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Bowl Projections 2022: Predictions For CFP Championship and Biggest Matchups

Erin WalshDecember 3, 2022

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 26: Stetson Bennett #13 reacts with Jack Podlesny #96 of the Georgia Bulldogs in the second half against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Sanford Stadium on November 26, 2022 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The 2022 college football regular season might be over, but conference championship week has arrived, and after that we'll be watching some of the best matchups of the year in the College Football Playoff.

The 2022 CFP will include just four teams for the penultimate time before it triples in size to 12 teams beginning during the 2024-25 season. The CFP's Board of Managers formally approved the expanded playoff on Thursday.

Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, said in a statement:

"More teams and more access mean more excitement for fans, alumni, students and student-athletes. We appreciate the leaders of the six bowl games and the two future national championship game host cities for their cooperation. Everyone realized that this change is in the best interest of college football and pulled together to make it happen."

While it's fun to speculate what a 12-team College Football Playoff would look like, that's still two years away. So, let's focus on the 2022 CFP and which teams might be vying for the coveted title.

First, though, let's take a look at conference championship week and what impact that may have on the CFP outcome.


Conference Championship Week's Biggest Games 

Pac-12 Championship Game

Utah 47, USC 24

Big 12 Championship Game

No. 3 TCU vs. No. 10 Kansas State

SEC Championship Game

No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 14 LSU

ACC Championship Game

No. 9 Clemson vs. No. 23 North Carolina

Big Ten Championship Game

No. 2 Michigan vs. Purdue

American Athletic Conference Championship Game

No. 18 Tulane vs. No. 22 UCF


College Football Playoff Rankings, Top 10

No. 1 Georgia: 12-0

No. 2 Michigan: 12-0

No. 3 TCU: 12-0

No. 4 USC: 11-2

No. 5 Ohio State: 11-1

No. 6 Alabama: 10-2

No. 7 Tennessee: 10-2

No. 8 Penn State: 10-2

No. 9 Clemson: 10-2

No. 10 Kansas State: 9-3

This was the top 10 as selected by the CFP Committee entering conference championship week.

The biggest games of conference championship week are those that will have the largest implications for the College Football Playoff. The matchups for No. 4 USC, No. 3 TCU, No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Michigan will be must-watch games.

A win against Kansas State for the 12-0 TCU Horned Frogs would essentially secure the team a spot in the CFP. TCU defeated K-State 38-28 at home earlier in the season after mounting an 18-point comeback.

The Georgia Bulldogs are already likely into the CFP after finishing the regular season 12-0, but a win over the LSU Tigers would help the team solidify itself as the No. 1 seed for the four-team playoff.

A loss by the Bulldogs would open up a chance for the 12-0 Michigan Wolverines to capture the No. 1 seed for the CFP. However, Michigan would need to move to 13-0 with a win over Purdue in the Big Ten Championship Game.

The CFP Committee will make its final decision on the four-team playoff on Sunday. The 2022 College Football Playoff Selection Show will air at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN.


Bowl Game Projections

Capital One Orange Bowl

Friday, December 30 on ESPN

Projected Matchup: Clemson vs. Tennessee

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Saturday, December 31 on ESPN

Projected Matchup: Alabama vs. Kansas State

Rose Bowl

Monday, January 2 on ESPN

Projected Matchup: Penn State vs. Utah

Goodyear Cotton Bowl

Monday, January 2 on ESPN

Projected Matchup: USC vs. Tulane

The big bowl matchups here are Clemson vs. Tennessee and Alabama vs. Kansas State. Alabama was considered a potential pick for the CFP, but no two-loss team has ever been selected for the four-team title race.

That said, Alabama would be the clear favorite to defeat Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl, especially with a fully healthy Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

Had Young been healthy all year, the Crimson Tide might have been in a better position to contend for the SEC title game and a shot in the CFP.

The Orange Bowl features a matchup of teams that were each in the initial top four of this year's playoff rankings back in Week 9. Unfortunately for Tennessee, it will be without potential Heisman Trophy candidate Hendon Hooker, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury on Nov. 19. Joe Milton III will fill in at quarterback for the Volunteers' bowl game.


CFP Predictions

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Saturday, December 31 on ESPN

Projected Matchup: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl

Saturday, December 31 on ESPN

Projected Matchup: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU

CFP National Championship

Monday, January 9 on ESPN

Projected Matchup: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 2 Michigan

If both Georgia and Michigan win their respective conference championship games, they will likely remain the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively. The same can be said for No. 3 TCU.

The Bulldogs and Wolverines are undoubtedly the favorites to reach the CFP national championship game, but both Ohio State and TCU could put up a good fight.

Specifically, the Buckeyes could shock many and upset No. 1 Georgia with a top-tier performance from quarterback C.J. Stroud and wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. in the Peach Bowl.

Stroud, a Heisman Trophy candidate, is a far better quarterback than Georgia's Stetson Bennett. That said, Stroud is going to face a much tougher Georgia defense, which will make it difficult for the Buckeyes to move the ball.

TCU's path to the CFP could be similar to that of the 2021 season's Cincinnati Bearcats. The Horned Frogs have had a magical season, defeating the likes of Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas en route to a 12-0 record.

Quarterback Max Duggan, running back Kendre Miller and wide receiver Quentin Johnson also performed better than expected, and there's no reason to believe they won't give Michigan a run for its money in the Fiesta Bowl.

Still, Michigan has all the tools to make it back to the CFP national championship despite a season-ending injury to star running back Blake Corum.