Bowl Predictions 2022: Full Projections For CFP Final and More Top Games
The window has been opened for Ohio State to reach the College Football Playoff this season. In fact, it seems like a certainty that the Buckeyes will now be part of the four-team CFP field.
On Friday night, USC fell to Utah 47-24 in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. It was the Trojans' second loss of the season, both coming against the Utes. And now, USC is unlikely to make the first CFP appearance in program history.
Ohio State, which is sitting at No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings, should capitalize, even though it isn't playing on conference championship weekend. The Buckeyes went 11-1 during the regular season, with their only loss coming against Michigan (the No. 2 team in the country) in their finale.
USC's loss impacted the New Year's Six bowl landscape in numerous other ways as well. Here are the latest projections for the top bowl matchups heading into Saturday's conference championship action.
CFP and New Year's Six Projections
Peach Bowl (CFP semifinal): No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State
Fiesta Bowl (CFP semifinal): No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU
CFP National Championship: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 2 Michigan
Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. Utah
Cotton Bowl: USC vs. Tulane
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Kansas State
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Tennessee
Peach Bowl: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State
Georgia is at No. 1 in the CFP rankings, and it will end up with the top seed as long as it beats LSU in the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs, who are 12-0 after storming through the regular season, are heavily favorited over the Tigers and shouldn't have much trouble.
Even if Georgia gets upset, it should still get into the College Football Playoff field. It likely wouldn't be the No. 1 seed, but it would still earn a berth from the selection committee.
Ohio State should be the No. 4 seed after USC's loss in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Buckeyes were the first team out of the CFP field in the rankings, and they'll move up from No. 5 to reach the Playoff for the third time in four seasons.
It's possible that Ohio State could even move up to No. 3 if TCU loses to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday. But the prediction here is that the Buckeyes will end up as the No. 4 seed and go to the Peach Bowl to take on the Bulldogs.
Georgia and Ohio State have never previously met in a College Football Playoff matchup. In fact, the two programs have faced off only once before: The Bulldogs defeated the Buckeyes 21-14 in the Citrus Bowl at the end of the 1992 season.
This year, Georgia has one of the most dominant defenses in the country. Ohio State's offense is stacked with playmakers and has one of the nation's top quarterbacks in junior C.J. Stroud. Plus, the Buckeyes will be looking to prove they belong in the CFP despite not even making it to the Big Ten Championship Game.
But Georgia will be the favorite to advance to the CFP National Championship Game regardless of its opponent. And the Bulldogs may even be on their way to a second straight national title.
Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU
The Fiesta Bowl should feature a matchup of undefeated Power Five conference champions. But Michigan and TCU each first have to take care of business on Saturday.
The Wolverines shouldn't have any trouble in the Big Ten Championship Game, which could be the most lopsided conference title bout taking place this weekend. After going 12-0 in the regular season, Michigan will face Purdue, which went 8-4 and didn't face a ton of top competition.
Michigan was the No. 2 seed in last season's College Football Playoff, which was its first appearance in program history. But the Wolverines fell to Georgia in the Orange Bowl, a semifinal matchup. This season, they shouldn't encounter the Bulldogs until a potential CFP National Championship Game matchup.
However, Michigan will likely have to get past TCU. It's possible the Horned Frogs could get into the College Football Playoff even if they suffer a close loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game. But there's also a chance the selection committee would exclude TCU in that scenario.
That's why it's important for the Horned Frogs to win and prevent those conversations from needing to happen. They already beat the Wildcats during the regular season (a 38-28 victory on Oct. 22), but this could be another close game.
TCU is used to playing competitive contests in its first season under head coach Sonny Dykes. And it also knows how to win those types of games.
So don't be surprised if the Fiesta Bowl features a matchup between Michigan and TCU, which would be the first meeting between the programs ever.