The number of cities bidding on the new Champions Bowl increased to five when Houston and San Antonio made their commitments to bid on Monday, sources told ESPN.
Both decisions were made two days before the bid deadline. Three of the five cities bidding are located in Texas -- Houston, San Antonio and Arlington. The other two are New Orleans and Atlanta. A decision on where the game will be held is expected to be made next month. The game will debut in primetime on Jan. 1, 2015.
Ten cities received a request for proposal (RFP) for the opportunity to bid on hosting the game. However, five cities -- Phoenix, Tampa, Nashville, Orlando and Jacksonville -- opted not to bid or remain undecided, sources said.
New Orleans and Arlington are considered the heavy favorites. Multiple sources told ESPN it's a "two-horse race" between those cities and that's part of the reason only five of the 10 cities will bid on the Champions Bowl, which was created by the SEC and Big 12 as a postseason home for each league's champion.
If the SEC or Big 12 champion advances to the national semifinals, each conference would then provide another team for the Champions Bowl. The Champions Bowl also will be part of the national playoff semifinal rotation four times during the 12-year term, starting after the 2014 regular season.
Brett McMurphy covers college football for ESPN.