2021 Bowl Game Predictions: Brett McMurphy’s Updated College Football Projections with Projected Spreads

2021 Bowl Game Predictions: Brett McMurphy’s Updated College Football Projections with Projected Spreads article feature image
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Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: A Notre Dame helmet on a player’s head.

  • Bowl season is almost upon us.
  • With Selection Sunday coming after conference championship weekend, Brett McMurphy has updated his most recent bowl projections.
  • Find confirmed matchups, final predictions and projected spreads for each game below.

2021 Bowl Game Predictions

Last Updated: Sunday, Dec. 5 at 12:02 p.m. ET.

In the past week, there were approximately 300 coaching changes, 25 (known) candidates for the Miami athletic director’s position and the addition of a new bowl game. Or maybe that all just happened on Friday? I’m really not sure, it’s all been a blur.

What’s becoming clear, however, is the bowl lineup. Today is Selection Sunday. The official pairings for all 42 bowl games will be announced — hopefully after I’ve reported some first on Twitter (@Brett_McMurphy) and right here at the Action Network.

There are a number of bowls still up in the air and won’t be determined until Sunday afternoon — most notably involving the SEC and ACC — but a lot are coming into focus. The bowl matchups I’ve confirmed as of this morning or that have been officially announced, I’ve highlighted and bolded below.

Hopefully, I can improve on my success rate in my final projections. In the past four years (not including COVID-19’s 2020 season), I have correctly projected 73% of the 234 bowl teams in the correct bowl. I’ll gladly take anything over 70% this year, since missing only one team can domino into four or five teams in the wrong bowl.

Enough of my babbling. Onto the final projections. Enjoy!

And, as always, each bowl projection includes the projected point spread for each game based on Action Network senior writer Collin Wilson’s updated college football betting power ratings.

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College Football Playoff Projections

CFP National Championship

Monday, Jan. 10 ⋅ Indianapolis, IN
Projection: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 3 Georgia
Action Spread: Georgia -1.5

CFP Semifinals

Capital One Orange Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Miami Gardens, FL
Projection: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Cincinnati
Action Spread: Alabama -12.5

Goodyear Cotton Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Arlington, TX
Projection: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia
Action Spread: Georgia -8

New Year’s Six Bowls

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ New Orleans, LA
Projection: Baylor vs. Ole Miss
Action Spread: Ole Miss -2.5

Rose Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Pasadena, CA
Projection: Ohio State vs. Utah
Action Spread: Ohio State -8

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Glendale, AZ
Projection: Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State
Action Spread: Notre Dame -2

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Atlanta, GA
Projection: Michigan State vs. Pitt
Action Spread: Pitt -5


Other Bowls

Texas Bowl

Tuesday, Jan. 4 ⋅ Houston, TX
Projection: Kansas State vs. LSU
Action Spread: LSU -0.5

Vrbo Citrus Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Orlando, FL
Projection: Iowa vs. Kentucky
Action Spread: Kentucky -2

Outback Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Tampa, FL
Projection: Penn State vs. Arkansas
Action Spread: Arkansas -1.5

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Tucson, AZ
Projection: Eastern Michigan vs. Boise State
Action Spread: Boise State -13.5

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Jacksonville, FL
Projection: Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M
Action Spread: Texas A&M -6

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ El Paso, TX
Projection: Miami vs. Washington State
Action Spread: Miami -5

TransPerfect Music City Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Nashville, TN
Projection: Purdue vs. Tennessee
Action Spread: Tennessee -4

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Charlotte, NC
Projection: North Carolina vs. South Carolina
Action Spread: North Carolina -11.5

Las Vegas Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Las Vegas, NV
Projection: Wisconsin vs. Arizona State
Action Spread: Wisconsin -3.5

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Valero Alamo Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ San Antonio, TX
Projection: Oklahoma vs. Oregon
Action Spread: Oklahoma -1

Cheez-It Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ Orlando, FL
Projection: Clemson vs. Iowa State
Action Spread: Iowa State -0.5

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ Bronx, NY
Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Maryland
Action Spread: Virginia Tech -5

Fenway Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ Boston, MA
Projection: Boston College vs. Houston
Action Spread: Houston -8

SDCCU Holiday Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ San Diego, CA
Projection: NC State vs. UCLA
Action Spread: NC State -2.5

Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Phoenix, AZ
Projection: Minnesota vs. West Virginia
Action Spread: Minnesota -2

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Memphis, TN
Projection: Texas Tech vs. Mississippi State
Action Spread: Mississippi State -8

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Dallas, TX
Projection: Air Force vs. Louisville
Action Spread: Louisville -1

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Birmingham, AL
Projection: Auburn vs. SMU
Action Spread: Auburn -8

Military Bowl

Monday, Dec. 27 ⋅ Annapolis, MD
Projection: Virginia vs. East Carolina
Action Spread: Virginia -5

Quick Lane Bowl

Monday, Dec. 27 ⋅ Detroit, MI
Projection: Nevada vs. Western Michigan
Action Spread: Nevada -5

Camellia Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 25 ⋅ Montgomery, AL
Projection: Georgia State vs. UAB
Action Spread: UAB -5

EasyPost Hawaii Bowl

Friday, Dec. 24 ⋅ Honolulu, HI
Projection: Hawaii vs. Memphis
Action Spread: Memphis -5.5

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Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 23 ⋅ Tampa, FL
Projection: Florida vs. UCF
Action Spread: Florida -5.5

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 22 ⋅ Fort Worth, TX
Projection: Kent State vs. Army
Action Spread: Army -7

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 21 ⋅ Frisco, TX
Projection: San Diego State vs. Missouri
Action Spread: San Diego State -1.5

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 21 ⋅ Boise, ID
Projection: Central Michigan vs. Wyoming
Action Spread: Wyoming -1

Myrtle Beach Bowl

Monday, Dec. 20 ⋅ Myrtle Beach, SC
Projection: Old Dominion vs. Tulsa
Action Spread: Tulsa -7.5

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ New Orleans, LA
Projection: Marshall vs. Louisiana
Action Spread: Louisiana -4.5

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Inglewood, CA
Projection: Oregon State vs. Utah State
Action Spread: Oregon State -9

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Shreveport, LA
Projection: BYU vs. UTSA
Action Spread: BYU -6

LendingTree Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Mobile, AL
Projection: Ball State vs. Liberty
Action Spread: Liberty -11.5

New Mexico Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Albuquerque, NM
Projection: Fresno State vs. UTEP
Action Spread: Fresno State -17

RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Boca Raton, FL
Projection: Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State
Action Spread: Appalachian State -1

Cure Bowl

Friday, Dec. 17 ⋅ Orlando, FL
Projection: Northern Illinois vs. Coastal Carolina
Action Spread: Coastal Carolina -14

Bahamas Bowl

Friday, Dec. 17 ⋅ Nassau, Bahamas
Projection: Middle Tennessee vs. Toledo
Action Spread: Toledo -12

New Unnamed Texas Bowl

TBA ⋅ Texas
Projection: North Texas vs. Miami (OH)
Action Spread: Miami (OH) -3

Teams highlighted and in bold have officially accepted bowl bids or have been confirmed by The Action Network.

* The highest-rated champion from the Group of Five conferences (American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt) will be selected to play in the Fiesta Bowl if it does not qualify for College Football Playoff.

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