Fiesta Bowl could become playoff game more often if expansion happens
A spot in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl can sort of be seen as a nice consolation prize, at least this year. The New Years event will feature two top-tier programs at Notre Dame’s No.5 (11-1) and Oklahoma State’s No.9 (11-2) in a force at 11 a.m. at State Farm Stadium.
The match organizers were, without a doubt, delighted with this match. Both teams have enthusiastic fans. and Notre Dame is one of the flagship brands of college football.
The two teams went to the end of the argument for a place in the college football qualifiers, which currently has just four teams. These teams were so deeply involved in the playoffs until the selection was announced that it’s easy to imagine this Fiesta Bowl as a forerunner of what could happen if the field of the playoffs were broadened.
You have the Fighting Irish, whose only loss of the season came from Cincinnati (13-0), who made the playoffs as a No.4 seed and will face No.1 Alabama (12-1) in the Cotton Bowl. Notre Dame has won its last seven games after the loss, edging those enemies by a cumulative 269-102.
Notre Dame started the season coached by Brian Kelly but is entering the Fiesta Bowl run by Marcus Freeman because Kelly left for LSU a month ago. Notre Dame entered the Cincinnati game ninth overall. He fell to No.14 after that loss and then slowly moved up the standings, with a strong performance on the pitch and helped by the losses of others.
Oklahoma State’s only loss in the regular season came at Iowa State 24-21. The Cowboys went on to lose the Big 12 Championship game 21-16 to Baylor, a team he beat 24-14 in the regular season.
He won all five of the loss games by a total of 202-46.
How close was Oklahoma State to making those playoff four? The Cowboys entered their conference championship game at No.5. The four teams in front of them all won, so they probably wouldn’t have skipped any of the ones they won.
As one of the so-called New Year’s bowling games, the Fiesta Bowl has always been a high-profile event. But if the College Football Playoff does eventually expand and things seem to move in that direction, the Fiesta Bowl could become an even more prestigious event.
The current four-team format was adopted in 2015 and Alabama was the dominant team, with seven appearances in eight years. The Crimson Tide is aiming for a fourth championship and has five league games.
The Fiesta Bowl has been a CFP semi-final game twice, in 2016 and 2019, both games featuring Clemson and Ohio State. Currently, he is set to host his next semi-final on December 21, 2022, with another in the works for 2025.
If the CFP expansion grows to eight or 12 teams, the Fiesta Bowl will likely host one of the additional playoff games. But this is not a guarantee, because the competition to host CFP matches is intense, especially for the championship. Starting with this season’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, three consecutive CFP Finals will be played in non-traditional venues (i.e. regular bowl venues). Game 2022-2023 is scheduled for SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, and Game 2023-24 has been assigned to NRG Stadium in Houston.
The biggest hurdle is that there was no consensus on the best model, not just when it came to the number of teams, but also whether the winners of the Power 5 conferences would qualify automatically. How many wild card berths would that leave?
The question was a big topic of conversation at the annual Intercollegiate Athletics Forum at Aria Casino on the Vegas Strip earlier this month. It was an opportunity for the Power 5 commissioners to take a public stand in front of hundreds of college administrators.
New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff has not taken a firm and quick stand, saying he’s ready to potentially support a 12 or eight-team model, with or without automatic qualifying.
To extend the playoffs before the current contract ends in 2025, unanimous consent from the executives is needed – the group of 10 FBS presidents and the president of Notre Dame. It sounds like a lie, that would be a difficult question.
While unanimity is required to extend the playoffs before the contract ends, there is no need to create a playoff format in a new contract that would begin in 2026.
The Fiesta Bowl has always been a very busy event, a great location, near perfect weather and great hospitality, making it a great vacation destination. No doubt Notre Dame and the State of Oklahoma will represent it well. But the excitement generated by an actual playoff game is unmatched.
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