For the 10th consecutive year, the Texas A&M Aggies are headed to a postseason bowl game. That we’ve known for several weeks now, but following the Aggies’ 74-72 thriller over the LSU Tigers and the updated College Football Playoff Rankings, possible bowl destinations are beginning to come into focus. We’ll find out for sure on Sunday, but let’s take a look at where the football might be spending New Year’s.
Before diving in, take a few moments to educate yourself in the SEC bowl selection process using this handy infographic.
So, where will the Aggies go bowling? Unfortunately there is no hard and fast formula. While rankings, records and conference standings can all play a part, ultimately these are business decisions made by people looking to maximize TV ratings, ticket sales and hotel bookings. Add in the need to set up enticing matchups in a city that fans haven’t been to in recent years, and it can be a tough nut to crack, but we’ll try to at least narrow down our options.
College Football Playoff/New Year’s Six Bowls
No, there is no scenario in which A&M ends up in the playoff (Orange Bowl/Cotton Bowl), or even another New Year’s Six Bowl (Sugar, Fiesta, Peach, Rose). That said, the teams selected for these slots will likely have a big impact on where the Aggies end up. It’s a foregone conclusion that the winner of the SEC Championship game between Alabama and Georgia will make the Playoff. And if Georgia wins, there’s a good chance both of them finish in the top four. But for the sake of this article, let’s assume Alabama wins. That likely puts Georgia heading to New Orleans as the SEC representative in the Sugar Bowl.
This is where it gets interesting. Currently there are two other SEC schools in the playoff committee’s top 10: Florida at 9 and LSU at 10. If these rankings remain unchanged, there is a very strong chance that that they would each receive an invitation to a New Year’s Six (NY6) bowl. If that does occur, it helps bump the Aggies up in the bowl hierarchy.
Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Noon, Jan. 1 (ABC)
Once all of the NY6 matchups have been confirmed, the Citrus Bowl has first pick of the remaining bowl-eligible SEC teams. If Florida is available, you have to assume that’s the pick. If it’s LSU, things get interesting. The Tigers have gone to the Citrus Bowl each of the past two seasons, and bowl officials may worry about fan fatigue leading to decreased attendance. But if both Florida and LSU are in the NY6, suddenly the choice is between Texas A&M and Kentucky. The Wildcats are the higher-ranked team, but the Aggies have a head-to-head victory and a larger fanbase that has an established history of traveling well for bowl games.
Making it to this game would be a major accomplishment for head coach Jimbo Fisher in his first year. A name bowl, in Florida, facing a Big Ten opponent, playing on New Year’s Day. There’s a lot to be excited about if this is the destination.
Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL)
11 a.m., Jan. 1 (ESPN2)
If they aren’t selected for the Citrus Bowl, A&M would almost certainly be selected to one of the “Pool of Six” bowls. These are six bowls with SEC affiliations in which the conference, in consultation with member schools and the bowls, selects which school with go to the respective bowls. Most would put the Outback Bowl at the top of this list, another Florida bowl game in New Year’s Day against a Big Ten opponent.
Plus if you start your Twitter campaign now, perhaps you could follow in Ryan Nanni’s footsteps and become the next Bloomin’ Onion mascot.
Taxslayer Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL)
6:30 p.m., Dec. 31 (ESPN)
If you can’t play on New Year’s Day, a prime time ESPN game on New Year’s Eve is a nice consolation. If selected, the Aggies would face an opponent either from the Big Ten or the ACC. This is where I predicted A&M would land in our preseason predictions, so from a purely selfish perspective, it wouldn’t be the worst thing. Then again I also said we’d lose to Arkansas.
Really, anything of the other bowls on this list would be a disappointment considering A&M finished second in the SEC West (their highest finish ever) after beating a top 10 team to end the season. Heading to the Music City (Nashville), Liberty (Memphis), Belk (Charlotte) or Texas (Houston) bowls would just feel a bit blah from a fan perspective, especially considering the Aggies have played in each of these bowls in the past four years, three of which were against Big 12 opponents.
What bowl are you hoping for?
This poll is closed
Other (explain in the comments)