With every passing week in the 2021 college football regular season, the year’s bowl participants become easier and easier to identify. With another week in the books, several more teams have reached bowl eligibility. But the clock is ticking for many more to hit six wins. While things are still in flux, let’s take a look at our college football bowl projections as we head into Week 9.
College Football Bowl Projections | Week 9
Much like mock drafts, part of the fun of college football bowl projections is to examine different possibilities. While some teams have easier schedules than others to close out the year, the potential end-game matchups are plentiful.
By now, we’re starting to get an idea of which teams will become bowl eligible within the respective conferences. However, there’s still time for an underwhelming squad to make a late-season push. Some teams may linger under .500 until the very end of the regular season. Others may near the mark, only to sputter and sink to the bottom in December.
On one hand, it may seem futile to analyze college football bowl projections this far out. Nevertheless, it’s nice to look at the potential battles that will grace the television this winter. Thus, let’s take a look at the latest college football bowl projections for 2021, starting with the December games.
Each bowl’s respective conference tie-in decides most team matchups. Some bowls, however, simply select from the pool of eligible teams. These projections were made with those tie-ins and pre-requisites in mind.
College Football Bowl Projections | December games
Bahamas Bowl: Charlotte vs. Ball State
Cure Bowl: Tulsa vs. Syracuse
Boca Raton Bowl: Boise State vs. Miami-OH
New Mexico Bowl: Air Force vs. UAB
Independence Bowl: Army vs. Western Kentucky
Lending Tree Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Los Angeles Bowl: Washington vs. Fresno State
New Orleans Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Florida Atlantic
Myrtle Beach Bowl: Buffalo vs. San Jose State
Idaho Potato Bowl: Utah State vs. Eastern Michigan
Frisco Bowl: Toledo vs. South Alabama
Armed Forces Bowl: UCF vs. BYU
Gasparilla Bowl: LSU vs. Liberty
Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii vs. UTEP
Camellia Bowl: Marshall vs. Kent State
Quick Lane Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Memphis
Military Bowl: Florida State vs. Houston
Birmingham Bowl: South Carolina vs. Louisiana
First Responder Bowl: North Carolina vs. Coastal Carolina
Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Kansas State
Holiday Bowl: Utah vs. Nevada
Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Texas Tech vs. UTSA
Fenway Bowl: Louisville vs. SMU
Pinstripe Bowl: Clemson vs. Notre Dame
Cheez-It Bowl: NC State vs. Texas
Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. UCLA
Duke’s Mayo Bowl: Virginia vs. Maryland
Music City Bowl: Purdue vs. Tennessee
Las Vegas Bowl: Minnesota vs. Oregon State
Gator Bowl: Penn State vs. Florida
Sun Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Arizona State
Arizona Bowl: San Diego State vs. Northern Illinois
Outback Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Arkansas
Citrus Bowl: Michigan State vs. Auburn
Texas Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Iowa State
College Football’s New Year’s Six and playoff projections
There are some fun matchups in the December group. LSU vs. Liberty has the potential to be an exciting spectacle for Malik Willis, whose NFL Draft stock would depend heavily on such a game. Fringe teams like Tulsa, Boise State, Washington, and Syracuse also make the cut. However, most of the buzz will build around the New Year’s Six.
The New Year’s Six consists of the Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Cotton Bowl. Traditionally, the Sugar Bowl is played between the Big 12 and the SEC. The Rose Bowl is played between the Big Ten and the Pac-12. The Fiesta Bowl is played between the SEC and the Big Ten. And the Peach Bowl is played between the SEC and the ACC.
The Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl are reserved for the playoff contenders. According to these college football bowl projections, the playoffs could house one team from the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, and American conference each. Here’s a look at the New Year’s matchups.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Baylor
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
There’s only one change in the New Year’s bowl projections from our previous projections provided last weekend. That change occurs in the Sugar Bowl. Previously, Alabama had been pitted against Oklahoma State. But in light of the Cowboys’ loss to Iowa State, the Crimson Tide are now pitted against Baylor.
Oklahoma State could still ultimately take this position, as they have the tiebreaker win over Baylor. However, both teams still have to play Oklahoma. Outside of that game, neither has an opponent they can look past. Kansas might’ve been such a team for Oklahoma State before, but they gave Oklahoma a fight this past week.
Looking at Baylor and Oklahoma State side by side, both teams have strong rushing attacks. Baylor’s offensive line, however, might be better than the Cowboys’. Both teams have solid defenses as well, but the Bears are visibly stronger in terms of next-level talent. Although their quarterback position is one of the weaker ones in the Big 12, Baylor has the talent to surprise people and ultimately reach the New Year’s Six.
2022 National Championship projection
Like last week, our projected playoff contenders are Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Cincinnati. This, of course, assumes that Georgia and Alabama will play in the SEC Championship — and that Georgia will win. The opposite is just as likely, but right now, Georgia’s undefeated record gives them the edge from a projection standpoint. The same goes for Oklahoma and Cincinnati.
Ohio State, meanwhile, has a chance to come away with the Big Ten. Michigan and Michigan State serve as the Buckeyes’ chief competitors, but Ohio State’s offense has the most firepower in the conference.
Like last week, our projected first-round matchups are Georgia vs. Cincinnati and Ohio State vs. Oklahoma. Both Oklahoma and Cincinnati underwhelmed in Week 7 wins against Kansas and Navy, respectively. Georgia was on a bye, while Ohio State decimated Indiana 54-7.
These results reaffirm our previous projection, which has Georgia and Ohio State meeting in the National Championship Game to decide once and for all who takes the 2021 crown.