With the 2022 college football season racing towards an exciting and unpredictable conclusion, the projections for bowl season are becoming more realistic. Next week, another 18 teams can clinch bowl eligibility. For now, however, this is how we see the postseason shaping up, and there are many mouthwatering matchups to savor.
2022 College Football Bowl Projections | New Year’s Six
Our 2022 CFB bowl projections are comprised of a combination of our own College Football Top 25, and the teams that fall outside of those are selected based on their current standing within their respective conferences.
If you don’t see your favorite team here, there’s a solid chance that they’re not going bowling in 2022. Let’s kick off with the Crown Jewels of CFB bowl season, the College Football Playoff and other New Year’s Six games.
Peach Bowl (College Football Playoff) | No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 TCU
In our latest College Football Top 25, TCU lands as the fourth-ranked team. However, in the interests of separating the two Big Ten teams for these bowl projections, the Horned Frogs hop up to the third spot to secure a Peach Bowl berth and land the Big 12 conference in the College Football Playoff.
Although our CFP rankings prediction sees Sonny Dykes’ team remain at the fourth spot they’ve earned with their undefeated run through college football Week 11, there is a legitimate argument for them being higher. TCU’s 17-10 win over a nationally-ranked Texas team gives them a stronger strength of schedule than Michigan, and a strong defensive performance against the Longhorns helped mitigate some of the committee’s concerns.
No manipulation required for Ohio State as they returned to their offensively dominant best against Nebraska, locking down the second spot in our top 25. After several shaky weeks, C.J. Stroud reasserted himself as a Heisman Trophy contender and NFL draft frontrunner. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes’ ground game was electric and their defense dynamic, as they gave the Indiana Hoosiers a 56-14 hammering.
Although these projections for the 2022 college football bowl season only aim to forecast future fixtures, predicting what could happen is equally fun. While the TCU defense held a dangerous Texas offense to just 10 points, the Buckeyes are a much different proposition. With their improved defensive unit this season, it’s hard to see anything other than Ohio State reaching the CFB National Championship from this matchup.
Fiesta Bowl (College Football Playoff) | No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Michigan
With Michigan relegated to the fourth spot in these bowl projections, it sets ups a tasty repeat of last season’s Orange Bowl. Although the College Football Playoff semifinal location changes this season, is there any reason to suspect a different result than Georgia’s dominant 34-11 win that catapulted them to a national title?
Let’s start with the protagonists. The Bulldogs locked down the No. 1 spot in our College Football Top 25 after comfortably sweeping aside Mississippi State in a hostile Starkville environment on Saturday evening. Stetson Bennett continues to lead this offense at an impressive clip, continuing to average over 40 points per game, thanks to their 45-19 win over the other SEC Bulldogs.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines continued their relentless dominance over Big Ten opposition with a comfortable 34-3 win over Nebraska. Blake Corum rushed for over 100 yards for the seventh consecutive game and should be considered a legitimate Heisman contender. Michigan is a standard-setter in the trenches, with a repeat Joe Moore Award not out of the question for the maize and blue wall that is their offensive line.
Both teams have been imperious in their own way, so who emerges victorious in their Fiesta Bowl clash? It’s difficult to look past a Georgia team whose defense has allowed just three rushing touchdowns all season. While they haven’t faced an offensive line/running back combo quite like the one the Wolverines bring to the table, the Bulldogs have the potential to bottle Corum up in a way we simply haven’t seen yet this season.
Rose Bowl | USC vs. Penn State
The Ohio State vs. Michigan matchup in college football Week 13 will potentially shape who takes the Big Ten’s place in the conference’s annual date with the Pac-12 in Pasadena. However, with both teams contesting the College Football Playoff in these bowl projections, Penn State heads to the Rose Bowl as the highest-ranked Big Ten team in our top 25 rankings.
The Nittany Lions swept aside Maryland 30-0 on the back of a record-setting performance from true freshman running back Nicholas Singleton. Channeling his inner Saquon Barkley — whose record Singleton smashed through on Saturday — the young Lion flashed both physicality and electric playmaking ability, as he helped Penn State to an eighth win of the season.
That could prove a substantial problem for a USC team that has developed a significant pass-rush presence in the form of Tuli Tuipulotu but has a middling run defense compared to the rest of their conference. The Trojans have given up 19 rushing touchdowns while allowing 141.5 yards per game on the ground. Colorado RB Alex Fontenot recorded his first 100+ rushing yard performance in almost two years against USC in week 11.
Despite those run-game frailties, the Trojans have been offensively electric behind Caleb Williams, a plethora of pass catchers, and the play-calling of Lincoln Riley, which has allowed them to emerge as the favorite for the Pac-12 Championship. If USC can win out, a College Football Playoff berth may beckon, but we know that the conference can’t have nice things.
Cotton Bowl | Coastal Carolina vs. Alabama
Although the Chanticleers weren’t ranked by the CFP Selection Committee, their 9-1 campaign is given the respect it deserves as the top-ranked Group of Five team in our latest top 25. Their reward is a trip to the Cotton Bowl, where hopefully, they’ll return the mulleted magician, quarterback Grayson McCall.
A strong ground game could cause fits for their opponent in our 2022 college football bowl projections.
Alabama’s win over Ole Miss in Week 11 ensures a return to the New Year’s Six for the Crimson Tide. However, it’s a far cry from the success that they’re used to. The Rebels’ ground game continuously found holes in Alabama’s run defense, and the result could have been very different if not for Bryce Young.
While the potential QB1 of the 2023 NFL Draft class likely wouldn’t play in the Cotton Bowl, it’d be a fun matchup against a Chants pass defense that has allowed the most yardage per game in the Sun Belt.
Sugar Bowl | Kansas State vs. Tennessee
The Sugar Bowl has been one of the more fun CFB bowl games to predict in these projections. Multiple teams have held the Big 12’s spot in their marquee bowl game as the season has ebbed and flowed. With champion TCU headed to the College Football Playoff, the next highest-ranked team following Week 11 is the Kansas State Wildcats.
Chris Klieman’s team brutalized Baylor to take sole possession of second place in the conference. Deuce Vaughn tallied over 100 rushing yards for the sixth time this season, as he establishes himself as one of the best all-purpose weapons in the nation.
Meanwhile, Will Howard and Adrian Martinez are an unexpected QB duo that can test any defense. Howard unleashed a magnificent tight window touchdown in the 31-3 win over the Bears.
They take on the Tennessee Volunteers in our college football bowl projections. Josh Heupel’s team bounced back from their Georgia disappointment to pull away from a stubborn Missouri team and keep the pressure on the “final four” in the CFP rankings. However, they’re the first team to miss out on the playoff in our latest top 25.
The No. 1 scoring offense in the nation taking on a top-15 scoring defense should make for a sensational Sugar Bowl.
Orange Bowl | North Carolina vs. LSU
Although Clemson effortlessly lifted themselves past Louisville in college football Week 11, we’re still projecting the Tigers to finish as the ACC’s runner-up. Their 9-1 overall record and undefeated conference record matches North Carolina, but right now, you’d bet on Drake Maye to lead the Tar Heels in a shootout over the Tigers in the ACC Championship. The two teams have a dress rehearsal in the final week of the season.
Maye has been majestic in his first season as the starter, buoyed by a dynamic relationship with the presumably NFL-bound Josh Downs. The Tar Heels offense can go toe-to-toe with almost anyone in the nation. Their defense, on the other hand, has been particularly porous, making this Orange Bowl matchup with LSU in our bowl projections particularly enticing.
Since succumbing to FSU on opening weekend, LSU has gone from strength to strength. Their gritty win over Arkansas, combined with the Ole Miss loss to Alabama, guarantees them a spot in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. Jayden Daniels’ dual-threat ability should test the Tar Heels’ defense in this tussle.
Meanwhile, Harold Perkins Jr.’s emergence as one of the best young defensive players in the nation will ensure that Maye has to be at the top of his game. The Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl matchups in our college football bowl projections might well be the most exciting games of the entire 2022 postseason.
Projections for the Remaining 2022 College Football Bowl Games
Illinois vs. Ole Miss
Kentucky vs. Iowa
Music City Bowl
Minnesota vs. Mississippi State
Toledo vs. San Diego State
Clemson vs. Florida
Duke vs. Oregon
Duke’s Mayo Bowl
Syracuse vs. Maryland
Oklahoma State vs. Washington
Notre Dame vs. Baylor
Duke vs. Michigan State
Texas vs. Arkansas
Florida State vs. Utah
Texas Tech vs. South Carolina
Pittsburgh vs. SMU
Guaranteed Rate Bowl
Kansas vs. Purdue
Tulane vs. Miami (FL)
First Responder Bowl
NC State vs. Fresno State
Marshall vs. Ball State
Quick Lane Bowl
Wake Forest vs. Bowling Green
BYU vs. Utah State
UCF vs. Oregon State
Western Kentucky vs. UConn
Armed Forces Bowl
UAB vs. Memphis
New Orleans Bowl
Coastal Carolina vs. Florida Atlantic
Boca Raton Bowl
North Texas vs. Troy
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Eastern Michigan vs. Air Force
Myrtle Beach Bowl
Liberty vs. Houston
UTSA vs. Wyoming
Las Vegas Bowl
UCLA vs. Wisconsin
Lending Tree Bowl
Kent State vs. Appalachian State
Boise State vs. Washington State
New Mexico Bowl
Georgia Southern vs. San Jose State
North Carolina Central vs. Jackson State
Louisville vs. East Carolina
South Alabama vs. Ohio
Rice vs. Buffalo
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