Championship Saturday is here and with the conference title races wrapping up, it’s time to look ahead and make our predictions for College Football Bowl Season.
USC and TCU made things a little more interesting than expected, both losing in their respective conference title games. Southern Cal is expected to fall out of the semifinal picture, but the Horned Frogs should stay in with the stronger resume.
Georgia took care of business against LSU in the SEC Championship Game, moving to 13-0 for the first time in program history, and is the lock for the No. 1 seed coming into Selection Sunday.
What else can we expect as far as the biggest bowl games are concerned? Here’s your look at the latest bowl predictions as we move towards selection.
New Year’s bowl predictions
Rose Bowl: Utah vs. Penn State. After stomping on USC to win the Pac-12 title game, the Utes should head back to Pasadena this postseason, where they lost a thriller to Ohio State a year ago, but this time against a Penn State team that won 10 games, including its final four outings behind an inspired offensive output.
Cotton Bowl: USC vs. Tulane. The new AAC champion Green Wave put on a show offensively to beat UCF for the league crown and draw USC as a result fresh off the Trojans’ poor defensive effort against Utah and now facing questions about quarterback Caleb Williams’ health. His being hobbled doesn’t help USC’s otherwise stellar offense.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Kansas State. The rare non-CFP game for the Tide, which would draw the new Big 12 champion in this one. The two schools have never met before, but the Wildcats boast a dynamic rushing attack behind star back/receiver Deuce Vaughn, whose agility and speed has bedeviled Big 12 defenses for three seasons now.
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Tennessee. We project Clemson will win the ACC Championship Game, booking a date against a Volunteers team that led the nation in offense most of the season and will definitely test the Tigers’ up-and-down secondary. Clemson, in turn, can challenge UT’s shaky defense on its own, setting up what could be a fun shootout.
4. Ohio State. Thanks to USC’s loss in the Pac-12 title game, the Buckeyes should squeak back into the College Football Playoff as the best remaining team to not win (or play for) its league title. And a golden opportunity for Ohio State to redeem itself on a national stage after the loss to Michigan in the finale.
3. TCU. Despite its loss to Kansas State, we project the selection committee will keep the Horned Frogs in the No. 3 position owing to its playing in a conference championship game, something OSU didn’t do, and in an effort to avoid a rematch of the Ohio State-Michigan game in the semifinal.
2.Michigan. The expected Big Ten champion will stay put at No. 2, and should even in the event of a loss to Purdue, owing to the TCU loss and Michigan’s own head-to-head win over Ohio State.
1.Georgia. The reigning SEC champion is a cinch for the top seed in the playoff after a dominant performance against LSU and completing an undefeated season, going 13-0 for the first time ever.
Peach Bowl: Georgia vs. Ohio State. This should be a fun matchup between a Georgia defense that leads the nation in points per game allowed and boasts a sweltering front seven push against an Ohio State passing attack that has some of the premier receiving talent in the country.
Fiesta Bowl: Michigan vs. TCU. This 2 vs. 3 semifinal would bring us a Big Ten vs. Big 12 matchup of two teams that can pack a punch offensively, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Wolverines can match up with the speed of the Horned Frogs’ skill threatens a year after going against Georgia in the playoff. These two schools have never faced off on the same field.
National Championship: Georgia vs. Michigan. A rematch of last season’s CFP Orange Bowl semifinal, and likely with similar results. Michigan is a physical group up front on offense and can get push in the run game, but it still hasn’t played against a unit with the physicality and speed that Georgia stacks up at the line, and the Bulldogs won’t leave the back end open the way Ohio State did.
College Football HQ prediction: Georgia wins the national championship. Make it two straight natties for Kirby Smart and the Dawgs, who will take another step towards unseating Alabama as the kings of the SEC, and of college football.