College football predictions for 2021 bowl games, Playoff semifinals, national championship
Bowl Season returns in 2021-22 with a schedule that includes 43 bowl games between FBS teams.
While College Football Playoff expansion might be in the works, this year marks the eighth season of the four-team playoff. This year’s College Football Playoff championship game is Jan. 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The year’s semifinals are Dec. 31 at the Capital One Orange Bowl and Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
Sporting News’ Playoff picks are more of the same. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma have combined for 20 of the 28 total playoff appearances. Yet those four schools have yet to all make the Playoff in the same season.
SN has projections for all 43 bowl games here, and they will be updated throughout the season:
*Denotes not tied to bowl game
The Aggies and Irish get to settle last year’s playoff a year too late on a smaller stage. Both teams have quarterback battles worth watching in fall camp, but we’d more interested in the running backs in this one. Isaiah Spiller and Kyren Williams are both dark-horse Heisman candidates. This will be a fun table-setter for the rest of the New Year’s Day Six.
The Chanticleers are our Group of 5 selection, and some of that is based on Cincinnati’s tough nonconference schedule against Indiana and Notre Dame. The Sun Belt gets their due, and Grayson McCall gets matched up across North Carolina’s Sam Howell, who leads the Tar Heels to their second straight NY6 bowl appearance under Mack Brown.
USC and Wisconsin met in the Rose Bowl in 1953 and 1963, and this matches up the Pac-12 champion against the Big Ten runner-up. Kedon Slovis and Graham Mertz make it an intriguing matchup, but with these teams is comes down to who can the ball. It will be nice to have the Tournament of Roses Parade back, too.
The Bulldogs are forced to settle for a fourth straight New Year’s Day Six Bowl appearance unless JT Daniels can lead a Playoff run. Will that turn up any pressure on Kirby Smart? The Cyclones, meanwhile, are in an all-in year given the number of players who returned from last year’s Fiesta Bowl winner. Given the hype around both teams, this would feel a bit like a consolation game.
Didn’t we just watch this game? Both programs sent 10 players to the 2021 NFL Draft, but there is more than enough talent on both sides for a third CFP playoff matchup. The Buckeyes are loaded at receiver, and Alabama should be better on defense. What will Ryan Day do differently after last year’s CFP championship game loss?
This would be the more entertaining matchup given it features two of the top three quarterbacks in SN’s Top 25 QB rankings. Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei and Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler would put on an offensive show in this one. Which program faces more pressure? The Sooners are 0-4 in CFP semifinals, and the Tigers have been routed in their last two appearances.
More of the same. Until the CFP expands to 12 teams, this matchup will continue to pop up given the talent level assembled on both sides. The Crimson Tide and Tigers have split four playoff matchups the last seven years, and this time both schools travel north to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. We had Ohio State vs. Clemson in last year’s championship game.
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