Can Anyone Stop Alabama?
The 2020 college football season was one like no other due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally there were 43 bowl games scheduled, however, only 25 were actually played. In the end, a familiar script played out with Nick Saban winning his sixth national championship at Alabama. As we head into the new year the Crimson Tide is again the team to beat. Can anyone knock them off? Let’s find out with the Last Word On College Football 2021 Preseason Bowl Projections for all 44 games.
College Football Playoff
Cotton Bowl- December 31st- Alabama vs. Ohio State- This time around we get last year’s championship match-up in the semi-finals. The “800,000 man” Bryce Young takes over under center for the Tide. While they must replace a ton of skill players, if anyone can do it and not miss a beat it’s Alabama.
Now that C.J. Stroud has been named quarterback Ryan Day the Buckeyes can go about their business of making another playoff. Once again OSU is the class of the Big 10 and will try to make a dent in the 1-4 all-time deficit against Alabama.
Orange Bowl- December 31st- Oklahoma vs. Clemson- On paper, this might be Lincoln Riley’s best team since coming to Norman. Preseason Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler leads the Sooners offense while their defense looks much improved from 2020.
The Trevor Lawrence era is over in Clemson with D.J. Uiagalelei the new man under center. Appearing in nine games last season he threw for 914 yards and five touchdowns. North Carolina will get them quite a battle but Dabo Swinney‘s club makes the playoff for a seventh straight year.
College Football National Championship- January 10th- Alabama vs. Oklahoma- After four straight semi-final losses we’re projecting the Sooners to finally make the championship game and face the Crimson Tide.
Continuing on with our 2021 Preseason Bowl Projections we head to the New Year’s Six games.
Selection Committee Games
Peach Bowl- December 30th- Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M- The Aggies have playoff aspirations in 2021 and the SEC west most likely comes down to the October 9th game versus Alabama. Jimbo Fisher’s club was so close to the playoff last year and wants to take that next step in 2021. Many think the Fighting Irish will take a step back this season due to their difficult schedule. However, we think they’ll play their way back into another selection committee game.
Fiesta Bowl- January 1st- Cincinnati vs. North Carolina- One of the most interesting battles in 2021 is who gets the Group of Five bid. Central Florida, Coastal Carolina, and Louisiana can all make a claim for the bid. Although, in our first projections, we are going with Luke Fickell’s Bearcats. A season ago they nearly knocked off Georgia in the Peach Bowl. This time they’ll look to knock off an ACC team.
Rose Bowl- January 1st- Oregon vs. Wisconsin- We have a rematch of the 2020 game won by the Ducks 28-27. The Badgers are looking to rebound after a down season for them. As a result of Ohio State going to the playoff, they head to Pasadena the Big 10 representative. Led by All-American Kayvon Thibodeaux the Ducks can win with defense as well as scoring the ball.
Sugar Bowl- January 1st- Georgia vs. Iowa State- After a one year absence, the Bulldogs are once again the team to beat in the SEC East. A lot hinges on the season opener between Georgia and Clemson. Should Kirby Smart‘s team win then they are firmly in the mix for the playoff. As a result of Oklahoma making the playoff, the Cyclones go to New Orleans as the Big 12 representative. Running back Breece Hall and tight end Charlie Kolar lead an offense that will put up tons of points in the scoring happy Big 12.
Moving on with our 2021 Preseason Bowl Projections we turn to the games around January 1st.
New Year’s Eve And Day Games
Citrus Bowl- January 1st- Florida vs. Iowa
Outback Bowl- January 1st- Kentucky vs. Penn State- Several intriguing storylines in this game including the Wildcats’ quarterback Will Levis facing his former squad. In addition, this is a rematch of not only the 2019 Citrus Bowl which the Cats won but the 1999 Outback Bowl won by the Nittany Lions.
Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl- December 31st- Kent State vs. San Diego State- In case you hadn’t heard Barstool Sports bought the rights to the game. As a result, the game will be streamed rather than airing on the CBS Sports Network, and probably get more viewers.
Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl- December 31st- Arizona State vs. Virginia Tech
Gator Bowl- December 31st- LSU vs. Florida State
Redbox Bowl- December 31st- Purdue vs. Stanford– From everything we’ve heard this game is returning in 2021 with its usual Big 10 versus Pac-12 match-up. So we are projecting the Boilermakers and the Cardinal.
Texas Bowl- January 4th- Mississippi State vs. TCU
Pre-New Year’s Games
Las Vegas Bowl- December 30th- Indiana vs. Washington
Music City Bowl- December 30th- Auburn vs. Northwestern
Duke’s Mayo Bowl- December 30th- Ole Miss vs. Pittsburgh
Alamo Bowl- December 29th- Oklahoma State vs. Utah- Every year the Alamo Bowl is one of the best games and the 2021 edition should be no different.
Cheez-It Bowl-December 29th- North Carolina State vs. Texas
Pinstripe Bowl- December 29th- Boston College vs. Michigan
Fenway Bowl- December 29th- Central Florida vs. Virginia
Guaranteed Rate Bowl- December 28th- Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
Holiday Bowl- December 28th- Miami (Florida) vs. USC- This might be the most fun of all the non-selection committee games. We’ll find out a lot about D’Eriq King and the Hurricanes when they face Alabama in the season opener. Kedon Slovis leads the Trojans who need a big season in 2021 in order to keep Clay Helton off the hot seat.
Liberty Bowl- December 28th- Missouri vs. West Virginia
First Responder Bowl- December 28th- California vs. Kansas State
Birmingham Bowl- December 28th- Arkansas State vs. Southern Mississippi- Normally this game features the AAC versus the SEC. However, we aren’t projecting enough bowl-eligible teams from either league so these two go in their place.
Military Bowl- December 27th- Louisville vs. Memphis- Getting to a bowl game would be a huge accomplishment for Scott Satterfield’s Cardinals after a rough 2020.
Quick Lane Bowl- December 27th- Air Force vs. Western Michigan
Games Around Christmas Day
Cameilla Bowl- December 25th- Ball State vs. Louisiana
Hawai’i Bowl- December 24th- Hawai’i vs. Houston
Gasparilla Bowl- December 23th- Liberty vs. Wake Forest
Armed Forces Bowl- December 22nd- Army vs. Baylor
Frisco Bowl- December 21st- SMU vs. Texas San-Antonio
Idaho Potato Bowl- December 21st- Miami (Ohio) vs. San Jose State
Myrtle Beach Bowl- December 20th- Coastal Carolina vs. Toledo- As mentioned earlier the Chanticleers are one of the teams to watch for the Group of Five bid. This might be the only time hosting a bowl game is considered a disappointment.
We finish up our 2021 preseason bowl projections with a look at the early season games. In fact, this list includes a whopping seven games on Saturday, December 18th alone.
First Weekend Bowl Games
Bahamas Bowl- December 17th- Rice vs. Eastern Michigan
Cure Bowl- December 17th- Georgia Southern vs. Western Kentucky
Boca Raton Bowl- December 18th- Florida Atlantic vs. Fresno State
Celebration Bowl- December 18th- Alcorn State vs. Norfolk State
New Mexico Bowl- December 18th- Marshall vs. Nevada
Independence Bowl- December 18th- BYU vs. UAB– The Cougars are locked into Shreveport unless they are the Group of Five representative. However, that’s not likely to happen so they face the Blazers.
Lending Tree Bowl- December 18th- Buffalo vs. Troy
Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl- December 18th- Boise State vs. UCLA- Yes you are reading that correctly. The ABC late night host is sponsoring the game which was one of many canceled a year ago. We had the Broncos and Bruins matched up last year and we’re starting with that in 2021. Chip Kelly’s club gets an early start on the season this weekend when they play Hawai’i.
New Orleans Bowl- December 18th- Appalachian State vs. Louisiana Tech
Thanks for checking out our 2021 preseason bowl projections here at Last Word On College Football. Don’t like where your team is projected or don’t see your team at all? Leave a comment below or on Twitter. Don’t worry we’ll be updating our picks weekly so your team’s results may change from week to week. Furthermore, let’s not forget we are still in the middle of a pandemic and this can all change at a moment’s notice.