College football starts in a little more than two weeks. And for 135 days, the jostling to become a national champion will be ongoing. Obviously, only four teams will compete in the College Football Playoff but a dozen teams will be selected to the most lucrative bowls, otherwise known as the New Year’s Six.
We won’t know the identities of all 12 teams until sometime in the afternoon of Dec. 4, the day after most conferences hold their championship games. Only six teams are required to be part of the NY6 field: Each of the Power Five Conference’s champions as well as the highest-ranked Group of Five team. The CFP committee has never put more than one team from outside the Power Five into the New Year’s Six. I wrote earlier this week about who I think will take the outsider’s mantle for the 2022 season. The other half has no true allegiances to go by.
In projecting the elite 12, the non-CFP quartet of NY6 bowl games has a few tie-ins to follow, like the Rose Bowl being a Big Ten vs. Pac-12 showdown. This year the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl forego traditional conference affiliations to host national semifinals. Who will be those dozen teams to get the biggest spotlight in college football? Here’s my prediction.