The fifth-ranked Aggies (8-1) are the first one-loss SEC team to not make the playoff and will take on the Tar Heels on Jan. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The Orange Bowl matchup is an unfamiliar one. North Carolina has never played in the bowl, and Texas A&M hasn't appeared in it in 77 years. This will also be the first meeting between the two programs.
"Well, we were disappointed that we weren't in the top four, but we understand this is all subjective, and it's your opinion on things and they had a process they went through," Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said Sunday. "It is where it is, and we're getting ready to go play a great Orange Bowl game and hopefully a very good team in North Carolina, which we know is a very good team and get ready to finish this season off."
Another team that might have a gripe with its placement is Cincinnati. The Bearcats went 9-0, but playing an AAC schedule seemed to work against them. Cincinnati's reward for an unbeaten regular season? A date with the Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Jan. 1.
Bearcats coach Luke Fickell said the team's situation is "disappointing," but added neither he nor his team is disappointed about playing in the Peach Bowl.
"Disappointing, meaning just for the sheer fact that yeah, you would love an opportunity and a shot at the title," Fickell explained, "so would Georgia, so would Texas A&M, but the reality is there's only four that are going to get that opportunity, and we don't happen to be one of them. Those are things that are outside our control. This is going to be an incredible opportunity for us, and I think that's what our kids thrive on and enjoy the most."
CFP selection committee chair Gary Barta said the group still favored the Bearcats over fellow unbeaten Group of 5 team Coastal Carolina (11-0).
"The committee just believed that Cincinnati was a better team," Barta said.
The Chanticleers will instead face another Group of 5 school, Liberty (9-1), in the Cure Bowl on Dec. 26.
Fisher said that while he remains a "traditionalist" he believes the playoff should be expanded.
"I just think today's times and the changes we've made, I never thought it would come out of my mouth like this, but we do [need to expand]," Fisher said. "And I think it matters to the kids, it matters to the people, because there's no easy way to judge this thing, and get it as fair [as it should be]. Now, it may not always be. But I think if you expanded more, include the bowl games in it, I think you have to ... I truly believe it's got to happen."
The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl will feature Pac-12 champion Oregon and Big 12 runner-up Iowa State. The Ducks began the season as the Pac-12's only ranked team and ended up winning the conference title, but only after finishing second in their own division. Oregon replaced a Washington Huskies team beset by COVID-19 issues and knocked off the previously unbeaten USC Trojans in the title game.
Expect a high-scoring affair at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic when Oklahoma faces SEC runner-up Florida. Neither team has scored fewer than 27 points this season, although the Gators will be without offensive weapon Kyle Pitts. The tight end announced Sunday that he won't play in the team's bowl game and will skip his senior year to enter the NFL draft.
The Sooners are at home in the Cotton Bowl after winning their sixth straight Big 12 championship there Saturday.
It's been 12 years since Oklahoma and Florida played each other, but the Gators have fond memories: Florida won that game to take the BCS title for its last national championship.
The Associated Press and ESPN's Sam Khan Jr. contributed to this report.