College Football Playoff 2021: Full Bowl Predictions for Biggest Matchups

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIDecember 3, 2021

College Football Playoff 2021: Full Bowl Predictions for Biggest Matchups

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    Since the College Football Playoff system was implemented in 2014, a lot of the same schools have made multiple appearances. Most notably, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma have each made it at least four times.

    If you have gotten tired of seeing the same programs battle it out for the national championship, then this season's edition of the CFP may appeal to you. There's a good chance that some fresh schools are going to be among the four-team field announced Sunday.

    Georgia is at No. 1 in the CFP rankings, and it's only made it once before (2017). No. 2 Michigan and No. 4 Cincinnati have never been to the playoff. And the first team out of the field at this point, No. 5 Oklahoma State, is also looking to make it for the first time.

    However, no team is in yet, and things could get shaken up this weekend because 10 conference championship games are set to take place.

    Here are some predictions for which teams will be playing in the top bowl matchups.

New Year's Six Bowl Predictions

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    College Football Playoff

    Orange Bowl (Dec. 31): Georgia vs. Oklahoma State

    Cotton Bowl (Dec. 31): Michigan vs. Cincinnati


    New Year's Six

    Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1): Alabama vs. Baylor

    Rose Bowl (Jan. 1): Ohio State vs. Oregon

    Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1): Michigan State vs. Ole Miss

    Peach Bowl (Dec. 30): Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh

Orange Bowl: Georgia vs. Oklahoma State

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    In order to get the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff, Georgia will likely need to defeat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday. Otherwise, the Bulldogs would fall down the rankings, potentially even getting passed by the Crimson Tide.

    But if Georgia improves to 13-0, it should earn the top spot. And not only that, but it has a good chance of knocking out Alabama in the process.

    The Crimson Tide have reached the CFP six times, with the 2019 season being the only time they have missed out. But they have already lost one game this year (Oct. 9 at Texas A&M) and had other close matchups against some of their SEC West rivals.

    Because of that, Alabama likely needs to become the first team to beat Georgia this season to get into the CFP. And that's going to be too tough to accomplish. The Crimson Tide have a solid offense, but they are going to struggle against the Bulldogs' dominant defense.

    A Georgia win would also create an opportunity for another team outside the top four of the CFP rankings to clinch a semifinal berth. And the most likely team to do that will be Oklahoma State.

    The Cowboys moved up to No. 5 in the rankings after notching a 37-33 win over rival Oklahoma in Week 13. They are set to face No. 9 Baylor in Saturday's Big 12 Championship Game.

    They have beaten the Bears once this season (a 24-14 victory on Oct. 2), and Oklahoma State shouldn't have trouble winning the Big 12 title Saturday afternoon. Then it will have to wait to see how the rest of the day's action plays out before knowing how strong of a chance it has to reach the CFP. Expect the Cowboys to be pleased with how things unfold.

Cotton Bowl: Michigan vs. Cincinnati

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    Michigan and Cincinnati have both overcome the odds to put themselves in position as CFP front-runners entering conference championship weekend. And both teams likely just need to win in order to get into the playoff for the first time.

    As recently as Week 13, it seemed unlikely the Wolverines were going to be in this spot. Ohio State was rolling and appeared poised to win a fifth consecutive Big Ten championship. But the Buckeyes won't even get a chance to play for the title.

    Michigan notched its biggest win of the Jim Harbaugh era last time out when it beat Ohio State 42-27. The Wolverines are now 11-1, with their only loss coming at Michigan State on Oct. 30. The Spartans are a solid team, and that defeat arrived in a hostile environment.

    If Michigan takes care of business and beats Iowa for the Big Ten championship on Saturday, there's no question that the Wolverines would be deserving of a CFP berth. They could move up to the No. 1 seed if Georgia loses, but they shouldn't count on that happening.

    Cincinnati is 12-0, yet it's still a surprise to see it so close to a CFP berth. That's not because the Bearcats aren't deserving. Rather, the selection committee has never selected a Group of Five school, mostly because Power Five programs typically play much more challenging schedules.

    But Cincinnati has proved itself as a top team, mostly with a 24-13 road win over Notre Dame (which is now ranked No. 6 in the CFP rankings) on Oct. 2. The Bearcats have rolled through their AAC schedule, as expected, and they are set to face Houston for the conference title Saturday.

    As long as Cincinnati wins the AAC championship, and it does so in convincing fashion, it should be on its way to the CFP. Then it will be fascinating to see how it stacks up against a team such as Michigan in the playoff semifinals.