February 28, 2024

Florida State, the first unbeaten Power 5 conference winner to ever miss out on the College Football Playoff, will settle for a matchup with two-time defending champion Georgia in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 30.

Coach Mike Norvell said the No. 5 Seminoles, who finished 13-0 and won the ACC championship, will be ready for the matchup in Miami Gardens (4 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App) despite being snubbed by the CFP selection committee Sunday.

“I’m proud of the work we have put in and the players I have the privilege to coach,” Norvell said in a statement. “We have one more opportunity to define this 2023 team in the Orange Bowl, and I believe in how our team will respond.”

The Seminoles’ 19 consecutive wins is the second-longest active streak in FBS.

No. 6 Georgia had won 29 straight games prior to Saturday’s loss to Alabama in the SEC title game. As a result, the Bulldogs become the first No. 1 team in the penultimate CFP rankings to fall out of the top four after losing during Championship Week.

The Bulldogs have won six consecutive bowl games.

The other drama played out Sunday was determining who would be chosen as the highest-ranked Group of 5 team, thus getting an automatic bid into the New Year’s Six.

That honor went to the undefeated Liberty Flames (13-0), the first Conference USA champion to clinch a New Year’s Six bid in the College Football Playoff era. The Flames finished at No. 23 in the final CFP rankings — one spot ahead of the American Athletic Conference champion SMU Mustangs (11-2) — despite playing one of the nation’s weakest schedules.

Liberty, which will be making only its fifth bowl appearance ever, will take on No. 8 Oregon in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona (Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App).

The Ducks (11-2), led by Heisman Trophy candidate Bo Nix, will be making their seventh straight bowl appearance.

The remaining two New Year’s Six games will feature clashes between Big Ten and SEC teams.

No. 9 Missouri, which is seeking its first bowl win in three appearances under coach Eli Drinkwitz, will take on No. 7 Ohio State at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, Texas (Dec. 29, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App).

The Buckeyes (11-1), who are 2-12 in bowl games against SEC opponents all-time, will be making their 11th New Year’s Six appearance in a row. Ohio State has a 10-1-1 series record against Missouri, with the last meeting in 1998.

The Tigers (10-2) won at least 10 games — their first winning record in five seasons — for the first time since winning the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day 2015. It will be Mizzou’s first New Year’s Six bowl in nine seasons and its first appearance in the Cotton Bowl since 2014.

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta (Dec. 30, noon ET, ESPN/ESPN App) features a matchup between No. 11 Ole Miss (10-2) and No. 10 Penn State (10-2).

It will be the Rebels’ second New Year’s Six bowl appearance in three seasons under coach Lane Kiffin, while the Nittany Lions will be playing in their ninth bowl under coach James Franklin.

The two teams have never played each other.

The other two games in the New Year’s Six were set earlier Sunday when the CFP semifinal matchups were announced.

No. 1 Michigan will take on No. 4 Alabama in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Prudential in Pasadena, California (Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App), and No. 2 Washington plays No. 3 Texas in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans (Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App).

The Wolverines will be playing in their 21st Rose Bowl, more than any school except USC, but Michigan hasn’t been to the archetypal bowl game since 2007.

“It’s going to take all those days, all those hours, all those minutes,” Harbaugh told ESPN. “We played Alabama before. Haven’t beaten them. We know it’s going to take our best. We’re going to have to play really good, but before that, we’re going to have to plan. We’re going to have to practice and get in a position to execute against really good football teams.”

Alabama, led by a top-notch defense and by quarterback Jalen Milroe, has been to the Rose Bowl more times than any school not in the Big Ten or the Pac-12.

“He’s got it,” Harbaugh said of Milroe. “He’s got that ‘it’ factor. Surrounded by a lot of really superior athletes that are really well-coached and know what they’re doing. That’s a vital, critical combination.”

The Sugar Bowl features a rematch of 2022 Alamo Bowl quarterbacks Quinn Ewers of Texas and Heisman Trophy candidate Michael Penix Jr. of Washington. Another storyline will be Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian facing his old school; he coached the Huskies from 2009 to 2013, going 34-29 with three bowl appearances.

“Washington still holds a special place to me,” Sarkisian said. “I got my first head coaching opportunity there and had five just tremendous years in trying to rebuild that program.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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