Let’s go bowling: 2021 bowl game projections

Kaitlyn Harmon, Payne Williams, Sports Reporters

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the November 23 Double Coverage flipbook.

With just two weeks left of the college football season, mayhem could be on the horizon with potential upsets in Week 13. While there’s still a few weeks to go until conference championships in early December, the bowl season could go any which way. Bowl game bids will be announced Dec. 5.

Cotton Bowl Classic: Dec. 31, AT&T Stadium, Arlington

Alabama vs. Ohio State

Year after year it seems Alabama finds its way into the College Football Playoff, and this season is no different. Behind Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and a strong SEC defense, the Tide could face C.J. Stroud and Ohio State at the Cotton Bowl. The Buckeyes are coming off a steam-rolling victory over No. 7 Michigan State, and both quarterbacks displayed their full Heisman potential Saturday.

Orange Bowl: Dec. 31, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens

Georgia vs. Cincinnati

In the second of the two College Football Playoff Semifinal games, Georgia and Cincinnati may head to South Beach. This season, Georgia has displayed one of the most dominant defenses in recent memory and will look to contain a dominant and arguably underrated Cincinnati squad. However, don’t expect Georgia to waver in this matchup at Hard Rock Stadium.

Peach Bowl: Dec. 30, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta

Michigan State vs. Notre Dame

While Notre Dame may have a sliver of a chance at the College Football Playoff, the non-Power 5 team may not make the cut. However, the Fighting Irish are a shoo-in for a New Year’s Six bowl game. A matchup between the Spartans and Notre Dame would fare well in Atlanta. Michigan State is coming off a back-breaking loss to Ohio State, virtually killing the Spartans’ playoff chances. However, Michigan State still features one of the best running backs in college football in Kenneth Walker III, posing a possible threat to a Notre Dame defense.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Jan 1, State Farm Stadium, Glendale

Wake Forest vs. BYU

Two offensive powerhouses will meet in another New Year’s Six bowl. BYU, which has hardly been discussed  this season, could face Wake Forest in Glendale, Arizona. The Demon Deacons could pose threats on both sides of the ball for BYU, but Brigham Young’s physicality and size will no doubt make for a good game to ring in the New Year.

Rose Bowl: Jan. 1, Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena

Michigan vs. Oregon

Michigan will travel to the West Coast to the historical Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, to face off against what once was a potential playoff team in Oregon. The Ducks blew their playoff chances Saturday in a blowout loss on the road to Utah, but will likely still see a New Year’s Six bowl. Michigan, which holds just a single loss to Michigan State, will be making its first bowl appearance since 2018.  A win would be a first for the Wolverines since 2016.

Sugar Bowl: Jan. 1, Caesars Superdome, New Orleans
Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss

Ole Miss quarterback and Heisman candidate Matt Corral will face Oklahoma State in one of the best matchups this bowl season. The Pokes feature one of the best defenses in college football, and Corral has the ability to pick apart an Oklahoma State defense. This Big 12 and SEC matchup won’t disappoint.

Liberty Bowl: Dec. 28, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis

Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M

In what will soon be Texas’ biggest SEC rivals, the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas A&M Aggies will face one another in the Liberty Bowl. Sooner quarterback Caleb Williams, who drowned Texas fans’ hopes in the Red River Rivalry, will face a stout A&M defense that displays an impressive resume, including a win over top-ranked Alabama.

Alamo Bowl: Dec. 29, Alamodome, San Antonio

Baylor vs. Utah

Under second-year head coach Dave Aranda, Baylor has had an impressive season and has earned itself bowl eligibility. The Bears will see a Utah team which, while posing an undefeated record at home, has struggled on the road. Both teams will travel to San Antonio where Baylor may see a lofty home crowd just a couple hours from its campus in Waco. The Bears defense could pose a threat to the Utah offense with quarterback Cameron Rising at the helm.

Music City Bowl: Dec. 30, Nissan Stadium, Nashville

Penn State vs. Arkansas

Two teams who began the season on high notes have since had disappointing seasons and will face one another at the Music City Bowl. Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson presents threats both through the air and on the ground, and will give the Nittany Lions defense a handful to deal with in this matchup as both teams look to rectify lackluster seasons. The Razorbacks could also provide a stout defensive showing by a defense that has fared well over the season against opponents like Alabama, holding the Tide offense close over the weekend.

Texas Bowl: Jan. 4, NRG Stadium, Houston

Kansas State vs. Mississippi State

Kansas State and Mississippi State will face off in Houston at NRG Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans, in one of the last bowl games of the season. The Wildcats and the Bulldogs will cap their seasons off at the Texas Bowl, and Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach is sure to give the Wildcat defense a hard time through the air with his well known air-raid offense.