Bowl projections: Florida Gators will be headed to 2019 New Year’s Six game

By Adam Silverstein
December 8, 2019
Bowl projections: Florida Gators will be headed to 2019 New Year’s Six game

Image Credit: GatorsFB / Twitter

What a difference one week can make. After looking like they could be held out of the New Year’s Six bowl games altogether despite putting together a tremendous record against one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, the Florida Gators saw their chances improve drastically on Tuesday night when the penultimate College Football Playoff Rankings were released. Their position only improved after conference championship week concluded Saturday night.

Florida entered the weekend No. 9 in the rankings ahead of Penn State, putting it in prime position for one of the three potential New Year’s Six bids it could acquire in the Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl. (More on that below.)

The Gators were the third-highest rated SEC team behind No. 2 LSU and No. 4 Georgia, but there is a chance Florida could leap UGA after it got demolished 37-10 in the SEC Championship Game. More likely is that the Bulldogs will remain ahead of the Gators.

Now that we know the winners and losers from the conference title games, let’s take a look at what would have to happen for Florida to get into the aforementioned New Year’s Six bowls. Before we start, here are a list of the games along with the designations that make an appearance by the Gators possible.

  • Sugar Bowl (highest-ranked SEC not in CFP vs. highest-ranked Big 12 not in CFP)
  • Orange Bowl (highest-ranked ACC not in CFP vs. team from SEC, Big Ten or Notre Dame)
  • Cotton Bowl (two at-large, one from Group of Five, leaving one spot)

Sugar Bowl: With LSU beating Georgia as expected, Florida would only earn a bid to the Sugar Bowl if it is ranked higher than UGA in the final CFP Rankings on Sunday afternoon. The Dawgs would have to fall five or so spots behind a Gators team it beat head-to-head. While Florida’s losses (No. 2 LSU, No. 4 Georgia) are better than Georgia’s (No. 2 LSU, unranked South Carolina), the CFP Selection Committee does not normally penalize conference title game losers harshly.

Orange Bowl: This is the most likely bowl for the Gators. Ohio State, LSU and Clemson all finished undefeated and are in the CFP along with one-loss Oklahoma. Georgia will likely go to the Sugar Bowl (see above) and Wisconsin will likely go to the Rose Bowl (as the highest-ranked Big Ten team not in the playoff). That leaves Florida as the top-ranked SEC or Big Ten team remaining, giving it the Orange Bowl.

Even if Wisconsin does not receive the same benefit of doubt as Georgia for losing its conference championship game — putting Penn State in the Rose Bowl — that would mean the Badgers would still be ranked behind the Gators. Why?

With neither UF nor PSU playing on Saturday, there should be no reason for the committee to flip their order again. However, could it theoretically happen? Yes. The reasoning for such a change would be extremely curious.

Cotton Bowl: This is where Florida would wind up if a Big Ten team bounces it out of the Orange Bowl in the aforementioned scenario. Because the Gators are not battling with the ACC, Big 12 or Pac-12 for the Orange Bowl spot, those results did not matter for that game. However, if Penn State somehow winds up ahead of Florida, pushing UF into an at-large selection, it would suddenly be in competition with teams from every other conference.

No New Year’s Six? At this point, given the Gators’ ranking ahead of two SEC teams (one it beat, another which has a worse strength of schedule and strength of wins) and its primary New Year’s Six competition in the Nittany Lions, this is not a scenario worth thinking much about. The CFP Rankings would have to be shaken up so substantially that Florida was passed by Penn State or Wisconsin for the Orange Bowl while Utah — without a single ranked win this season — was left ahead of it in the final rankings. Oregon (Rose Bowl) and Baylor (Sugar Bowl) are already set.

Bowl projections: So where does this leave Florida? Which bowl will the Gators play in this season? More likely than not, Florida will be heading to the Orange Bowl. The Sugar Bowl is a possibility, but it’s not likely. South Florida fans, rejoice. Check out my full projections below.

Peach Bowl: (1) LSU vs. (4) Oklahoma [CFP Semifinal]
Fiesta Bowl: (2) Ohio State vs. (3) Clemson [CFP Semifinal]

Sugar Bowl: Georgia (SEC) vs. Baylor (Big 12)
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin (B1G) vs. Oregon (Pac-12)
Orange Bowl: Virginia (ACC) vs. Florida (SEC/B1G/ND)
Cotton Bowl: Memphis (G5 at-large) vs. Penn State (at-large)


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