Bowl Games 2021-22: Schedule and Winning Predictions for College Football Slate

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIDecember 12, 2021

Bowl Games 2021-22: Schedule and Winning Predictions for College Football Slate

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    While only four college football teams have a chance to capture the national championship during bowl season, plenty of others get an opportunity to end the year with a bowl win. This season, there are 43 bowls taking place, which include the three that comprise the College Football Playoff.

    The Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl are the two games serving as CFP semifinals this season. With the high stakes and the top teams taking part (Alabama vs. Cincinnati, Michigan vs. Georgia), they could be among the best matchups of bowl season.

    But there are plenty of bowl games outside of the CFP and New Year's Six matchups that could provide excitement over the next few weeks. The action begins on Friday, which is when both the Bahamas Bowl and Cure Bowl are taking place.

    Here's the full schedule for bowl season, along with predictions for each game and a closer look at some non-New Year's Six matchups that could be entertaining to watch.

Complete Bowl Schedule, Predictions

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    Friday, Dec. 17

    Bahamas Bowl: Middle Tennessee State vs. Toledo, noon ET, ESPN

    Cure Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Coastal Carolina, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2

    Saturday, Dec. 18

    Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State, 11 a.m. ET, ESPN

    New Mexico Bowl: UTEP vs. Fresno State, 2:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Independence Bowl: No. 13 BYU vs. UAB, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

    LendingTree Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. Liberty, 5:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

    LA Bowl: Utah State vs. Oregon State, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

    New Orleans Bowl: No. 23 Louisiana vs. Marshall, 9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Monday, Dec. 20

    Myrtle Beach Bowl: Old Dominion vs. Tulsa, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Tuesday, Dec. 21

    Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Kent State vs. Wyoming, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Frisco Bowl: No. 24 San Diego State vs. UTSA, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Wednesday, Dec. 22

    Armed Forces Bowl: Missouri vs. Army, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Thursday, Dec. 23

    Frisco Football Classic: North Texas vs. Miami (Ohio), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Gasparilla Bowl: UCF vs. Florida, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Friday, Dec. 24

    Hawai'i Bowl: Memphis vs. Hawai'i, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Saturday, Dec. 25

    Camellia Bowl: Georgia State vs. Ball State, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Monday, Dec. 27

    Quick Lane Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Nevada, 11 a.m. ET, ESPN

    Military Bowl: Boston College vs. East Carolina, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Tuesday, Dec. 28

    Birmingham Bowl: No. 20 Houston vs. Auburn, noon ET, ESPN

    First Responder Bowl: Air Force vs. Louisville, 3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Texas Tech, 6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Holiday Bowl: No. 18 NC State vs. UCLA, 8 p.m. ET, Fox

    Guaranteed Rate Bowl: West Virginia vs. Minnesota, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Wednesday, Dec. 29

    Fenway Bowl: SMU vs. Virginia, 11 a.m. ET, ESPN

    Pinstripe Bowl: Maryland vs. Virginia Tech, 2:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

    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

    Duke's Mayo Bowl: North Carolina vs. South Carolina, 11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN

    Music City Bowl: Tennessee vs. Purdue, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Peach Bowl: No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Las Vegas Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Arizona State, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Friday, Dec. 31

    Gator Bowl: No. 17 Wake Forest vs. No. 25 Texas A&M, 11 a.m. ET, ESPN

    Sun Bowl: Washington State vs. Miami, noon ET, CBS

    Arizona Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Boise State, 2 p.m. ET,

    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

    Tuesday, Jan. 4

    Texas Bowl: LSU vs. Kansas State, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Monday, Jan. 10

    College Football Playoff National Championship Game, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

    Picks in bold.

Frisco Bowl: No. 24 San Diego State vs. UTSA

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    Marco Garcia/Associated Press

    UTSA has already made history this season by winning the first conference championship in program history by defeating Western Kentucky for the Conference USA title. Now, the Roadrunners will have the opportunity to win a bowl game for the first time.

    However, if UTSA hopes to secure a victory in its third bowl appearance, it will need to knock off San Diego State, which is 11-2 after losing to Utah State in the Mountain West Championship Game, in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 21. But the Roadrunners may have an offense talented enough to beat the Aztecs.

    While going 12-1, UTSA has averaged 37.8 points and 442.9 total yards per game. But San Diego State will be one of its most challenging opponents yet, so this has the potential to be a competitive game.

    UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor has taken the Roadrunners to new heights in his second season as their head coach. And if they can notch a bowl victory, it will be an impressive finish to a stellar year.

Holiday Bowl: No. 18 NC State vs. UCLA

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    There could be plenty of offense during the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28, as NC State and UCLA have both put up some impressive numbers throughout the 2021 season. It should also be a competitive matchup between a pair of Power Five teams that have been tested by numerous challenging opponents.

    NC State is 9-3 after notching back-to-back wins over Syracuse and North Carolina to end the regular season. The Wolfpack are averaging 33.1 points and 414.6 total yards per game, with redshirt sophomore quarterback Devin Leary (3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns and five interceptions) leading the offense.

    UCLA went on a three-game winning streak to end the regular season, scoring at least 42 points in each of those victories to finish at 8-4. The Bruins are averaging 36.7 points and 441.3 total yards per game, as senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has impressed as a two-way threat. He's thrown for 2,409 yards and 21 touchdowns while also rushing for 609 yards and nine scores.

    This matchup could go either way. But no matter which team wins, this game could turn into an offensive shootout with NC State and UCLA trading blows back and forth.

Cheez-It Bowl: No. 19 Clemson vs. Iowa State

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    Sean Rayford/Associated Press

    Clemson is typically preparing for the College Football Playoff this time of year, and that was the Tigers' goal heading into the 2021 season. Instead, they'll be playing in the Cheez-It Bowl on Dec. 29, marking the first time they're not playing in the CFP since 2014, which was the first year of the Playoff format.

    Although Clemson didn't live up to expectations, it still went 9-3 in the regular season and won its last five games. So the Tigers can still reach double-digit victories for the 11th consecutive season if they can end the year with a win over Iowa State.

    The Cyclones are another team that underperformed, as they entered the year with hopes of winning the Big 12 title and instead ended up 7-5. However, they have one of the best running backs in the country in junior Breece Hall, who has rushed for 1,472 yards and scored 23 total touchdowns.

    While Clemson is most likely going to win, Hall could keep Iowa State in the game and make things exciting. That's why this is matchup has the potential to deliver a thrilling contest this bowl season.