State). From a historical perspective, this is a fantastic matchup, and one worthy of a prime bowl matchup. This game likely would have been played in the Fiesta Bowl but it would have been a third straight trip to the game for Ohio State, which reportedly led to the Fiesta Bowl in need of some fresh faces. Speaking of which…
FIESTA BOWL: No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 11 Washington (December 30, 4 p.m. ET)
The Nittany Lions are heading back to the Fiesta Bowl for a game against Washington. Washington’s defense against Penn State’s offense should be a great matchup, even with Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead moving to Mississippi State to be the head coach. This should also help settle some scores from last year’s playoff debate. Washington was selected with the No. 4 seed in last year’s College Football Playoff, sending No. 5 Penn State to the Rose Bowl.
ORANGE BOWL: No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami (December 30, 8 p.m. ET)
The Orange Bowl was one of the easiest matchups in the New Years Six to figure out. The game is contracted to have one team from the ACC and the highest-ranked team available from the pool of Big Ten and SEC teams without a conference championship. With Clemson in the playoff, the Orange Bowl was locked into getting the conference runner-up, Miami. And because the Orange Bowl could not get Ohio State, the Big Ten champion, for a rematch of a past BCS national championship game, that left the Orange Bowl with Wisconsin as the No. 6 team in the ranking.
PEACH BOWL: No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 12 UCF (January 1, 12:30 p.m. ET)
As the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion, UCF was guaranteed a spot in the New Years Six. They will face Auburn, who will return to Atlanta for a second-straight game after losing the SEC Championship Game. Nebraska head coach Scott Frost has said he will coach UCF in the bowl game, which could add some good recruiting sales pitches to his arsenal if he can advertise beating an SEC team as he moves to the Big Ten.