Dec 19, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell holds up the AAC Championship trophy at the end of the game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

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Unbeaten Cincinnati receives New Year’s date with Georgia

Cincinnati’s long-shot hopes of somehow sneaking into the College Football Playoff were officially stomped into oblivion on Sunday.

The Bearcats (9-0) finished No. 8 in the final rankings, leaving them as one of three undefeated FBS schools that weren’t part of the CFP.

Coastal Carolina (11-0) finished at No. 12 and San Jose State (7-0) was No. 22.

The Bearcats did land the coveted New Year’s Six bowl berth later Sunday when they accepted an invitation from the Peach Bowl to face No. 9 Georgia (7-2) in Atlanta.

“It’s a really big deal for us to finish the season the way we started,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said on Sunday. “But I think it also puts you in a position for the following year to start off in a place where you have a chance to maybe reach the top because in our league and a lot of these games that we’re going to play, if you’re not recognized and noticed at the beginning of the season, it’s going to be tough to put yourself over the top unless you beat one of those top two, three, four, five teams.”

Playing on New Year’s Day will be a big deal for Cincinnati but the American Athletic Conference program will be hoping for a better outcome than its previous two appearances on the major bowl stage.

The Bearcats went 11-2 in the regular season in 2008 but lost 20-7 to Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. The next season, a 12-0 regular season netted a Sugar Bowl spot but Tim Tebow-led Florida blew out Cincinnati 51-24.

Coastal Carolina wasn’t ever a serious CFP option but accepting an invitation to the Cure Bowl in Orlando to face Liberty (9-1) seems to be a lesser quality bowl for the Chanticleers.

Coastal Carolina’s case for future credibility would have better served with a matchup against a power conference school. Their shining moment of this season was an exciting 22-17 upset of then-No. 8 Brigham Young earlier this month.

The Chanticleers, from the Sun Belt, will be making their first bowl appearance since moving up to the FBS ranks for the 2017 season. It was also their first winning season of the four-year run.

“We are excited to make history with our program’s first-ever bowl appearance at the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl,” Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell said in a statement. “Our team, coaches, and staff have worked tirelessly during this unprecedented time with COVID-19 and are deserving of this opportunity. It has been a magical season this year and we look forward to this next opportunity in such a well-respected bowl that supports a great cause in the great city of Orlando.”

San Jose State has been one of the more stunning stories of the college football season as it enters the Arizona Bowl matchup in Tucson versus Ball State (6-1).

A downtrodden program that went 1-11 two seasons earlier suddenly transformed into the best team in the Mountain West. The Spartans won all their games by double digits and punctuated their rise with a solid 34-20 victory over Boise State in the conference title game. It was their first win in 15 all-time meetings against the Broncos.

San Jose State’s 7-0 start is its best since its 1939 squad went unbeaten in 13 contests. Legendary Pop Warner was an advisory coach that season.

“It’s just been a beautiful journey,” San Jose State coach Brent Brennan said after Saturday’s victory. “It’s been magical.”

The Spartans went to just four bowl games over the previous 30 seasons but won all four.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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