For the first time in four years Tennessee will find out its bowl opponent today, and for the first time ever the College Football Playoff will select its four participants. ESPN has the Selection Show from 12:30-3:00 PM ET (leading nicely into the Lady Vols at Lipscomb on ESPN3); we can assume the playoff participants will be announced first with plenty of discussion, and at some point they'll get around to the bowl matchups.
Your two major questions for the day:
- Where will Tennessee land, and who will they see when they get there? The Liberty Bowl continues to be the conversational favorite; Oklahoma State earned bowl eligibility yesterday and joins West Virginia and maybe-but-probably-not Texas as potential opponents in Memphis. The Music City and Belk Bowls should feature a smattering of ACC options from the ones you want (Duke, Louisville, Notre Dame) to the ones that won't really move the needle for Vol fans (Boston College, Maryland, NC State). The Irish were drawing lots of conversational interest in Nashville, so that could be fun. Ole Miss should make their way into the New Year's Six after Arizona and Wisconsin took beatings, which should make life much easier for the rest of the SEC in the bowl pecking order. We're happy to be here either way, but you would love a bowl opponent who presents an opportunity win. Plenty of those options available in any of the three most likely destinations, so here's hoping the Vols draw an opponent that would stand as a quality win throughout the off-season.
- Who is the last team in the playoffs? Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State are in. For better and for worse the playoffs get drama right away: Baylor, Ohio State, or TCU? I think Ohio State is going to get in on the strength of what they did to Wisconsin yesterday, the best kind of closing argument. TCU should be out on their head-to-head loss to Baylor, and despite the top-heavy strength of the Big 12 over the Big 10, Ohio State may have played a deeper schedule and their loss was a loooooooong time ago. A scenario all the suits would love: #1 Oregon vs #4 Ohio State in Pasadena, #2 Alabama vs #3 Florida State in New Orleans. SB Nation's projections agree. We'll see.
This is your Selection Sunday open thread for all conversation, prognostication, and hopefully celebration. We'll enjoy the opportunity today and follow up with plenty of bowl preview coverage once we know who and where.