It’s that time of year again.
College football fans dream of their favorite team earning a postseason berth into one of the nation’s most prestigious bowl games.
Dubbed the “New Year’s Six,” the Rose, Cotton, Fiesta, Peach, Orange and Sugar Bowls feature the country’s best teams during New Year’s weekend.
The Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl were named this year’s semifinals for the top four teams in the nation. The winners will advance to the National Championship game.
At the end of week seven, the Associated Press ranked Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and Clemson as the top four teams.The juggernaut Alabama will hold its spot as long as it secures the Southeastern Conference title.
Clemson’s loss to Louisville knocked the Tigers down to No. 4, where they will stay for the rest of the season. Clemson and Alabama will face off in the Peach Bowl. The Tide will prevail and advance to the championship.
While Michigan has made waves, the Wolverines are too young and inexperienced to compete with the Ohio State Buckeyes, led by gun-slinging quarterback J.T. Barrett.
Washington, ranked fifth, can make a run into the top four if the Huskies win the Pac-12. Washington can only afford one loss. If the Wolverines suffer two losses, they could lose their place in the top four and open a space for the Huskies.
Washington will play No. 3 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Jake Browning’s 23 touchdowns this season prove he is capable of leading the Huskies past the Buckeyes and into the championship.
Though the Huskies are talented, Alabama’s strong defense and running game will be enough to seal another national title.
If Washington does reach the top four, the Rose Bowl will open to the second place Pac-12 team.
Washington State has played impressively in the last three weeks, making a case for a Rose Bowl bid. The Cougars defeated Oregon 51-33 and Stanford 42-12 back-to-back.
No. 19 Utah is the only team capable of ruining Washington State’s late season run. Washington State or Utah will face the winner of the Big 10.
Michigan will likely play in the Rose Bowl after dropping out of the top four.
The Orange Bowl will host Louisville and Nebraska. The Cardinals lost a tough game to Clemson but did not tumble far in rankings. The Cornhuskers have played their best in years and climbed two spots in the rankings after a win over Indiana.
The Sugar Bowl traditionally features the winners of the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference. With Alabama in the playoffs, second place Texas A&M has a chance to make an appearance. The Aggies ranked sixth at the end of week seven and are one of the few undefeated teams left.
The Aggies’ opponent is expected to be Baylor (6-0). The Bears will need to win over Oklahoma for the top spot in the Big 12 and a berth in the Sugar Bowl.
Houston and Boise State will have a chance to reach the New Year’s Six. The highest ranked team outside a Power Five conference automatically holds a spot in one of those bowls. Houston lost earlier this season to Navy by six points but is still ranked 11th, which is three spots ahead of the undefeated Broncos.
If Houston wins out in dominant fashion and the Broncos drop their late season matchups, the Cougars will likely participate in the Cotton Bowl.
Brandon Hill can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill