The long break between Conference Championship weekend and the New Years Six Bowl Games has finally come to an end. We see the first of the major matchups tonight with Tennessee taking on Clemson in the Orange Bowl, in what should be an interesting game for two teams who will look to be in the CFP hunt again next year.
Bowl Season wouldn't be complete without the five of us putting together our predictions on how the biggest games of the year will shake out, so without any further ado, let's get into it.
Orange Bowl: #6 Tennessee vs #7 Clemson (-4.5)
As I previously stated, this matchup should be an interesting one to watch as far as implications for next season goes. Clemson's offense looks to have finally found their stride with Cade Klubnik under center, and with how poorly Tennessee's pass defense has looked all season, the Tigers should be able to move the ball pretty well against the Volunteers.
On the other side of the field, Tennessee's offense will be lead by Joe Milton, who served as a backup this season until Hendon Hooker suffered a torn ACL against South Carolina late in the year. In Milton's lone start this year he completed 11 of 21 passes for 147 yards and 1 Touchdown in a 56-0 win over Vanderbilt. Clemson will trot out a much better defense than he faced against the Commodores, and if he can't dial in his throws, it may be a really long night for the offense.
Evan: Tennessee wins 42-34
Brodie: Tennessee wins 42-28
Andrew: Tennessee wins 41-23
Jordan: Clemson wins 45-28
Jake: Clemson wins 42-24
Sugar Bowl: #9 Kansas State vs #5 Alabama (-6.5)
A few weeks ago, when this matchup was first announced, I thought this may be a game that actually favored Kansas State. A lot of people assumed some major opt-outs for Alabama, but unfortunately for the Wildcats, that did not come to fruition. Bryce Young and Will Anderson Jr. will both be suiting up for the Crimson Tide. With Young in the fold, its hard to not see a lot of points going up for Alabama as they look to take some frustrations out.
Kansas State has been a tough team to figure out this year, beating TCU, but also dropping games to Texas and Tulane. Their rushing attack with Deuce Vaughn could give Alabama some fits on defense and Will Howard has started to find his groove as the starting QB, so we will see how the Wildcats can hold up.
Evan: Alabama wins 34-24
Brodie: Kansas State wins 31-28
Andrew: Alabama wins 38-31
Jordan: Alabama wins 42-17
Jake: Alabama wins 38-24
Cotton Bowl: #16 Tulane vs #10 USC (-2.0)
USC this season has been a bit predictable because they are just Lincoln Riley's Oklahoma teams playing in the Pac-12. He has a lot of the roster and coaching staff from previous years with him in Los Angeles, so this one is simple to break down. The Trojans are going to put up points with Heisman Trophy Winner Caleb Williams, but the defense is suspect as Alex Grinch amazing still has play calling duties for a major program (I can't wrap my head around this). The firepower and pedigree may be too much for Tulane to keep up with.
Tulane comes in as the highest ranked group of five program this season with their most notable win coming against Big 12 Champion Kansas State. They are more than capable of pulling off this upset, as it appears Lincoln Riley has been spending more time tampering with some top players in College Football, instead of putting together a game plan. I will most definitely be rooting for the Green Wave in this one.
Evan: USC wins 42-31
Brodie: USC wins 31-17
Andrew: USC wins 42-17
Jordan: USC wins 42-17
Jake: USC wins 45-34
Rose Bowl: #11 Penn State vs #8 Utah (-2.5)
The Utes find themselves in their 2nd Rose Bowl in as many seasons, and I will say, they have a special place in the hearts of the Buckeye faithful. Their dominant win over USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game helped propel Ohio State into the fourth spot of the CFP. With the 12-team playoff coming in a couple seasons, this is the type of team no one will want to play. Utah's physicality and discipline always ends up coming through in a big way towards the end of the season, and this year is no different.
Penn State has had a pretty good year as they come into this one with a 10-2 record with their only losses coming to Michigan and Ohio State. Sean Clifford is looking to cap off his seemingly 20-year career with the Nittany Lions with a Rose Bowl win, something the program has only done once in its distinguished history. Penn State will look to use this game as a spring board towards the 2023 season, as they return a lot of production on both sides of the football and return their most complete squad since 2017. A lot of people would like to see former 5-Star QB Drew Allar under center, but I wouldn't bet on it. This will be Clifford's curtain call.
Evan: Utah wins 38-31
Brodie: Utah wins 27-21
Andrew: Utah wins 34-31
Jordan: Utah wins 52-21
Jake: Penn State wins 31-27
Fiesta Bowl (CFP Semifinal): #3 TCU vs #2 Michigan (-7.5)
TCU has been flirting with disaster for most of the season, and it finally caught up to them when they played Kansas State in the XII Championship Game a few weeks ago. Max Duggan is an absolute gamer and will put his body on the line to win the game for his team. Will the loss to Kansas State free the Horned Frogs from the pressure of going unbeaten, or did the Wildcats expose bigger issues for TCU?
Michigan's biggest advantage in this game is no different than any other, its their dominance on the Line Of Scrimmage. The Wolverines are much different than any team TCU has played all season, and they will look to shell-shock the 3-3-5 defense with a heavy dose of Donovan Edwards and their explosive running attack. JJ McCarthy has really started to come into his own over the last few games of the season, and he will look to continue that as Michigan tries to get to their first official National Championship Game in program history.
Evan: Michigan wins 45-24
Brodie: Michigan wins 31-21
Andrew: Michigan wins 24-17
Jordan: Michigan wins 35-28
Jake: Michigan wins 38-24
Peach Bowl (CFP Semifinal): #4 Ohio State vs #1 UGA (-6.5)
The Bulldogs don't need much of an introduction. We know what they're about. They are going to try and establish the Line Of Scrimmage and overwhelm you on the defensive side of the football. Their offense features Heisman Finalist QB Stetson Bennett, as well as the best Tight End duo in college football with Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington. They are the Defending National Champions and #1 Seed for a reason.
Ohio State is looking for redemption as their season finale ended in failure, as we saw the Wolverines claim a win for the second year in a row. How does one fix all that? By beating Georgia and getting another crack at the Wolverines in the National Championship. The Buckeyes are coming into this game without fear and ready to throw the kitchen sink at the Bulldogs. A more vertical passing attack and consistent interior run game is the recipe for success. Ohio State is 89-0 since 2014 when scoring 30+ points in a game, so the plan is simple, stress that secondary and get some points on the board when you're in the red zone. It is time to see what this team is made of.
Evan: Georgia wins 31-30
Brodie: Georgia wins 38-24
Andrew: Ohio State wins 35-24
Jordan: Ohio State wins 38-28
Jake: Ohio State wins 37-34