Holiday Bowl watch: Notre Dame’s famous pick and Utah are potential Pac-12 opponents

Sunday is only two weeks and two days away, but the college bowl picture will be fluid until a few hours before the announcement.

SDCCU Holiday Bowl officials will be on pins and needles in the meantime. They’re hoping things stay in place so that Notre Dame comes to town for the Dec. 28 game to be played at Petco Park.

Notre Dame played in San Diego for the first time in four years, defeating Navy 44-22 in a game played before a crowd of 63,626 at SDCCU Stadium.

The Fighting Irish (8-3), No. 15 in the CFP rankings for the week, closes out the regular season on Saturday afternoon ranked No. 6 USC (10-1).

Holiday Bowl matches are teams from the ACC (Notre Dame is grouped with the conference for bowl purposes) and the Pac-12. At this point, Utah (8-3) is a potential Pac-12 representative. The Utes wrap up the regular season on Saturday in Colorado.

Here’s a look at how things are shaping up in the ACC and Pac-12 as bowl officials look at the two teams that will be invited on Dec. 4 to this year’s game:

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

Wednesday, December 28, 5 p.m. (Fox), Petco Park

Expected return: $3.23 million per team.

Conference links: ACC vs. Pac-12.

Semi-final rounds 2022: Fiesta bowl, peach bowl.

The other six games for the new year: Cotton bowl, orange bowl, rose bowl, sugar bowl.

Forward arrangement: After filling the NY6 slots, the Holiday Bowl gets the second pick after the Alamo Bowl in the Pac-12 (note that in odd-numbered years, Holiday picks the third after the Alamo and Las Vegas bowls).

In the ACC, the Holiday Bowl, Gator Bowl, and Cheez-It Bowl all make their top three choices. If all three dishes choose different schools as their top pick, they get to win that team.

If there is an overlap, the conference and bowls work around the problem.

comments: The CFP selection committee moved Notre Dame three places—from 18th to 15th—in its most recent Top 25 ranking.

If Notre Dame beats USC, the Fighting Irish could potentially move up the standings and position themselves as wide at the Cotton Bowl. Of course, a lot of things need to fall into place – many teams and on top of them all losers – for this to happen.

If Notre Dame loses to USC, it’s all moot.

Even with a win, the most likely scenario is for the Irish to play Cheez-It, Gator, and Holiday Bowls.

At this point, North Carolina and No. 16 Florida State (8-3) appear to be a good match for Cheese It and Gator, based on both teams’ success and proximity to the bowls.

No. 8 Clemson (10-1) and No. 17 North Carolina (9-2) will meet in the ACC Championship Game. The Tigers will need help moving into a CFP berth, though both schools are still eyeing NY6 berths.

If either team stumbles down the stretch, they’ll both be loved in the Holiday Bowl.

A “no-repeat” clause — plus two recent losses — removes North Carolina (7-4) from consideration here since the Wolf Pack came to town last season to play UCLA, which pulled out at the last minute (citing COVID issues within the program) .

On the Pac-12 side, USC has aspirations of somehow qualifying for the playoffs, with the Rose Bowl as a consolation.

Last week’s loss to USC means No. 18 UCLA (8-3)’s best hope for a championship is the Alamo Bowl, which will also focus on Oregon State (9-2). The Ducks have to go past No. 21 Oregon State (8-3) this weekend to keep their NY6 game hopes alive.

After losing last week to Oregon, 14th seed Utah (8-3) fits perfectly into the Holiday Bowl picture. But Holiday Ball officials will be watching the Oregon State-Oregon game closely. If the Ducks tumble, they’ll also be a prime candidate for the holiday.

Impact Games Friday


(CFP Ratings)

NC State at #17 North Carolina, 12:30 p.m. (ABC)

Florida at #16 Florida State, 4:30 p.m. (ABC)

Pac 12

No. 18 UCLA at Cal, 1:30 p.m. (FOX)

Saturday Impact Games:


South Carolina at No. 8 Clemson, 9 a.m. (ABC)

Pac 12

No. 9 Oregon at No. 21 Oregon State, 12:30 p.m. (ABC)

When. 14 Utah in Colorado, 1 p.m

No. 15 Notre Dame at No. 6 USC, 4:30 p.m. (ABC)

No. 13 Washington State Washington, 7:30 (ESPN)

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