Championship Saturday Leads To Chaos
Hello everyone and welcome to our Last Word 2023 Final Bowl Projections. Every year there’s one week during the college football season where upsets happen turning the picks into a giant Etch-A-Sketch. For most of 2023, things remained status quo. However, Championship Saturday was the day where both our number one and our group of five team lost. As a result, we have a lot of changes all the way down our list. If you’d like to see how things changed in 24 hours click here.
College Football Playoff
Of course, the biggest news of the day came as Alabama knocked off Georgia 27-24 to win the SEC Championship. It was the first loss for Kirby Smart’s club since losing the 2021 title game to the Crimson Tide. The question becomes is that enough to bump Nick Saban’s club up from eight to the final four? In addition, Texas had no trouble with Oklahoma State winning the Big 12 in their final year. Do they get in due to their win over Alabama?
Allstate Sugar Bowl: January 1st- (1)- Michigan vs. (4)- Florida State- With Georgia’s loss the Wolverines move up to the top spot. The Seminoles were down to their third-string quarterback, Brock Glenn. Even so they were still able to knock off Louisville.
Prudential Rose Bowl: January 1st- (2)- Washington vs. (3) Texas- With the Huskies win they move up to the second spot. As for the Longhorns, they beat Alabama head-to-head so they get the nod and the three seed. In the history of the playoff, no team lower than sixth had gotten in before this year.
We should also add Last Word was the only site to have the Huskies in the playoff before this week. In fact we had them in starting with Week Seven.
College Football National Championship: January 8th- (1)- Michigan vs. (2) Washington- For the first time in months we have a change in their title game.
No SEC champion had ever missed the playoff and neither had an undefeated Power Five champ. Something had to give and we went with the unbeaten Seminoles. Next year we get the 12-team expanded playoff where at this point we’d only be debating about seeding.
Selection Committee Games
Heading into Saturday Tulane was our Group Of Five team. However, they lost the AAC title game to SMU and are likely losing coach Willie Fritz to Houston. Combine that with Georgia’s loss and we have wholesale changes.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl: December 29th- Missouri vs. Ohio State- The Flames went 13-0 and despite having the worst strength of schedule in football they are our Group Of Five team over SMU.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: December 30th- Georgia vs. Penn State- The Bulldogs made the wrong kind of history this weekend. They are the first team ranked number one heading into the final week to not make the playoff.
Capital One Orange Bowl: December 30th- Alabama vs Louisville– Early morning intel has the the Crimson Tide heading to Miami.
VRBO Fiesta Bowl: January 1st- Oregon vs. Liberty- The Flames went 13-0 and edge SMU for our Group Of Five. Due to the G5 team (Tulane) playing in the Cotton Bowl last year we’re sending Liberty out to Arizona.
Continuing with our 2023 Final Bowl Projections let’s roll through the games by date. One thing to note there are no games on December 24th or 31st to not go up against the NFL schedule.
Games Around the New Year
With Alabama heading to the Orange Bowl this creates a big ripple effect across our next sets of games. An ACC team can’t play in the ReliaQuest Bowl so a Big Ten school gets a big bump.
Cheez-It Citrus Bowl: January 1st- Big 10 vs. SEC- Ole Miss vs. Iowa
ReliaQuest Bowl: January 1st- SEC vs. Big 10- LSU vs. Wisconsin- Unfortunately the “Brian Kelly Bowl” is now off the table.
TransPerfect Music City Bowl: December 30th- SEC vs. Big 10- Auburn vs. Maryland
Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl: December 30th- MAC vs. MWC– UNLV vs. Toledo
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl: December 29th- SEC vs. Big 10 or ACC/Notre Dame- North Carolina State vs. Tennessee
Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl: December 29th- ACC/Notre Dame vs. Pac-12- Miami (Florida) vs. Oregon State
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: December 29th- Big 12 vs. SEC- Memphis* vs. Iowa State- All signs point to the Tigers playing a home game in their bowl. They go as a result of no SEC team being available.
Post Christmas Games
Quick Lane Bowl: December 26th- Big 10 vs. MAC- Minnesota vs. Ohio
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl: December 26th- American/ACC/Big 12/ SEC- Fresno State vs. Texas San-Antonio
Guaranteed Rate Bowl: December 26th- Big 12 vs. Big 10- Kansas vs. Syracuse*
DirecTV Holiday Bowl: December 27th- ACC vs. Pac-12- Clemson vs. USC- Even though there’s zero chance Caleb Williams plays in this game organizers like the Trojans.
Military Bowl: December 27th- ACC/Notre Dame vs. American- North Carolina vs. South Florida
Duke’s Mayo Bowl: December 27th- ACC/Notre Dame vs. SEC- Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech- We get a rematch of the then Belk Bowl in 2019 where the Cats won 37-30.
TaxAct Texas Bowl: December 27th- Big 12 vs. SEC- Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
Wasabi Fenway Bowl: December 28th- ACC/Notre Dame vs. American- Boston College vs. SMU
Bad Boy Motors Pinstripe Bowl: December 28th- ACC/Notre Dame vs. Big 10- Georgia Tech vs. Rutgers
Pop Tarts Bowl- December 28th: ACC/Notre Dame vs. Big 12- Notre Dame vs. Kansas State
Valero Alamo Bowl: December 28th- Big 12 vs. Pac-12- Oklahoma vs. Arizona
As we roll on with our 2023 Final Bowl Projections let’s move to the set of games just before Christmas. That includes a whopping seven games on December 23rd. Going through our last sets of games we had to get creative with some of these games so as to not have teams from the Sun Belt playing each other.
Games Right Before Christmas
76 Birmingham Bowl December 23rd: American vs. SEC- *West Virginia vs. *Troy
Camellia Bowl- December 23rd: MAC vs. Sun Belt- Bowling Green vs. Arkansas State
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: December 23rd- Big 12 vs. Pool- Air Force vs. James Madison- If only this game could have been played in Week Nine. At that point, the Dukes were unbeaten and still had coach Curt Cignelli. On the other side of the ball the Falcons were also unbeaten but now are trying to halt a four-game losing streak.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: December 23rd- MAC vs. MWC- Marshall* vs. Utah State
68 Ventures Bowl: December 23rd- Pool vs. Sun Belt- Eastern Michigan vs. South Alabama
RS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl: December 23rd- Big 10 vs. Pac-12- Northwestern vs. Utah
Easy Post Hawai’i Bowl: December 23rd- Conference USA/MWC/American- Coastal Carolina+ vs. San Jose State+- Earlier this week the Chanticleers and Spartans became the first teams to officially accept a bid.
Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl: December 22nd- American/ACC/Notre Dame/SEC- Duke vs. Central Florida
RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl: December 21st- Group Of Five vs. Group Of Five- Georgia Southern vs. Northern Illinois
We wrap up our 2023 Final Bowl Bowl Projections with the first set of bowls on the schedule. That includes a massive seven-game slate on December 16th alone.
First Weekend Games
Famous Toastery Bowl: December 16th- Conference USA vs. MAC- Old Dominion vs. Western Kentucky- The former Bahamas Bowl being played in Charlotte this year has a new sponsor.
Cricket Celebration Bowl: December 16th- MEAC vs. SWAC- Florida A&M+ vs. Howard+- The Rattlers won the SWAC and will face the Bison in Atlanta.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: December 16th- Conference USA vs. Sun Belt- Louisiana+ vs. Jacksonville State+- It looks like Ticketmaster spoiled the unveiling of this contest which was found online Thursday night. Nonetheless, we now know where Jacksonville State is playing in its first bowl game.
Duluth Trading Cure Bowl: December 16th- Group Of Five vs. Group Of Five- Tulane vs. Appalachian State- The Green Wave falls from the New Year’s Six games to this one.
Isleta New Mexico Bowl: December 16th- C-USA vs. MWC- Wyoming vs. New Mexico State
LA Bowl Hosted By Gronk: December 16th- Pac-12 vs. Mountain West- Boise State vs. UCLA- Three weeks ago the Broncos surprisingly fired coach Andy Avalos. Under interim coach Spencer Danielson they ran off three straight wins becoming the first team to win the Mountain West title with an interim coach. We swapped UCLA and California for our final picks.
Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl: December 16th-Big 12 vs. Pac-12- Texas Tech vs. California
Myrtle Beach Bowl: American/MAC/Sun Belt- December 16th- Miami (Ohio) vs. Georgia State
Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl: December 19th-Group of Five vs. Group Of Five- Rice vs. Texas State
*Denotes a replacement team.
+Denotes a team that has accepted a bid
That does it for our 2023 Final Bowl Projections here at Last Word On College Football. A huge thank you to everyone who’s followed along the way.