While College Football Playoff expansion might be in the works, this year marks the eighth season of the four-team playoff. This year’s College Football Playoff championship game is Jan. 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The year’s semifinals are Dec. 31 at the Capital One Orange Bowl and Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
Sporting News’ Playoff picks are more of the same. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma have combined for 20 of the 28 total playoff appearances. Yet those four schools have yet to all make the Playoff in the same season.
SN has projections for all 43 bowl games here, and they will be updated throughout the season:
College football bowl predictions 2021
|Dec. 17||Bahamas Bowl||Ball State vs. FAU|
|Dec. 17||Cure Bowl||Arkansas State vs. Tulsa|
|Dec. 18||RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl||UCF vs. Liberty*|
|Dec. 18||New Mexico Bowl||Nevada vs. Marshall|
|Dec. 18||Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl||BYU vs. UTSA|
|Dec. 18||Lendingtree Bowl||Toledo vs. Appalachian State|
|Dec. 18||Los Angeles Bowl||Boise State vs. UCLA|
|Dec. 18||R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl||South Alabama vs. Louisiana Tech|
|Dec. 20||Myrtle Beach Bowl||Georgia State vs. Memphis|
|Dec. 21||Famous Idaho Potato Bowl||Buffalo vs. Colorado State|
|Dec. 21||Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl||Miami, Ohio vs. UAB|
|Dec. 21||Armed Forces Bowl||Army* vs. Western Kentucky|
|Dec. 23||Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl||San Diego State vs. FIU|
|Dec. 24||Hawai’i Bowl||San Jose State vs. SMU|
|Dec. 25||Camellia Bowl||Kent State vs. Louisiana|
|Dec. 27||Quick Lane Bowl||Tulane vs. Michigan State|
|Dec. 27||Military Bowl||Navy vs. Wake Forest|
|Dec. 28||TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl||Houston vs. Tennessee|
|Dec. 28||First Responder Bowl||Baylor vs. Virginia|
|Dec. 28||AutoZone Liberty Bowl||TCU vs. Auburn|
|Dec. 28||Guaranteed Rate Bowl||Maryland vs. Kansas State|
|Dec. 29||Fenway Bowl||Cincinnati vs. Pitt|
|Dec. 29||Pinstripe Bowl||Northwestern vs. Louisville|
|Dec. 29||Cheez-It Bowl||West Virginia vs. Florida State|
|Dec. 29||Valero Alamo Bowl||Oregon vs. Oklahoma State|
|Dec. 30||Duke’s Mayo Bowl||Indiana vs. N.C. State|
|Dec. 30||Transperfect Music City Bowl||Nebraska vs. Kentucky|
|Dec. 30||SRS Las Vegas Bowl||Cal vs. Iowa|
|Dec. 31||TaxSlayer Gator Bowl||Missouri vs. Virginia Tech|
|Dec. 31||Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl||Utah vs. Boston College|
|Jan. 1||Outback Bowl||Michigan vs. LSU|
|Jan. 1||Vrbo Citrus Bowl||Penn State vs. Florida|
|Jan. 4||Texas Bowl||Texas vs. Ole Miss|
|TBD||Holiday Bowl||Arizona State vs. Miami|
|TBD||RedBox Bowl||Washington vs. Minnesota|
|TBD||Arizona Bowl||Ohio vs. Wyoming|
*Denotes not tied to bowl game
College Football New Year’s Six predictions
|Dec. 30||Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl||Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M|
|Jan. 1||PlayStation Fiesta Bowl||Coastal Carolina vs. North Carolina|
|Jan. 1||Rose Bowl Game||USC vs. Wisconsin|
|Jan. 1||Allstate Sugar Bowl||Iowa State vs. Georgia|
|Dec. 31||Capital One Orange Bowl (semifinal)||Ohio State vs. Alabama|
|Dec. 31||Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (semifinal)||Oklahoma vs. Clemson|
College Football Playoff championship prediction
|Jan. 10||College Football Playoff championship||Alabama vs. Clemson|
New Year’s Day Six picks
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M
The Aggies and Irish get to settle last year’s playoff a year too late on a smaller stage. Both teams have quarterback battles worth watching in fall camp, but we’d more interested in the running backs in this one. Isaiah Spiller and Kyren Williams are both dark-horse Heisman candidates. This will be a fun table-setter for the rest of the New Year’s Day Six.
PlayStation First Bowl: Coastal Carolina vs. North Carolina
The Chanticleers are our Group of 5 selection, and some of that is based on Cincinnati’s tough nonconference schedule against Indiana and Notre Dame. The Sun Belt gets their due, and Grayson McCall gets matched up across North Carolina’s Sam Howell, who leads the Tar Heels to their second straight NY6 bowl appearance under Mack Brown.
Rose Bowl Game: USC vs. Wisconsin
USC and Wisconsin met in the Rose Bowl in 1953 and 1963, and this matches up the Pac-12 champion against the Big Ten runner-up. Kedon Slovis and Graham Mertz make it an intriguing matchup, but with these teams is comes down to who can the ball. It will be nice to have the Tournament of Roses Parade back, too.
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Iowa State vs. Georgia
The Bulldogs are forced to settle for a fourth straight New Year’s Day Six Bowl appearance unless JT Daniels can lead a Playoff run. Will that turn up any pressure on Kirby Smart? The Cyclones, meanwhile, are in an all-in year given the number of players who returned from last year’s Fiesta Bowl winner. Given the hype around both teams, this would feel a bit like a consolation game.
College Football Playoff picks
Capital One Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. Alabama
Didn’t we just watch this game? Both programs sent 10 players to the 2021 NFL Draft, but there is more than enough talent on both sides for a third CFP playoff matchup. The Buckeyes are loaded at receiver, and Alabama should be better on defense. What will Ryan Day do differently after last year’s CFP championship game loss?
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Oklahoma vs. Clemson
This would be the more entertaining matchup given it features two of the top three quarterbacks in SN’s Top 25 QB rankings. Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei and Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler would put on an offensive show in this one. Which program faces more pressure? The Sooners are 0-4 in CFP semifinals, and the Tigers have been routed in their last two appearances.
CFP championship pick
CFP championship game: Alabama vs. Clemson
More of the same. Until the CFP expands to 12 teams, this matchup will continue to pop up given the talent level assembled on both sides. The Crimson Tide and Tigers have split four playoff matchups the last seven years, and this time both schools travel north to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. We had Ohio State vs. Clemson in last year’s championship game.