5 college football teams that can make their first New Year’s Six bowl this season

Mack Brown, Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Mack Brown, Clemson Tigers. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /
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New Year's Six, college football teams
Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M Aggies. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Five teams that can make their first New Year’s Six bowl this season.

Since the creation of the College Football Playoff in 2014, there has been a clear delineation of bowl games that matter from the ones that really don’t. Of course, making the playoff is the end-all, be-all in this major college sport. However, not even the best and most well-run programs have a realistic shot of it every year. College football is incredibly top-heavy, and that’s fine.

But what does get lost in all this is a program that does all the little things right in a particular year, but doesn’t get the national spotlight it deserves. These programs may never be playoff-caliber but can get some respect a level below. Of course, we’re talking about the nearly as important New Year’s Six.

These six high-profile bowls (Cotton, Fiesta, Peach, Orange, Rose, Sugar) rotate on a three-year schedule of being the two national semifinal games in the playoff. For the 2020 NCAA season, the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl will have an elevated level of importance. While most of these games have conference affiliations attached, playing in any of them is a huge accomplishment.

In the six years of the College Football Playoff era, 34 programs have played in at least one New Year’s Six bowl game. Only Conference USA and the Sun Belt haven’t sent a team to the New Year’s Six yet. With one Group of 5 team guaranteed a spot, there’s plenty of big bowl game love to go around. Could one of these five teams play in their first New Year’s Six game this season?

These five college football teams may get their first New Year’s Six bids this year.

player. SEC. 5. 873. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. West. Texas A&M Aggies

Is this the year for Texas A&M?

The SEC dominates the New Year’s Six. In the last six years, the Power 5 conference has sent seven member institutions to a New Year’s Six bowl and 17 times has an SEC team played in a New Year’s Six bowl. Including College Football Playoff National Championship games, the SEC has played in 23 of these high-profile contests in the new postseason format.

Though it’s still probably at least a year or so away, the Texas A&M Aggies have the best shot of playing in one of these high-profile bowls for the first time out of their Power 5 conference. Texas A&M will be in year three under head coach Jimbo Fisher and won’t have to play one of the roughest regular-season schedules in college football like the Aggies did a season ago.

They don’t face the Georgia Bulldogs in SEC play, nor do they draw the Clemson Tigers as a non-conference Power 5 opponent. Texas A&M should go 4-0 in non-conference play with its most notable date being at home vs. the Pac-12’s rebuilding Colorado Buffaloes. In their SEC East rotation, the Aggies get to host the worst team in the division in the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Of course, Texas A&M will need to go 6-2 in SEC play to have a shot at New Year’s Six game in the vein of the Cotton Bowl or Peach Bowl. Though they host the rival LSU Tigers Thanksgiving Weekend, the Aggies have to play the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny. If their only losses are to the Alabama schools, they’ll get an invitation.