Bowl Predictions 2021: Updated Predictions After Week 11 CFP Rankings

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 12, 2021

Bowl Predictions 2021: Updated Predictions After Week 11 CFP Rankings

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The top of the college football food chain did not change much in the past week.

    The Michigan State Spartans were the only top-five team to lose, but that defeat was not the end of their national title hopes.

    The Big Ten title race is still wide-open, with plenty of contenders left in the mix, including three teams that were ranked in the top 10 of the latest College Football Playoff rankings.

    Entering Week 11, everyone is still chasing the Georgia Bulldogs, who are in their own class on top of the sport.

    Georgia looks like the only lock to qualify for the College Football Playoff. The other contenders have a few more weeks' worth of work to prove they belong inside the top four in December.

Bowl Predictions

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    College Football Playoff

    Orange Bowl (December 31): No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Cincinnati

    Cotton Bowl (December 31): No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Oregon


    New Year's Six

    Peach Bowl (December 30): Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M 

    Fiesta Bowl (January 1): Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame

    Rose Bowl (January 1): Michigan State vs. Utah

    Sugar Bowl (January 1): Oklahoma State vs. Alabama


    Other Bowls

    Bahamas Bowl (December 17): Western Kentucky vs. Miami (Ohio)

    Cure Bowl (December 17): Eastern Michigan vs. Texas State 

    Boca Raton Bowl (December 18): UCF vs. Ohio

    New Mexico Bowl (December 18): Utah State vs. UTEP

    Independence Bowl (December 18): BYU vs. UTSA 

    LendingTree Bowl (December 18): Northern Illinois vs. Appalachian State 

    LA Bowl (December 18): USC vs. Fresno State

    New Orleans Bowl (December 18): Marshall vs. Louisiana

    Myrtle Beach Bowl (December 20): Florida Atlantic vs. South Alabama 

    Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (December 21): Central Michigan vs. San Diego State 

    Frisco Bowl (December 21): SMU vs. San Jose State

    Armed Forces Bowl (December 22): Air Force vs. UAB 

    Gasparilla Bowl (December 23): East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech 

    Hawai'i Bowl (December 24): Nevada vs. Memphis

    Camellia Bowl (December 25): Coastal Carolina vs. Ball State

    Quick Lane Bowl (December 27): Minnesota vs. Buffalo

    Military Bowl (December 27): Army vs. Middle Tennessee

    Birmingham Bowl (December 28): Western Michigan vs. Florida

    First Responder Bowl (December 28): TCU vs. Houston

    Liberty Bowl (December 28): Texas vs. South Carolina 

    Holiday Bowl (December 28): North Carolina vs. Oregon State 

    Guaranteed Rate Bowl (December 28): Texas Tech vs. Washington

    Fenway Bowl (December 29): Syracuse vs. Liberty

    Pinstripe Bowl (December 29): Miami vs. Penn State 

    Cheez-It Bowl (December 29): Pittsburgh vs. Iowa State 

    Alamo Bowl (December 29): Baylor vs. Washington State 

    Duke's Mayo Bowl (December 30): Virginia vs. Mississippi State

    Music City Bowl (December 30): Iowa vs. Tennessee

    Las Vegas Bowl (December 30): Purdue vs. Arizona State 

    Gator Bowl (December 31): NC State vs. Kentucky 

    Sun Bowl (December 31): Clemson vs. UCLA 

    Arizona Bowl (December 31): Boise State vs. Troy

    Outback Bowl (January 1): Wisconsin vs. Auburn

    Citrus Bowl (January 1): Michigan vs. Ole Miss

    Texas Bowl (January 4): Kansas State vs. Arkansas 

No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Cincinnati

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    Jeff Dean/Associated Press

    If Georgia wins out, it will be the unquestioned No. 1 team in the CFB Playoff rankings.

    The Bulldogs have three tune-up games ahead of the SEC Championship Game, where they could face the Alabama Crimson Tide or Texas A&M Aggies.

    Kirby Smart's team faces a potentially tricky test Saturday against the Tennessee Volunteers, who have looked sharp offensively under first-year head coach Josh Heupel.

    While Tennessee can keep pace with anyone on the scoreboard, its defense needs some work, which could kill its upset chances Saturday afternoon.

    Georgia has proved it is the superior team to any challenger in the SEC, and it has a strong enough defense to deal with either Alabama or Texas A&M in Atlanta.

    The playoff selection committee has been kind to Cincinnati compared to Group of Five teams in past seasons. The Bearcats started at No. 6, but they moved up to No. 5 after Michigan State's loss in Week 10. Although the Bearcats wish they could be higher, the message is clear: If they win out, they should land in the playoff.

    At least one top-four spot will be cleared if Alabama suffers a second loss, and the Big Ten's list of contenders will dwindle to one since Michigan and Michigan State still have to play Ohio State.

    Cincinnati struggled to finish off games in recent weeks, but what is most important is that it still won.

    The Bearcats could bolster their resume with a win over the SMU Mustangs in Week 12 and then by beating the Houston Cougars, their likely foe in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game.

    If Cincinnati reaches the playoff, it would likely be as the No. 4 seed because of how little the committee values Group of Five leagues compared to the power conferences.

No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Oregon

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    Rebecca S. Gratz/Associated Press

    The selection committee may be forced into setting up a rematch from a regular-season game in the playoff semifinals.

    Ohio State and Oregon both should be viewed as the favorites to win their respective conferences.

    The Buckeyes have a tougher path to the playoff since they have to play four ranked teams in a row, starting with the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday. Ohio State needs to beat Michigan State and Michigan just to get to the Big Ten Championship Game, where it would face a Top 25 side from the Big Ten West.

    If Ohio State wins out, it would have a much better resume than the Ducks and should land the No. 2 overall seed.

    The committee proved that head-to-head matchups can be rendered useless when it placed Michigan over Michigan State on Tuesday.

    Although Oregon beat Ohio State on the road in September, it would not have a comparable resume to compete for the No. 2 seed. Oregon's only ranked foe left on the schedule is Utah, which it may have to play twice since the Utes have an edge in the Pac-12 South standings.

    The committee could look into dropping Oregon to No. 4 and moving up Cincinnati to No. 3 to avoid a rematch, but that seems unlikely given how it views Group of Five teams.