College Football Playoff and Bowl Game Primer: Where Will Penn State Play?
With today’s Earth-shattering news of Penn State’s sanction reduction, including immediate postseason eligibility, an issue many fans haven’t kept up on is now at the forefront of many minds: What’s the deal with the new postseason?
Under the new system, six bowls (Orange, Cotton, Fiesta, Rose, Sugar, and Peach) have now been selected to rotate each year to host the semifinals, with the winners of each semifinal playing in the freshly-minted College Football Championship Game.
The semifinals will pit the No. 1 against No. 4, and No. 2 against No. 3. The four bowls that are not semifinals will still be played, and will feature traditional conference tie-ins. The Rose Bowl will feature the Big Ten No. 1 and the Pac-12 No. 1, the Sugar Bowl will feature the SEC No.1 and the Big 12 No. 1, and the Orange Bowl will feature the ACC No. 1 and either the SEC #2, Big Ten #2, or Notre Dame. The Cotton Bowl, Peach Bowl, and Fiesta Bowl will be selected at-large or from the mid-major schools, known as the Group of Five, who are guaranteed at least one spot in the bowls.
The semifinal games will rotate every year, with Rose/Sugar, Orange/Cotton, and Fiesta/Peach paired together in that order, and will be played on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For the Big Ten, when the Rose Bowl is hosting a semifinal (as it is this year) and the Conference Champion is not in the playoffs, they will play in either the Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, or Peach Bowl.
A committee will select all of these teams, instead of the BCS computers. This committee will include Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez, former Nebraska head coach and AD Tom Osborne, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, among others.
The playoff system is probably not something Penn State needs to worry about this year, but it will not eliminate the bowl games of old, however. Bowl tie-ins for the power conferences will be in effect as well, and Penn State fans can rejoice in knowing postseason football is a true possibility. Here are the bowls Big Ten teams are automatically tied to in some capacity.
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas (December 26th, 1:00 PM)
Quick Lane Bowl
Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan (December 26th, 4:30 PM)
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York (December 27th, 4:30 PM)
National University Holiday Bowl
Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California (December 27th, 8:00PM)
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee (December 30th, 3:00PM)
San Francisco Bowl
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA (December 30th, 10:00PM)
Capital One Bowl
Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, FL (January 1st, 1:00PM)
Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL (January 1st, 1:00PM)
EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL (January 2nd, 3:20PM)
Additionally, the Miami Beach Bowl and San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl contain at-large bids if BYU and Navy, respectively, are not bowl-eligible. If Penn State can keep up its current pace, one of these bowls will be inundated with Blue and White. Penn State fans have been waiting a long time for a return to postseason glory, and may well get it this year.