Allstate Sugar Bowl To Double as Playoff Semifinal Again This Season

NEW ORLEANS (June 12, 2020) – The 87th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic is scheduled to be played on Friday, January 1, 2021 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Sugar Bowl will double as a College Football Playoff Semifinal for the third time since the start of the new college football postseason format which was established for the 2014 season.

Ticket information for the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl will be released as it becomes available.

In the first season (2014) of the College Football Playoff format, the Allstate Sugar Bowl hosted one of the first Playoff Semifinals as fourth-seeded Ohio State upended No. 1 Alabama, 42-35. In addition to being a sold-out spectacle at the Superdome, the game was watched by 28,271,000 viewers on television (and online) making it the most viewed cable broadcast of all-time.

Ezekiel Elliott in the 2015 Allstate Sugar Bowl. Photo by Jonathan Bachman.

Despite being the underdog, Ohio State rolled up a total of 537 yards against the No. 1 defense in college football, one loaded with NFL prospects. Buckeye star Ezekiel Elliott had a sensational performance as he ran for a Sugar Bowl-record 230 yards and two touchdowns, including an 85-yard dash late in the fourth quarter to ice the victory.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer seemed satisfied when he assessed his overlooked Buckeyes. “They’re good enough. That was a sledgehammer game, that was classic. So we are good enough.”

That was an understatement. Eleven days after the Sugar Bowl, Ohio State beat Oregon 42-20 for the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship.

Three years later, the Sugar Bowl was at center stage once again as it hosted Alabama (again) and Clemson. This time, the Crimson Tide came in as the fourth-seeded underdog, taking on the top-ranked Tigers. And rankings once again proved irrelevant as the Tide used a bone-crushing defense to cruise to a 24-6 triumph.

Kendrick Payne, the defensive MVP of the 2018 Sugar Bowl. Photo by Kelley L. Cox.

An unlikely hero emerged in this game – Alabama noseguard Da’Ron Payne (pictured right). With ’Bama clinging to a 10-6 edge, the 300-pounder intercepted a pass in Tide territory. Then, in a move that had everyone – red and orange clad included – surprised, Alabama dialed up a trick play as quarterback Jalen Hurts found the big defender, now lined up at tight end, for a short-toss touchdown.

“I had been talking to Coach lots about [the team passing to him in a goal-line situation],” Payne said. “He said, ‘Just keep on working, and you might get it.’ And I tried my best to go out and practice and work hard, and they finally gave it to me.”

“When he made the interception, there was no doubt that we were going to throw him the ball on the goal line,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said with a laugh afterwards.

On the first play from scrimmage on the ensuing possession, a Clemson pass was deflected by ’Bama cornerback Levi Wallace. Tide middle linebacker Mack Wilson grabbed the tipped pass and brought it back 18 yards for a touchdown and the 24-6 lead with 5:27 left in the third quarter, effectively putting the game away.

Following the script of the 2015 Playoff Semifinal, the 2018 Sugar Bowl winner advanced to the title game and emerged victorious as the Crimson Tide upended SEC-rival Georgia. That Alabama team was the 28th national champion hosted by the Sugar Bowl all-time.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 96 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 86-year history. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 100,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.7 billion into the local economy in the last decade.