Bowl Games 2021-22: Full Schedule and Predictions for College Football Playoff
With the 2021-22 bowl season starting to wrap up, most eyes are set on the College Football Playoff (CFP), which will begin Friday.
It's been an odd bowl season, to say the least, with cancellations and replacements drawing nearly as many headlines as the matchups themselves. On Wednesday, for example, the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl was officially canceled following UCLA's Tuesday withdrawal over COVID-19 concerns.
N.C. State tried to find a replacement and reschedule but could not.
"There's teams that are 5-7 that stopped playing Thanksgiving weekend, and other teams that let their players go home, and their staff was gone," N.C. State athletics director Boo Corrigan said, per Andrea Adelson of ESPN. "It's not like there's 10 teams waiting."
The rest of the college football world marches on, though, and fans will be treated to four more non-playoff bowl games on Thursday and two on Friday. Then, of course, the CFP final four will be in action.
Here, we'll dive into the remaining bowl schedule and examine the CFP race. A complete schedule listing every upcoming game and broadcast information can be found at NCAA.com. Here, you'll find a look at the schedule with odds and predicted winners in bold.
Non-CFB Bowl Schedule, Odds, Predictions
Thursday, December 30
Duke's Mayo Bowl: North Carolina (-9.5) vs. South Carolina
Music City Bowl: Tennessee (-6) vs. Purdue
Peach Bowl: No. 11 Michigan State (-3) vs. No. 13 Pittsburgh
Las Vegas Bowl: Wisconsin (-6) vs. Arizona State
Friday, December 31
Gator Bowl: No. 20 Wake Forest (-14.5) vs. Rutgers
Sun Bowl: Washington State (-7.5) vs. Central Michigan
Saturday, January 1
Outback Bowl: No. 22 Arkansas (-1) vs. Penn State
Citrus Bowl: No. 17 Iowa (+3) vs. No. 25 Kentucky
Fiesta Bowl: No. 5 Notre Dame (-2.5) vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State
Rose Bowl: No. 7 Ohio State (-4) vs. No. 10 Utah
Sugar Bowl: No. 6 Baylor (+1) vs. No. 8 Ole Miss
Tuesday, January 4
Texas Bowl: Kansas State (+3.5) vs. LSU
College Football Playoff
Friday, December 31
Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 1 Alabama (-13.5) vs. No. 4 Cincinnati
Orange Bowl: No. 2 Michigan (+7.5) vs. No. 3 Georgia
Monday, January 10
College Football Playoff National Championship Game
This year's College Football Playoff is quite a bit different than recent incarnations. For the first time in the CFB era, we have a true Cinderella story in the final four. The Cincinnati Bearcats have emerged from the AAC to dance with the big boys from the Power Five.
While the Bearcats have never been on the CFP slate, this experience isn't entirely foreign to them. Last year, Cincinnati had a long layoff before playing Georgia in the Peach Bowl on January 1. They lost to the ninth-ranked Bulldogs but by only a field goal.
Viewing the Cincinnati-Alabama game as a clear mismatch would be a mistake.
"We have really, really good players here. And I feel that will be showcased during the game and then showcased during the NFL draft," Bearcats linebacker Darrian Beavers said, per Justin Williams of The Athletic.
It's hard to pick Cincinnati against Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide—who have "been there, done that" as much as any team in college football—but the game should be closer than a lot of folks expect. Cincinnati is a fast, physical team with a quarterback in Desmond Ridder who can go throw-for-throw with Heisman-winner Bryce Young.
Would a Cincinnati victory in the Cotton Bowl represent a monumental upset? Sure, but it's not entirely out of the question.
In the Orange Bowl, we'll be treated to a showdown between Georgia and Michigan, two programs with far less CFP experience than Alabama. This marks the second appearance for Georgia and the first for Michigan.
Both Georgia and Michigan are capable of going all the way this year, though. They have two losses between them—the Bulldogs' to Alabama and the Wolverines' to Michigan State.
Michigan has the momentum heading into the matchup, however. Alabama exposed Georgia's defense in the SEC title game, winning a 41-24 battle. The Wolverines haven't lost since October and are coming off of back-to-back blowout wins over ranked opponents.
Michigan beat Ohio State and Iowa by a combined 84-30 score. Jim Harbaugh has finally forged a title contender in Ann Arbor, and I'd expect to see a champion's effort in an upset over Georgia.
All odds via DraftKings.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or call or text the TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN).
21+. NJ/PA/WV/IN/IA/CO/IL/TN only. In partnership with Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.