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Big 12 and SEC champs will meet annually in Sugar Bowl if they're not part of national playoffs

The two best conferences in college football, the Big 12 and the SEC, have announced that the best team from each league will be paired against one another in the Sugar Bowl, beginning as early as January 2015.

Beginning in 2014, the champions of the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference, arguably the two strongest conferences in what is now the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, will meet in the annual postseason Sugar Bowl matchup.

In making the announcement, the two conferences said the respective league champions would meet in the Sugar Bowl game in New Orleans unless one or both of the two league champions are participants in the four-team national playoff, or if the Sugar Bowl is one of the two semifinal sites that particular year.

What this means is, after the 2013 season, the Big 12 will sever its current bowl relationship with the Fiesta Bowl, which since 1996 has extended an automatic invitation to the Big 12 champion, or the league's second best team if the champion was one of the two teams playing for the national championship. The Big 12-SEC arrangement for the Sugar Bowl is like what has long been in place between the Big Ten and the Pac-12 conferences for the Rose Bowl.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is excited about the new bowl arrangement. "We'll play our champion against the champion of the SEC, and that's no small task taking on the best league in the country," he said.

When the new four-team championship playoff format kicks off in January 2015, college football is expected to have six major bowls. In addition to the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls, the belief is that the Cotton, Fiesta and Chick-fil-A bowls will be added to complete the lineup of major bowls that will be part of the rotation for the national semifinals. Every year, two of the six will be designated as a host site for one of the national semifinal games.

The site for the national championship will be a separate matter, and the speculation at this time is that Jerry Jones' Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, is a front runner to host major college football's national title game in January 2015.

As an example of how all of this would work, based on the BCS rankings as of today, Alabama, Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame would be the four teams involved in the national semifinal games (probably Alabama vs. Oregon and Kansas State vs. Notre Dame), with the winners moving on to the national championship. If the Sugar Bowl was not one of the host sites for the national semifinals, again based on the conference standings as of today, Oklahoma and Georgia would be paired up in the holiday Sugar Bowl contest.

In addition to the Sugar Bowl agreement, Bowlsby said the Big 12 and SEC are also are discussing a basketball challenge series between the two conferences. If the two leagues can come to agreement on such a basketball partnership, it could begin as early as the 2013-14 season.

In other Big 12 news, officials at Oklahoma and Nebraska have reached agreement in principle to renew their historic football series. As things stand now, the rivalry would be continued in the 2021 season with a game in Norman. The following year the two teams would meet in Lincoln. The last time these two national football powers met in the regular season was in October 2009. The two longtime Midwest rivals also played in the Big 12 Championship in December 2010, won by Oklahoma. That was Nebraska's final football game in the Big 12. The next season, the Cornhuskers became members of the Big Ten Conference.

Follow Big 12 Conference sports, including current news, team developments and statistics and schedules, all season long.