Bowl Games 2021-22: TV Schedule and Predictions for Most Anticipated Matchups
The stage is set for college football bowl season, and there will be plenty of entertaining games taking place over the next few weeks. Of course, none will be bigger than the trio of College Football Playoff games that will decide a national champion.
No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Cincinnati will face off in the Cotton Bowl while No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Georgia will play in the Orange Bowl, with both semifinal matchups taking place on Dec. 31. The winners will advance to the CFP National Championship Game on Jan. 10.
However, there are many other bowl games coming our way, many of which will feature at least one team that finished in the top 25 of the CFP rankings. So, there should be some great contests even outside of the playoff matchups.
Here's a look at the schedule for the top bowl games this year, along with predictions for each, followed by more on several of the marquee matchups.
Schedule, Predictions for Top 25 Bowl Matchups
Saturday, Dec. 18
Independence Bowl: No. 13 BYU vs. UAB, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
New Orleans Bowl: No. 23 Louisiana vs. Marshall, 9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Tuesday, Dec. 21
Frisco Bowl: No. 24 San Diego State vs. UTSA, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Tuesday, Dec. 28
Birmingham Bowl: No. 20 Houston vs. Auburn, noon ET, ESPN
Holiday Bowl: No. 18 NC State vs. UCLA, 8 p.m. ET, Fox
Wednesday, Dec. 29
Cheez-It Bowl: No. 19 Clemson vs. Iowa State, 5:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
Alamo Bowl: No. 14 Oregon vs. No. 16 Oklahoma, 9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Thursday, Dec. 30
Peach Bowl: No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Friday, Dec. 31
Gator Bowl: No. 17 Wake Forest vs. No. 25 Texas A&M, 11 a.m. ET, ESPN
Cotton Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Orange Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Saturday, Jan. 1
Outback Bowl: No. 21 Arkansas vs. Penn State, noon ET, ESPN2
Fiesta Bowl: No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
Citrus Bowl: No. 15 Iowa vs. No. 22 Kentucky, 1 p.m. ET, ABC
Rose Bowl: No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Utah, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sugar Bowl: No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 8 Ole Miss, 8:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
Games can be streamed on either ESPN or Fox Sports apps. Picks in bold.
Ohio State Will Bounce Back to Rout Utah in Rose Bowl
Despite falling short of its goal of reaching the College Football Playoff, Ohio State still gets to play in one of the most prestigious bowl games. The Buckeyes are heading to the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day when they'll take on Utah, which won the Pac-12 championship.
Ohio State was dominant for most of the regular season, but it had a nine-game winning streak snapped in its final game at Michigan. That also kept the team out of the Big Ten Championship Game and prevented it from reaching the CFP.
Utah may be a conference champion, but it's going to have trouble trying to slow the Ohio State offense. The Buckeyes are loaded with talent and depth, which is why they're averaging 551.4 total yards per game, the most in the country.
Although the Utes own a pair of impressive wins over Oregon, they never faced an offense as talented as Ohio State's high-powered unit.
Expect the Buckeyes to put up some big numbers and cruise to victory in their final game of the season, with redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud powering them to the win.
Alabama Should Win Big Against Cincinnati in Cotton Bowl
Cincinnati has already made history this season. By going 13-0, it became the first Group of Five team to reach the College Football Playoff, which was implemented for the 2014 season.
The Bearcats' AAC schedule may not have been too difficult, but they proved their worth with a road victory at Notre Dame.
Still, Alabama is going to be an entirely different challenge. The Crimson Tide may have faced more adversity than usual (a loss at Texas A&M on Oct. 9 and some narrow wins), but they're still a top-tier team.
They may also be peaking at the right time, considering they became the first team to beat Georgia this season when they notched a 41-24 victory in the SEC Championship Game.
Alabama rarely struggles in the CFP semifinals, which it has played in six previous times. It has won five of those games, and four of them were by at least 17 points. Last year, the Crimson Tide cruised to a 31-14 victory against Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl.
There will likely be a similar result when Alabama and Cincinnati go head-to-head. The Bearcats have played well, but they're about to run into a Crimson Tide team that is too strong this time of year.
Georgia Will Just Edge Michigan in Orange Bowl
Did Georgia's defense just have a bad day against Alabama in the SEC title game, or were the Bulldogs' stingy defensive numbers more a product of their schedule? They faced some solid teams (Clemson, Arkansas, Kentucky), but they hadn't been tested with a top-tier side until running into the Crimson Tide.
Even if Georgia's defense may not be as dominant as originally expected, it should still be capable of playing well against the Michigan offense in the Orange Bowl. The Wolverines have scored at least 42 points in each of their past three games, but they may have cooled off a bit by the time New Year's Eve arrives.
It's more likely that the Orange Bowl will be a low-scoring matchup with both defenses getting a chance to shine. And because of that, it should be a competitive game that comes down to the final possession.
Although Michigan is the Big Ten champion and has been playing well, Georgia may be a slightly better team. Because of that, the Bulldogs will get just enough offense to allow their defense to make a late stand that will send them into the CFP National Championship Game.