Inside 2021-22’s college bowl game slate

Mark Keplinger and Ava Seiffer

bowl game
Matthew Tate

The college football postseason has finally arrived, and teams across the country are preparing to finish their season with a victory and a trophy. There are over 40 bowl games this season, but The Hullabaloo will preview some of the most intriguing matchups, including College Football Playoff games, the rest of the New Year’s Six bowls and other exciting matchups.

Cotton Bowl: No. 1 University of Alabama vs. No. 4 University of Cincinnati

On Dec. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the College Football Playoffs kick off at 3:30 p.m. Heisman trophy winner Bryce Young leads a Crimson Tide team into the game that seems to be coming together at the right time, as they dominated the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship. However, the Tide offense does sometimes stall out at bad moments, like it did against Auburn University, LSU and the University of Florida.

Cincinnati enters this contest as the only remaining undefeated team in the nation. Well-coached and led by quarterback Desmond Ridder, the team is capable of impressive wins against the likes of the University of Notre Dame and University of Houston, and gritty wins against poorer teams such as Tulane and University of Tulsa. The Hullabaloo predicts a close game, but for Alabama to pull away in the end 35-20.

Orange Bowl: No. 2 University of Michigan vs. No. 3 University of Georgia 

Michigan will be playing Georgia in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami on Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. Though ranked higher, Michigan’s quarterback, Cade McNamara, will likely be unable to combat Georgia’s quarterback, Stetson Bennett. Offensively, the teams have played very similarly, both being first in their respective conferences. Georgia has the top-ranked defense in the country. 

The Wolverines have controlled most of their winning games from the interior; however, the Bulldogs have one of the best interior units in the country. Coming off of their last game, Georgia is still expected to lose as their blowout against Alabama resulted in a 17-point loss. The Hullabaloo believes that considering Michigan’s season and their performance at the Orange Bowl in the past, they will win, but the game will be a low-scoring nail biter with Michigan barely winning 27-23.

Peach Bowl: No. 11 Michigan State University vs. No. 13 University of Pittsburgh 

On Dec. 30, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the Michigan State Spartans will play the Pittsburgh Panthers in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The Panthers’ quarterback Kenny Pickett has the fifth-most passing yards and third-most touchdowns in the regular season. Pittsburgh averages about 11 more points per game than Michigan State. 

Michigan State is expected to put up a good fight since their running back Kenneth Walker has rushed for 1646 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. The Hullabaloo believes that Pittsburgh will win 34-26.

Fiesta Bowl: No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State University 

Notre Dame will be playing Oklahoma State on Jan. 1 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Fiesta Bowl will be Marcus Freeman’s debut game since Brian Kelly left Notre Dame for LSU. The Fighting Irish’s offense has been high-scoring this season with Kyren Williams rushing for 995 yards with 14 touchdowns

Oklahoma State has had a good season with great defense this season. Though Oklahoma State’s season has been impressive, Notre Dame is definitely the favorite. The game should be low scoring with The Hullabaloo predicting a win for the Fighting Irish 18-14. 

Rose Bowl: No. 6 The Ohio State University vs. No. 11 University of Utah

New Year’s Day will see the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Utah Utes battle in Pasadena, California. Led by the electric heisman finalist C.J. Stroud, the Buckeyes offense leads the nation in points per game. Stroud himself has thrown for 38 touchdowns, with only five interceptions.

The Utes are a solid team all around and have proven to always be a tough out. Their defense has improved over the past few weeks, holding an explosive University of Oregon offense to just 17 points over eight quarters. Offensively, the Utes ran through Tavion Thomas, who rushed for 20 touchdowns on the year. Off the field, the Utes had two players killed due to gun violence, Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan, and will look to win the Rose Bowl for them. The Hullabaloo predicts a 33-31 Utah victory.

Sugar Bowl: No. 7 Baylor University vs. No. 8 Ole Miss

The Caesars Superdome in New Orleans will host the Ole Miss Rebels and the Baylor Bears on New Year’s Day. Rebel quarterback Matt Corral has had a terrific year, throwing for 20 touchdowns, running for 11 more and only throwing four interceptions. When passing, Corral will look to link up with Dontario Drummond, who amassed nearly 1000 yards and eight touchdowns catches.

The Bear’s defense, however, looks to give Corral and the rest of the Rebel offense a miserable day. The Bears boast the 14th-best defense in terms of points per game allowed, only allowing 19.2 points. In the Big 12 Championship against Oklahoma State, the Bears defense made a miraculous goalline stop on the one yard line as time expired. Despite this, The Hullabaloo still predicts a 27-23 Ole Miss victory.

Outback Bowl: No. 8 The Pennsylvania State University vs. No. 21 University of Arkansas

On Jan. 1 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, the Pennsylvania State Nittany Lions will face off with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Currently, Pennsylvania State is the favorite on the betting line despite their 24-23 all time record against current members of the SEC. The Hullabaloo predicts that Pennsylvania State will beat Arkansas, but the game will be relatively low scoring with the Nittany Lions winning 23-17.

Texas Bowl: Kansas State vs. LSU 

Kansas State will be playing against LSU on Jan. 4 at NRG Stadium in Houston. LSU is expected to win this game, but they will have to buck up their defense against Kansas State’s running back Deuce Vaughn. The Hullabaloo believes LSU will win 30-20. 

Alamo Bowl: No. 15 University of Oregon vs. No. 14 University of Oklahoma 

Oregon and Oklahoma will play each other on Dec. 29 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. After losing the PAC-12 championship to Utah, Oregon should be ready to take another loss from Oklahoma. This game is the highest-ranked match up of all of the non-playoff bowls this season with both teams having won 10 games each. Though the teams are both ranked well, The Hullabaloo is predicting a win from Oklahoma 39-21.

Gator Bowl: No. 20 Wake Forest University vs. No. 23 Texas A&M University

Texas A&M is expected to win their game against Wake Forest on Dec. 31 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. This game will be a rematch of the 2017 Belk Bowl where Wake Forest won; however, this season we predict a different outcome. The Hullabaloo believes that the Aggies will win by pulling away at the end with a score of 39-34.  

Camellia Bowl: Georgia State University vs. Ball State University

On Dec. 25 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama, Georgia State will compete with Ball State in what’s looking to be a total blowout. Coming off of the near upset against Louisiana, Georgia is frankly a better team than Ball State. The Hullabaloo believes that the Georgia State Panthers will demolish Ball State with a 34-6 win. 

New Orleans Bowl: No. 16 University of Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Marshall University 

The New Orleans Bowl will be played at Caesars Superdome on Dec. 18 in New Orleans. This matchup is a bowl regular and will be another exciting game. The Hullabaloo is expecting a win from ULL 36-21.

Celebration Bowl: Jackson State University vs. South Carolina State University

The Jackson State Tigers and the South Carolina State Bulldogs will square off on Dec. 18 in Atlanta. This Bulldogs team is certainly good, but does suffer from inconsistent quarterback play. The Tigers, coached by legendary NFL cornerback Deion Sanders, possess both an explosive offense and the best defense in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Hullabaloo predicts the Tigers to rout the Bulldogs 30-13.

Citrus Bowl: No. 15 University of Iowa vs. No. 22 University of Kentucky

Held in Orlando, Florida on New Years Day, the Iowa Hawkeyes and Kentucky Wildcats look like an intriguing matchup. Iowa will be without star running back Tyler Goodson, as he prepares for the NFL draft. Kentucky’s team is less prone to shock defeats than Iowa. Without Goodson, The Hullabaloo predicts a 24-10 Kentucky win.

Frisco Bowl: No. 24 San Diego State University vs. University of Texas at San Antonio

Frisco, Texas will host the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 21 between the SDSU Aztecs and the UTSA Roadrunners. The Aztecs’ defense is undeniably elite, but their offense is incredibly poor. Their starting quarterback, Lucas Johnson, could only manage nine touchdowns this season. After a fairytale season where UTSA only lost one game, their high flying offense should see them win 27-9.

Birmingham Bowl: No. 20 Houston vs. Auburn

The Houston Cougars and the Auburn Tigers will square off in Birmingham, Alabama on Dec. 28. Auburn has come off a tumultuous 6-6 season, which included a brief quarterback battle between three-year starter Bo Nix and LSU transfer T.J. Finley. Finley will start for the Tigers, but he will have to outduel highflying Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune and avoid the relentless Houston pass rush. The Hullabaloo predicts a 30-24 Cougar win.

Fenway Bowl: University of Virginia vs. SMU

The Virginia Cavaliers and the SMU Mustangs will duel in Boston on Dec. 29. Both teams have high-flying offenses with mediocre defenses. This game will come down to the play of both quarterbacks, Tanner Mordecai and Brennan Armstrong. The Hullabaloo predicts this game to be 42-35 SMU after overtime.

Mayo Bowl: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill vs. University South Carolina

On Dec. 30, Charlotte will host a Carolina battle between the North Carolina Tarheels and the South Carolina Gamecocks. Both teams enter as 6-6, but both teams have different strengths. The Tarheels have a porous defense but an elite offense led by dual-threat quarterback Sam Howell. The Gamecocks have a terrible offense but a middle-of-the-road defense. North Carolina should prevail 27-24 but will require overtime to win.