By Cole Frederick
Friday, Jan. 1
Vrbo Citrus Bowl
Auburn vs. Northwestern (-3.5). New head coach Bryan Harsin won’t take over for the bowl game, but he has been monitoring practices and making initial observations. Kevin Steele is the interim coach, and he’s tasked with preparing for a very good Northwestern team that played in the Big 12 title game. The Tigers played Northwestern in a bowl game 11 years ago and won 38-35 in Gene Chizik’s first year. Prediction: Northwestern 27, Auburn 24.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Georgia vs. Cincinnati (+7). The first half of the season was plagued by offensive woes for the Bulldogs, but when Kirby Smart pivoted to JT Daniels at quarterback, the offense started to click. Now, the offseason will be full of what-ifs, but they can at least end the year on a positive note with a win over a quality Cincinnati team. Prediction: Georgia 41, Cincinnati 20.
College Football Playoffs
Rose Bowl Game
Presented by Capital One
Notre Dame vs. Alabama (-19.5). Irish fans certainly remember what happened the last time these two historic teams played on the national stage. Alabama rolled Notre Dame 42-14 in the national title game for the 2012 season, and the game was over in the first quarter. This Alabama team might be even better than that group, and so is this Notre Dame squad. The Tide have three players who will finish in the top 5 of the Heisman voting, including Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris. Notre Dame should be able to score on the Alabama defense, but they won’t be able to keep pace with the Tide for four quarters. Prediction: Alabama 45, Notre Dame 27.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Ohio State vs. Clemson (-7.5). While it certainly feels like college football is on a collision course for a Clemson vs. Alabama national title game rematch, Ohio State has the talent to beat the Tigers in New Orleans. Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields are projected to be the top two picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, and their offenses should light up the scoreboard on Friday. However, Clemson’s defense should be able to make enough stops for the Tigers to pull away in the second half. Prediction: Clemson 48, Ohio State 34.
Saturday, Jan. 2
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
NC State vs. Kentucky (-2.5). The Wildcats struggled offensively for most of the year, but Mark Stoops managed injuries and COVID to keep the team afloat. Kentucky is still one of the strongest defenses in the SEC at full strength, and they’ll have their hands full against a potent NC State offense. Prediction: NC State 33, Kentucky 24.
Ole Miss vs. Indiana (-8.5). Indiana coach Tom Allen has a legit argument for Coach of the Year. Allen led the Hoosiers to one of their best seasons in school history, and now he gets to lead his team against Ole Miss, where he was an assistant coach under Hugh Freeze. Lane Kiffin has the Rebels to four wins in his debut season, and he has Ole Miss on the right trajectory moving forward. Prediction: Ole Miss 48, Indiana 41.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
Oregon vs. Iowa State (-4). Matt Campbell nearly led the Cyclones to a Big 12 title, but they couldn’t knock off Oklahoma for the second time this season. Meanwhile, Oregon won the Pac-12 title despite not winning the North Division. Washington was supposed to play USC in the title game, but they had to sit the game out for COVID reasons, so the Ducks stepped in and upset the Trojans. Prediction: Iowa State 34, Oregon 31.
Texas A&M vs. North Carolina (+7.5). The Aggies just missed out on the playoffs, and there was an argument to be made that they should have been included in the field over Ohio State. Nevertheless, Texas A&M had a terrific season, and Jimbo Fisher has vaulted his program into the top of the SEC. North Carolina didn’t quite live up to expectations this season, but Mack Brown’s team is still capable of scoring 40 any given night. Prediction: Texas A&M 44, North Carolina 38.