Bowl Predictions 2021: Full Projections for CFP Final and More Top Games

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIDecember 4, 2021

Bowl Predictions 2021: Full Projections for CFP Final and More Top Games

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Of the top six teams in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, only one has won a national championship since the system was implemented in 2014: Alabama, which may not even reach the CFP this year.

    A fairly new group of teams could fill out the four-team bracket for this year's playoff. However, it all depends on what transpires Saturday, when eight conference championships will be on the line and many of the top teams in the country will be in action.

    The top four spots in the rankings belong to Georgia, Michigan, Alabama and Cincinnati. But there's guaranteed to be movement, as Georgia and Alabama will be facing off in the SEC Championship Game.

    What will the CFP landscape look like once everything unfolds? Here are predictions for the New Year's Six matchups, along with guesses for what will happen when the playoff begins.

New Year's Six Bowl Predictions

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    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. Utah

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

    Peach Bowl (Dec. 30): Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest

CFP Semifinal Matchup Predictions

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Georgia, Michigan and Cincinnati should all get into the College Football Playoff by winning their respective conference titles. Each of the three is ranked in the top four, and it's hard to imagine any would fall if victorious Saturday.

    The Bulldogs face the toughest challenge considering they are taking on Alabama. They need to reverse recent history because they haven't defeated the Crimson Tide since 2007 and have lost each of the previous six meetings between the programs.

    The Wolverines are taking on Iowa, which appeared to be a Big Ten front-runner early in the season before losing back-to-back games to Purdue and Wisconsin in October. Michigan should win handily, but Iowa may keep it close for a bit.

    The Bearcats are getting close to becoming the first Group of Five school to reach the CFP, but first they need to beat Houston in the AAC Championship Game. Cincinnati has rolled through most of its conference competition, and Saturday's matchup shouldn't be much different.

    While those three teams should then be easy picks for the CFP field, the selection committee will have to decide which other program should join them. If Alabama loses to Georgia, it is likely to miss out given no two-loss team has reached the playoff before.

    Oklahoma State could make it an easy decision if it beats Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game. The Cowboys are 11-1 and ranked No. 5.

    Things will get more difficult for the selection committee if Oklahoma State loses, but that won't be an issue. The Cowboys beat the Bears earlier this season, and they will do so again with the Big 12 title on the line, securing the first CFP berth in program history in the process.

    Prediction: 1. Georgia; 2. Michigan; 3. Cincinnati; 4. Oklahoma State.

Final Prediction: Georgia vs. Michigan

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    For much of the season, a lot of college football fans wanted to see Georgia and Ohio State face off for the national title. They wondered what would happen if the Bulldogs' dominant defense faced off against the Buckeyes' high-powered offense.

    But we're not going to get to find out. Michigan beat Ohio State in the teams' regular-season finale. Instead, we'll get to see what happens when the Wolverines get a chance to try to spoil the Bulldogs' undefeated season.

    Georgia is on a roll and has been the top team in the country all year. If it can limit Alabama's offense in the SEC Championship Game, it should have no trouble doing the same against Oklahoma State in the CFP semifinals. That's how the Bulldogs will improve to 14-0 and get to the CFP National Championship for the first time since the 2017 season.

    Meanwhile, Michigan will get off to a strong start in its CFP debut by handing Cincinnati its first loss of the season. The Wolverines have had a more challenging schedule, and that will have them better prepared to extend their season.

    Handily defeating the Bearcats will set up a national title game matchup against Georgia, which will mark the third meeting between the schools—and the first since 1965.

    While the final game of the season will be competitive, Georgia's defense will be just too tough for Michigan to gain consistent yardage against. This has been a special season for the Bulldogs, and it's only fitting if they end it by winning the program's first national championship since 1980.

    A new era of Georgia fans will finally get to celebrate, and not just a national title but also a perfect season.

    Prediction: Georgia over Michigan. 

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