Bowl Projections 2021: CFP Predictions, Postseason Outlook Heading into Week 12
While a handful of marquee FBS programs are fighting for spots in the College Football Playoff, two others are hoping just to get bowl-eligible in the next two weeks.
The Texas Longhorns and Florida Gators have gone through nightmarish seasons that have been plagued by defeats to programs they typically blow out.
The historic programs out of the Big 12 and SEC need to win in the next two weeks to secure bowl eligibility for the 2021 postseason.
Meanwhile at the top, the game between Ohio State and Michigan State will help sort out the CFP picture.
The Buckeyes enter the weekend in the top four and can get one step closer to a playoff berth by winning at home.
If the Spartans win on the road, the playoff and New Year's Six projections could change again, as they did after Michigan State's loss to the Purdue Boilermakers two weeks ago.
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. Michigan
Fiesta Bowl (January 1): Ole Miss vs. Notre Dame
Rose Bowl (January 1): Michigan State vs. Utah
Sugar Bowl (January 1): Oklahoma State vs. Alabama
Bahamas Bowl (December 17): UAB 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): UCLA vs. Fresno State
New Orleans Bowl (December 18): Western Kentucky 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. Marshall
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): Rutgers vs. Buffalo
Military Bowl (December 27): Army vs. Middle Tennessee
Birmingham Bowl (December 28): Western Michigan vs. Charlotte
First Responder Bowl (December 28): Texas vs. Houston
Liberty Bowl (December 28): Iowa State vs. Florida
Holiday Bowl (December 28): North Carolina vs. Oregon State
Guaranteed Rate Bowl (December 28): Texas Tech vs. Washington
Fenway Bowl (December 29): Boston College vs. Liberty
Pinstripe Bowl (December 29): Miami vs. Minnesota
Cheez-It Bowl (December 29): Virginia vs. Baylor
Alamo Bowl (December 29): Oklahoma vs. Washington State
Duke's Mayo Bowl (December 30): Pittsburgh vs. Mississippi State
Music City Bowl (December 30): Penn State 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. USC
Arizona Bowl (December 31): Boise State vs. Troy
Outback Bowl (January 1): Wisconsin vs. Auburn
Citrus Bowl (January 1): Iowa vs. Texas A&M
Texas Bowl (January 4): Kansas State vs. Arkansas
Big Ten Will Provide Playoff Clarity
Saturday's clash between Michigan State and Ohio State will serve as one of a handful of playoff elimination games over the next three weeks.
The Buckeyes and Spartans both come into the game with one loss, so the playoff math is easy to follow here.
The winner of the Big Ten East showdown will stay alive in the playoff picture, but the loser will be out of the top-four hunt and in the market for a Rose Bowl berth.
Both teams could finish with a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Michigan Wolverines, which would make the loser's case stronger for a trip to Pasadena, California on New Year's Day.
Ohio State is the Big Ten's best playoff contender at the moment. Ryan Day's team is fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings, and it is coming off one of its best performances of the season against the Purdue Boilermakers.
If the Buckeyes win at home, they are not out of the clear since they have to visit the Michigan Wolverines next week.
The Buckeyes are well equipped for the tough finish because they have the most dynamic offense in the FBS.
Ohio State leads the FBS in yards per game at 550 and points per game at 46.3. It will be a tough opponent for any defense right now, including the Georgia Bulldogs' top-rated unit.
A potential national championship game between the top offense and No. 1 defense would be great for the sport, but Ohio State needs to run the gauntlet of its schedule to get there.
Florida, Texas Fighting to Become Bowl-Eligible
Florida and Texas are currently living through their worst-case scenarios as programs.
The Gators lost on the road to the South Carolina Gamecocks and needed a second-half comeback to survive an upset from the Samford Bulldogs out of the FCS in Week 11.
Texas suffered one of its most humiliating defeats in program history on Saturday, when it lost in overtime to the Kansas Jayhawks at home.
The trajectory of both programs is woeful right now, but they can try to create positive momentum going into 2022 by earning victories to finish the regular season and advancing to bowl games.
Texas enters Week 12 with a 4-6 mark, so it needs wins over the West Virginia Mountaineers and Kansas State Wildcats to feel safe about its bowl status. It could still get to a bowl at 5-7 if there are not enough bowl-eligible teams spread across the FBS.
Even if they win out, the Longhorns would be headed to one of the lower-tier bowls, which would be a great draw for the game but a damning reminder of how far they are from contending for a playoff spot.
Florida was in the playoff mix last season, but after losing a ton of talent, it failed to replicate that level of success.
The Gators should meet the six-win requirement for bowl eligibility on Saturday with a win over the Missouri Tigers, which have given up 231 points in conference play. Only the Vanderbilt Commodores have a worse defensive mark.
A commanding win on Saturday would ease a few nerves in Gainesville ahead of the rivalry clash with Florida State on Nov. 27.