College Football Bowl Projections Week 8: Georgia, Oklahoma meet in final

As we head through the halfway point of the 2021 regular season, let's take a look at the early college football bowl projections.

Heading into the halfway point of the 2021 college football regular season, let’s take a look at the latest college football bowl projections! Who should we expect to be included in the postseason, and who might those teams draw in their closing matchups?

College Football Bowl Projections | Week 8

Even now, it’s still too early to have a firm grasp on how accurate the 2021 college football bowl projections will be. Most teams have played 6-7 games at this point. That still leaves room for 1-win and 2-win teams to potentially embark on strong season-ending runs. We’ve seen it happen before. As we all know, college football can be crazy like that.

Nevertheless, while things are still in flux, a rough pecking order has been established to this point. It’s something we can work with as we put together our early college football bowl projections. Having said that, let’s get into our early projections — starting with the December games.

Most of the conference inclusions are determined by bowl-specific tie-ins for the Power Five conferences, as well as the AAC, Sun Belt, MAC, Mountain West, and Conference USA. When not enough teams from a specific conference qualify, however, then the available slot is filled by an opponent from the pool of remaining bowl qualifiers.

College Football Bowl Projections | December games

Bahamas Bowl: Marshall vs. Kent State
Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. East Carolina
Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. San Jose State
New Mexico Bowl: UAB vs. Boise State
Independence Bowl: BYU vs. Army
Lending Tree Bowl: Central Michigan vs. South Alabama
Los Angeles Bowl: Utah State vs. USC
New Orleans Bowl: Charlotte vs. Louisiana
Myrtle Beach Bowl: Troy vs. Wyoming
Idaho Potato Bowl: Ball State vs. Fresno State

Frisco Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Florida Atlantic
Armed Forces Bowl: Memphis vs. Buffalo
Gasparilla Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Toledo
Hawaii Bowl: Nevada vs. UTEP
Camellia Bowl: Miami (OH) vs. Hawaii
Quick Lane Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. UCF
Military Bowl: Louisville vs. Tulsa
Birmingham Bowl: Air Force vs. Mississippi State
First Responder Bowl: North Carolina vs. UTSA
Liberty Bowl: South Carolina vs. TCU

Holiday Bowl: Oregon State vs. Houston
Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Iowa State vs. Coastal Carolina
Fenway Bowl: Boston College vs. SMU
Pinstripe Bowl: Virginia vs. Notre Dame
Cheez-It Bowl: Clemson vs. Texas Tech
Alamo Bowl: Texas vs. Utah
Duke’s Mayo Bowl: NC State vs. Wisconsin
Music City Bowl: Minnesota vs. Florida
Las Vegas Bowl: Maryland vs. UCLA
Gator Bowl: Purdue vs. Tennessee

Sun Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Arizona State
Arizona Bowl: San Diego State vs. Western Michigan
Outback Bowl: Penn State vs. Arkansas
Citrus Bowl: Michigan State vs. Auburn
Texas Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Baylor

College Football’s New Year’s Six and playoff projections

Now, let’s move on to the famous New Year’s Six — a collection of high-profile bowl games that includes the Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Orange Bowl, and the Cotton Bowl.

The first four bowl games are all standard bowl events, while the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl constitute the semifinal round of the College Football Playoff. Traditionally, the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl are both played between at-large teams in the NCAA. The Rose Bowl, meanwhile, is played between two of the top teams in the Big Ten and Pac-12 (if neither team makes the playoffs).

The Sugar Bowl accounts for two more Power Five conferences — the SEC and the Big 12. As with the Rose Bowl, it is inferred that both teams in the Sugar Bowl failed to meet the criteria for a playoff spot but were still able to earn a New Year’s bowl. Now, let’s look at our current college football bowl projections for New Year’s Day.

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Oklahoma State

Rose Bowl: Michigan vs. Oregon

Fiesta Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Iowa

Peach Bowl: Kentucky vs. Pittsburgh

Orange Bowl: Georgia vs. Cincinnati

Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Ohio State

Analyzing the New Year’s bowl projections

The New Year’s bowl games rarely disappoint, but some of these matchups aren’t quite as compelling on the surface. While Alabama is an SEC Championship Game loss away from missing the playoffs, they’ve still been one of college football’s best, most well-rounded teams over the course of the regular season. And although Oklahoma State is coming off a win against Texas, they don’t have the firepower to hold with Alabama.

Moving down the board, Iowa seems to be a step below Ole Miss. The defense is elite, but offensively, the Hawkeyes may find themselves falling a step behind if Matt Corral is on his game.

The Orange Bowl, meanwhile, is different. In the sense that Cincinnati may not pose enough of a threat to beat the vaunted Georgia defense.

The winners of the Orange Bowl and the Cotton Bowl will ultimately advance to the National Championship, which will be played on January 10.

2022 National Championship projection

As of now, it appears as though the current bowl projections for the College Football Playoff include Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Cincinnati. Alabama may be ranked ahead of Ohio State on our Top 25 College Football Rankings, but Alabama has one pressing test on the horizon: Georgia.

As long as Alabama wins out in the regular season, they’ll face Georgia in the SEC Championship. If they lose, it’s unlikely that a two-loss Alabama team makes the playoffs. Meanwhile, Ohio State should face one of either Iowa or Purdue in the Big Ten title game. Both matchups are more favorable than Alabama’s against Georgia.

If Alabama loses to Georgia, then the playoff matchups would likely be Georgia vs. Cincinnati and Oklahoma vs. Ohio State. Georgia should be an easy favorite over the Bearcats. That’s less of a slight to Cincinnati and more of an acknowledgment that Georgia’s defense has dominated SEC competition all year. All Stetson Bennett has to do is be a decent quarterback, and the Bulldogs can reach the pinnacle.

Ohio State-Oklahoma is a tougher matchup to gauge. Both teams are stronger offensively, so it may come down to quarterback play. Ohio State’s offense looks better on paper, but Caleb Williams is a man on a mission for the Sooners. This one looks like a coin flip, but give me Oklahoma for now.

National Championship projection: Georgia vs. Oklahoma

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and his voice and face on Pro Football Network Daily. Follow him on Twitter @ian_cummings_9.

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