One of the bigger news stories coming out of the sport over the last couple of days -- aside from the College Football Playoff expanding to 12 teams beginning in 2024-25 -- involves this year's lineup of bowl games. Specifically, it involves the Rose Bowl potentially selecting No. 8 Penn State instead of No. 5 Ohio State to fill its Big Ten vacancy should No. 2 Michigan win the Big Ten Championship Game as it is favored to do.
The Buckeyes have appeared in two of the last four Rose Bowl games, including last season's epic 48-45 victory over Utah. There is also a chance that Utah will be the Pac-12 representative even if it loses to USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game, creating a potential repeat matchup. (My current projection lists the Rose Bowl choosing Washington over what would be a four-loss Utah team.)
Ohio State notably did not sell its allotment of tickets to last year's Rose Bowl, so the game's organizers are concerned that the Buckeyes fan base, which normally travels as well as any, may not be interested in coming back to Pasadena, California, for a third straight year.
Meanwhile, Penn State's last appearance at the Rose Bowl came in 2016, and the Nittany Lions' fan base also travels extremely well.
The reasoning is sound, and one wonders why the Rose Bowl would float this information to the public if it was not reasonably sure it wanted to go in this direction. As such, I am adjusting my projection and placing Penn State in the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten representative.
That results in further changes as Ohio State moves to the Orange Bowl as the highest-ranked team from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. Tennessee therefore shifts to the Cotton Bowl against as the highest-rated team remaining.
Another result of this change: Because the Big Ten is in the Orange Bowl, the ACC gets the Big Ten's spot in the ReliaQuest Bowl. There has been some significant shuffling of the bowl spots for teams in both of those leagues as a result.
College Football Playoff
New Year's Six bowl games
There are some new projections elsewhere, too. Most notably, Syracuse has been swapped out of the Fenway Bowl due to a conflict with the school's academic calendar. Pittsburgh has been moved out of the Pinstripe Bowl to Fenway, while Syracuse is projected to the Pinstripe as these teams trade baseball stadiums.
Also, the only bowl projection unchanged from the beginning of the season has finally been altered. The New Mexico Bowl had an Air Force-North Texas matchup from the start, but I have now moved Air Force to the Armed Forces Bowl for the 20th anniversary of that game. North Texas has also been moved to the Myrtle Beach Bowl, so the projected New Mexico Bowl matchup is now BYU vs. Fresno State.
More changes may come as more information becomes known.