NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Alabama and newly crowned Big 12 champion Kansas State will meet for the first time at the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
The Crimson Tide (10-2, No. 5 CFP) are headed to the Sugar Bowl for the 17th time after narrowly missing out on the four-team College Football Playoff because of losses at Tennessee and LSU on the last play of each game.
Kansas State (10-3, No. 9 CFP) did its best to help Alabama’s chances of a playoff berth by handing TCU its first loss of the season in overtime of Saturday’s Big 12 title game in Dallas.
But that close loss in a title game for TCU was not enough to persuade the College Football Playoff selection committee to drop the Horned Frogs out of the top four in its rankings. TCU wound up as the third seed and Ohio State, whose lone loss came against unbeaten Michigan, is the fourth seed and will meet top-seeded Georgia.
No. 2 seed Michigan will play TCU.
The Sugar Bowl could be the final college game for Alabama quarterback and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, who is eligible for the 2023 NFL draft and might even be the top player selected. This season he passed for 3,007 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Kansas State has been led this season offensively by running back Deuce Vaughn, who has rushed for 1,425 yards and eight touchdowns. Dual-threat quarterback Adrian Martinez passed for 1,261 yards and six TDs while rushing for 615 yards and 10 scores.
Alabama has played in 75 postseason games overall and is 9-7 at the Sugar Bowl. Kansas State is heading to the Sugar Bowl for the first time.
SEC vs. BIG 12
Since 2014, in seasons when the Sugar Bowl was not incorporated into the College Football Playoff as a semifinal, it has taken the top available teams outside the top four of the CFP rankings.
In those six non-CFP games, the Big 12 participant has won four times.
Overall, this will be the 17th Sugar Bowl meeting between teams that are current Big 12 or SEC members.
The first meeting came in the second Sugar Bowl in 1936 when TCU and Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh held off LSU.
The Big 12 holds a 10-6 advantage all-time.
Alabama has played in the Sugar Bowl four times since the 2008 season, losing all three times when the game was not part of the national championship structure.
The Crimson Tide beat Ohio State in a semifinal game at the end of the 2017 season en route to a national title victory over Georgia.