Bowl Projections 2021-22: Predictions for Top Teams Before Final CFP Poll Reveal

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIDecember 5, 2021

Bowl Projections 2021-22: Predictions for Top Teams Before Final CFP Poll Reveal

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Conference championship weekend had the potential to shake up the College Football Playoff landscape. It didn't quite do that, though, as there weren't too many surprising results Saturday. Instead, many of the top teams in the country solidified their spots atop the rankings.

    No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Cincinnati were all victorious. It was no shock that the Wolverines and Bearcats won the Big Ten and AAC championships, respectively, as both were favored heading into their games and seemed poised to lock in their spots in the CFP.

    As for Alabama, it once again proved that it's a force to be reckoned with, as it knocked off No. 1 Georgia 41-24 in the SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide will be heading to the CFP for the seventh time in the eight years since its introduction.

    Will Georgia still be heading to the CFP after its quest for an undefeated season came to an end? Here are predictions for the playoff field (which will be announced Sunday) as well as the matchups for the rest of the New Year's Six bowl games.

New Year's Six Bowl Predictions

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    Roger Steinman/Associated Press

    College Football Playoff

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

    Orange Bowl (Dec. 31): Michigan vs. Georgia


    New Year's Six

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

    Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1): Ole Miss vs. Baylor

    Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1): Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State

    Peach Bowl (Dec. 30): Michigan State vs. Pittsburgh

Alabama Will Be Back at No. 1 Entering CFP

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    This season, Alabama hasn't looked nearly as strong as last year's team, which went 13-0 and won the national title. And if the Crimson Tide had lost Saturday's SEC title game, they likely would not have made the College Football Playoff.

    Instead, Alabama put up 41 points on a Georgia defense that was giving up only 6.92 points per game during its 12-0 start. The Crimson Tide won their seventh SEC title in 10 years and showed they should be the No. 1 seed for the CFP for the second year in a row.

    "The resiliency they've shown all year makes this so special," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said, per Paul Newberry of the Associated Press. "... Playing a game [Saturday] to a level that most people probably didn't expect, I'm really proud of this bunch. They've shown tremendous ability to overcome adversity all year long."

    Will Alabama win back-to-back national titles? It has to win two more games against tough opponents to make that happen, but you can never count out the Crimson Tide at this time of year. And they are going to head into the CFP as the No. 1 seed and the favorite to win it all.

Georgia Still Gets into CFP at No. 3

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The last time two SEC teams reached the CFP in the same season was the 2017 campaign, when Georgia and Alabama were both included in the four-team field. This year, the CFP selection committee is likely going to put in both the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide again.

    Alabama is a lock, but Georgia will have to hope that its first 12 games were impressive enough to outweigh its loss to the Tide in the SEC title game. The Bulldogs have a strong resume, as they picked up some solid wins over teams such as Clemson, Arkansas, Kentucky and Auburn.

    While Michigan should be the No. 2 seed as the Big Ten champion, Georgia may only fall to No. 3 in the final rankings. That would set up an exciting matchup between the Wolverines and Bulldogs, with the winner perhaps going on to face the Crimson Tide.

    When Alabama and Georgia both reached the playoff in the 2017 season, the Bulldogs lost to the Crimson Tide in overtime in the CFP National Championship. That's part of Georgia's losing streak to Alabama, which extended to seven Saturday.

    With the Bulldogs likely still playoff bound, they are going to be looking for revenge against the Tide. But they will probably need to get to the championship game to get a chance for it.

Cincinnati Completes Bid to Make Playoff History

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    Jeff Dean/Associated Press

    Cincinnati has proved that there's a path for a Group of Five team to get into the College Football Playoff.

    By beating Houston in the AAC Championship Game, Cincinnati improved to 13-0 and added another quality victory to its resume. The team that will be closest to the Bearcats in the rankings will be Notre Dame, and Cincinnati earned a road victory over the Fighting Irish on Oct. 2.

    Because of that head-to-head result, the CFP selection committee can't justify moving Notre Dame (which, as an independent school, didn't play in a conference championship game) ahead of Cincinnati. So the Bearcats should be going to the playoff, even if it's as the No. 4 seed.

    Can Cincinnati hang with top Power Five teams such as Alabama, Michigan and Georgia? We're about to find out, especially if the Bearcats go up against the Crimson Tide in their semifinal matchup.