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How teams are picked for the CFP semifinals between the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl

We take a look at the process of who goes where for the CFP semifinals.

Rose Bowl - Utah v Penn State Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Update December 3, 12:30 p.m. Michigan as the No. 1 seed chooses the Rose Bowl, and they’ll face the Alabama Crimson Tide. Washington is the No. 2 seed, and will be in the Sugar Bowl vs. the No. 3 Texas Longhorns.

Update December 2, 11:45 p.m. With Michigan or Washington the likely No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff tomorrow, whichever team gets that nod will be able to choose. Either way, you can expect the No. 1 seed to likely choose the Rose Bowl as their field for the semifinal.

There’s a very slim chance Michigan would want to stay a bit closer to home in New Orleans, but the appeal of Pasadena to Big Ten progams is well-known.


We’ve reached Championship Weekend for the 2023 college football season and by Sunday afternoon, we will finally know the four-team field for the College Football Playoff. The two semifinal games will take place on New Year’s Day with the first being held at the Rose Bowl in Pasedena, CA, and the second being held at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

You might wonder how it’s determined who goes where for these matchups and it’s quite simple. The No. 1 ranked team in the final CFP rankings gets to choose where it wants to go for its semifinal contest. This is done as a reward for the top-ranked team, ensuring that they get their preferred destination where they can bring their fans.

Proximity and historical significance play a huge factor when the No. 1 team chooses its semifinal location and that will once again be the case this year. If Georgia ends up with the top seed for example, it will most likely choose the Sugar Bowl considering that New Orleans is a manageable drive for most its fanbase.

If Michigan were to get the No. 1 seed, it will most likely choose the Rose Bowl considering that Pasadena has historically been the prized destination for the Big Ten champion. The same goes for Washington, given both the proximity on the West Coast and the Pac-12’s historical ties to the Tournament of Roses.

We’ll see who gets this honor on Sunday.