CFP Bowl Projections 2022: Predicting Playoff, New Year's Games
Rivalry Weekend was as wild and entertaining as expected, and the college football rankings are likely to see a massive shake-up near the top.
Losses by Ohio State, Clemson and LSU could put some separation between the teams bound for the College Football Playoff and the rest of the pack. While the final rankings won't be released until December 4—and we still have a round of conference championship games to endure—we can make an educated guess about how things will unfold.
That's exactly what we'll do here. Using the current rankings, the Week 13 results and teams' overall resumes as guidelines, we'll make projections for the playoffs and this year's biggest bowl games.
Georgia should remain at No. 1 following a decisive 37-14 win over Georgia Tech. How might the rest of the bowl picture look following Rivalry Weekend? Let's take a look.
CFB Playoff, New Year's Six Predictions
Peach Bowl (December 31): No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 USC
Fiesta Bowl (December 31): No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU
New Year's Six Bowls
Rose Bowl (January 2): Ohio State vs. Washington
Cotton Bowl (January 2): Penn State vs. UCF
Sugar Bowl (December 31): Alabama vs. Kansas State
Orange Bowl (December 30): Clemson vs. Tennessee
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU
Michigan's win over Ohio State could change the bowl layout dramatically. The Wolverines didn't just survive the second-ranked Buckeyes, they dominated them in a 45-23 game.
Ohio State had no answer for quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who torched the Buckeyes defense with multiple deep passes. Several of McCarthy's throws either resulted in big gains or coverage penalties.
Ohio State was flagged nine times in the game, while McCarthy finished 12-of-24 for 263 yards and three touchdowns.
Surprisingly, Michigan won without much help from star running back Blake Corum, who is dealing with a knee injury and only logged two carries early in the game. McCarthy showed that he can carry the Wolverines offense, and that ability could make Michigan a serious threat in the playoffs.
Next up for the Wolverines is a matchup with the Purdue Boilermakers in the Big Ten Championship Game. Don't expect Michigan to spend too much time celebrating their big rivalry win over the Buckeyes.
"The job’s not finished. We got so much more to do and so many places to go," McCarthy said, per Trevor Woods of SB Nation.
Assuming the Wolverines outlast Purdue, Michigan should claim the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State's loss will likely bump TCU up to No. 3. The Horned Frogs remain undefeated and put together a statement on Saturday against Iowa State. TCU thrashed the Cyclones in a lopsided 62-14 contest.
After narrowly escaping Baylor a week ago, Saturday's win reminded everyone just how dangerous TCU can be. Quarterback Max Duggan threw a trio of touchdown passes, while running back Kendre Miller rushed for a pair of scores.
TCU's resume is strong, with wins over ranked opponents in Kansas State, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas. TCU is also set to play in the Big 12 Championship Game on December 3.
Assuming TCU gets past Kansas State again—the Frogs won by 10 in the first meeting—it should snag the No. 3 spot and set up a thrilling matchup between undefeated contenders.
No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 USC
Had the Bulldogs only squeaked past Georgia Tech on Saturday, a case could potentially be made for moving Michigan to No. 1. However, Georgia left few questions about which team in the country has the best resume.
The Bulldogs remain unblemished and have won their last seven games by at least 10 points. Georgia has also beaten ranked teams in Oregon and Tennessee.
Up next for the Bulldogs is an LSU team that appears vulnerable after the loss to Texas A&M. The Tigers were on a five-game winning streak that included victories over ranked Mississippi and Alabama.
Georgia won't take LSU lightly, though, as it looks to cement a spot in the College Football Playoff.
"We didn't come to this season trying to go 12-0. We tried to go 15-0," quarterback Stetson Bennett said, per Connor Riley of DawgNation. "We got another step ahead of us next week in Atlanta against a really good football team in LSU."
The question of which team claims the No. 4 seed could be a little trickier. There's a chance that the one-loss Buckeyes sneak into the playoff after only losing to Michigan. Expect the committee to have a tough time picking between the Buckeyes and one-loss USC.
The prediction here is that the Trojans get the nod after a strong 38-27 win over No. 13 Notre Dame. The only blemish on USC's record is a one-point loss to Utah back in Week 7. Our guess is that the Trojans get past the Utes in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
The rise of quarterback Caleb Williams this season and his recent hot streak have a lot to do with this prediction. Williams has emerged as a potential front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, and he was fantastic once again against Notre Dame.
"I mean, it was unreal," Trojans running back Austin Jones said, per ESPN's Paolo Uggetti.
Williams finished 18-of-22 for 232 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 35 yards and three scores. He's playing like a force that can't be contained, and he should carry the Trojans to a vindication win over Utah.
And winning the rematch should be enough to land USC at No. 4. The Buckeyes have no chance to redeem themselves for Saturday's defeat.