The SEC’s new bowl lineup, starting in 2020, will add the Las Vegas and Gasparilla bowls, while dropping the Independence Bowl, sources told Stadium.
In the new six-year bowl cycle from 2020-25, the NCAA allows the SEC 11 bowl tie-ins – excluding the College Football Playoff and New Year’s 6 at-large bowls – but the league opted to only have 10 bowl alignments, sources said.
The SEC is expected to officially announce its 2020-25 bowl lineup this week. Other leagues are expected to announce their bowl tie-ins in the coming weeks.
This season marks the final year of the current six-year bowl cycle. The changes of the new bowl cycle include the following:
- SEC and Big Ten teams will alternate playing in the Las Vegas Bowl and the Belk Bowl. In 2021, ’23 and ’25, an SEC team will play in the Belk Bowl vs. an ACC team, while the Big Ten will play in the Las Vegas Bowl vs. a Pac-12 team. In 2020, ’22 and ’24, the SEC will play in the Las Vegas Bowl vs. the Pac-12, while the Big Ten will play in the Belk Bowl vs. the ACC.
- The Pac-12 adds the Los Angeles Bowl at Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park against the Mountain West and is expected to play in the Independence Bowl against the ACC.
- An ACC team will play a team from the American Athletic Conference in the new Boston bowl game which will be played at Fenway Park. The ACC also is replacing the Big Ten in the Holiday Bowl, where it will play the Pac-12. By adding those games, the ACC will no longer play in Detroit’s Quick Lane Bowl.
- The Big Ten is dropping the Holiday Bowl to play in the Las Vegas Bowl and the Belk Bowl, and also is dropping the Armed Forces and First Responder bowls to play in the Cheez-It Bowl against the Big 12.
Even though the Independence Bowl had an SEC tie-in for the past five seasons, only two league teams – South Carolina (2014) and Vanderbilt (2016) – played in the game because the bowl had the 10th pick from the SEC after teams were placed in the College Football Playoff and New Year’s 6 bowls. Between 1995 and 2009, the SEC played in the Independence Bowl in 13 of 15 seasons.
With the SEC opting to send its 10th selection to the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. is expected to replace the SEC with the Pac-12. The ACC will still be aligned with the Independence Bowl.
Here are the bowl tie-ins for the new cycle, according to sources, for the Power 5 leagues. The Group of 5 bowl tie-ins are still being determined, but expect a lot of affiliations with groups of bowls since ESPN Events owns 16 of the 43 FBS bowls and can use that flexibility to create various matchups each year, sources said.
Independents BYU and Army also will be placed into bowls in the new cycle by ESPN, sources said.
SEC (10 bowls)
Sugar vs. Big 12
Citrus vs. Big Ten
Las Vegas vs. Pac-12/Belk vs. ACC
Outback vs. Big Ten
Texas vs. Big 12
Gator vs. ACC
Music City vs. Big Ten
Liberty vs. Big 12
Birmingham vs. American
Gasparilla vs. American
Changes: The new Las Vegas and Belk bowls are expected to be in the pool of bowls for selections three through eight (along with Texas, Outback, Gator, Music City and Liberty). The Citrus Bowl will still receive the second pick (after the College Football Playoff selections and Sugar Bowl). The SEC vs. Pac-12 matchup in the Las Vegas Bowl will be the first non-playoff matchup between the conferences since the 1989 Freedom Bowl.
ACC (11 bowls)
Orange vs. SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame
Camping World vs. Big 12
Belk vs. SEC/Big Ten
Holiday vs. Pac-12
Fenway Park vs. American
Pinstripe vs. Big Ten
Sun vs. Pac-12
Gator vs. SEC
Military vs. American
Independence vs. Pac-12
Gasparilla vs. SEC
Changes: The 15-member ACC – including Notre Dame for bowl purposes – will have guaranteed bowl bids for 73 percent of its membership, most among all conferences. The ACC will no longer play in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, instead participating in the new Fenway Park Bowl against the American and the ACC replaced the Big Ten in the Holiday Bowl. Also, the ACC will play in the Outback Bowl in place of the Big Ten any year in which the Big Ten has a team in the Orange Bowl. This arrangement was previously with the Citrus Bowl.
Big 10 (9 bowls)
Rose vs. Pac-12
Citrus vs. SEC
Outback vs. SEC
Las Vegas vs. Pac-12/Belk vs. ACC
Music City vs. SEC
Pinstripe vs. ACC
Redbox vs. Pac-12
Quick Lane vs. Mid-American
Cheez-It vs. Big 12
Changes: The biggest difference for the Big Ten in the new cycle is adding Las Vegas/Belk in place of the Holiday Bowl. Also, the Big Ten replaces the Pac-12 in the Cheez-It Bowl. The Big Ten will have the highest percentage of bowl games against other Power 5 opponents – eight of nine – including three bowls each vs. the SEC and Pac-12. One change among the Big Ten bowl opponents is the Quick Lane Bowl, where the Big Ten is expected to play a team from the American instead of the ACC.
Rose vs. Big Ten
Alamo vs. Big 12
Las Vegas vs. SEC/Big Ten
Los Angeles vs. Mountain West
Holiday vs. ACC
Redbox vs. Big Ten
Sun vs. ACC
Independence vs. ACC
Changes: The NCAA granted the Pac-12 an additional bowl bid in the new cycle and the Pac-12 is expected to add the Los Angeles Bowl vs. the Mountain West and the Independence Bowl against the ACC. The Pac-12 also will play against either the SEC or the Big Ten in the new Las Vegas Bowl. By adding two bowls, the Pac-12 had to drop one – it’s expected to be the Cheez-It Bowl. The Pac-12 will now have Power 5 opponents in seven of its eight bowls, including three from the ACC and at least two from the Big Ten.
Big 12 (7 bowls)
Sugar vs. SEC
Alamo vs. Pac-12
Camping World vs. ACC
Texas vs. SEC
Liberty vs. SEC
Cheez-It vs. Big Ten
Armed Forces vs. Group of 5/First Responder vs. Group of 5
Changes: None. The Big 12 will maintain its same bowl affiliations in the new bowl cycle. The Big 12 will play three SEC opponents and one each from the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12. The biggest changes will be facing the Big Ten instead of the Pac-12 in the Cheez-It Bowl and facing a Group of 5 opponent in the Armed Forces/First Responder bowls.
Group of 5 Outlook
The American will have seven tie-ins and looks like it could be involved in possibly four bowls against Power 5 opponents: the new Fenway Park bowl (ACC), Military (ACC), Birmingham (SEC), and Gasparilla (SEC). It’s doubtful the SEC will have enough teams every year to send to Gasparilla, but still the American will easily have the most opportunities among the Group of 5 leagues to play Power 5 opponents in the postseason.
The Mountain West, with six tie-ins, loses its long-time tie-in to the Las Vegas Bowl, but instead will play the Pac-12 in the new Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park. The Mountain West also will remain in the Famous Idaho Potato, New Mexico, Arizona and Hawaii bowls – plus another ESPN Events bowl.
Conference USA will have seven tie-ins in 2020-25: New Orleans with the remaining six bowls among the 16 bowls owned by ESPN Events, including the newly-created Myrtle Beach Bowl. The Mid-American (six bowl tie-ins) and Sun Belt (five bowl tie-ins) also will be predominately aligned with ESPN bowls.
The 16 FBS bowls ESPN will own by 2020 are the following: Fenway Park, Cure, Myrtle Beach, Frisco, Hawaii, Texas, Gasparilla, Las Vegas, Armed Forces, New Mexico, First Responder, Bahamas, Boca Raton, Camellia, Birmingham and Famous Idaho Potato.