College Football Bowl Projections: Brett McMurphy’s Preseason Predictions With Projected Spreads

College Football Bowl Projections: Brett McMurphy’s Preseason Predictions With Projected Spreads article feature image
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Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Sean Clifford.

It’s beginning to look a lot like the start of the college football season. Everywhere you go. … Conferences are expanding. Others may be crumbling. And some are trying to combine forces like Justice League superheroes.

But the surest sign the official start is a few days away is the release of my first bowl projections at The Action Network. As I have in past years (decades), I will provide the most accurate bowl projections on the planet.

This year with The Action Network, though, you will get an added bonus. Each bowl projection will include the projected point spread for that game based on Collin Wilson’s current power ratings.

The biggest challenge this year with my projections is at least 12 Group of 5 bowls (all owned by ESPN) do not have a specific conference tie-in. Instead, the 12 bowls will select from a “pool” of teams from multiple conferences. Or more specifically, ESPN will assign teams to those bowls in early December.

This creates more flexibility for the bowls but makes it virtually impossible to predict which conference will be assigned to each of those bowls.

There is some good news: College football will have a record 84 teams in the 42 bowls (not including the College Football Playoff title game).

New to the postseason lineup this year are the Fenway and Los Angeles bowls.

Last season, there were 40 bowls, but 18 were canceled when teams were not available because of COVID-19 or a decision to not participate.

On to the 2021 bowl lineup. And remember: if you hate my projections, they’ll probably change next week.


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College Football Playoff National Championship

Monday, Jan. 10 ⋅ Indianapolis, IN

Projection: Ohio State vs. Alabama

Proj. Spread: Alabama -2.5


College Football Playoff Semifinals

Capital One Orange Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Miami Gardens, FL

Projection: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Oklahoma

Proj. Spread: Ohio State -2.5


Goodyear Cotton Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Arlington, TX

Projection: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Georgia

Proj. Spread: Alabama -7.5


New Year’s Six Bowls

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ New Orleans, LA

Projection: Iowa State vs. Texas A&M

Proj. Spread: Iowa State -0.5


Rose Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Pasadena, CA

Projection: Utah vs. Wisconsin

Proj. Spread: Wisconsin -1


PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Glendale, AZ

Projection: North Carolina vs. UCF*

Proj. Spread: North Carolina -5.5


Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Atlanta, GA

Projection: Clemson vs. Oregon

Proj. Spread: Clemson -11.5



Other Bowls

Texas Bowl

Tuesday, Jan. 4 ⋅ Houston, TX

Projection: TCU vs. Mississippi State

Proj. Spread: TCU -4.5


Vrbo Citrus Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Orlando, FL

Projection: Penn State vs. Florida

Proj. Spread: Penn State -5


Outback Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Tampa, FL

Projection: Michigan vs. LSU

Proj. Spread: LSU -3.5


Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Tucson, AZ

Projection: Central Michigan vs. Fresno State

Proj. Spread: Fresno State -0.5


TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Jacksonville, FL

Projection: Miami (FL) vs. Auburn

Proj. Spread: Miami (FL) -3.5


Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ El Paso, TX

Projection: Louisville vs. UCLA

Proj. Spread: UCLA -0.5


TransPerfect Music City Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Nashville, TN

Projection: Indiana vs. Missouri

Proj. Spread: Indiana -5.5


Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Charlotte, NC

Projection: Pitt vs. Ole Miss

Proj. Spread: Ole Miss -1.5


Las Vegas Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Las Vegas, NV

Projection: Iowa vs. Washington

Proj. Spread: Pick ’em



Valero Alamo Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ San Antonio, TX

Projection: Oklahoma State vs. USC

Proj. Spread: Oklahoma State -3.5


Cheez-It Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ Orlando, FL

Projection: Notre Dame vs. Texas

Proj. Spread: Texas -3


New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ Bronx, NY

Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Minnesota

Proj. Spread: Virginia Tech -2


Fenway Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ Boston, MA

Projection: Virginia vs. Houston

Proj. Spread: Virginia -2


SDCCU Holiday Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ San Diego, CA

Projection: NC State vs. Arizona State

Proj. Spread: Arizona State -4.5


Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Phoenix, AZ

Projection: Northwestern vs. West Virginia

Proj. Spread: West Virginia -9.5


AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Memphis, TN

Projection: Kansas State vs. Kentucky

Proj. Spread: Kentucky -4


SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Dallas, TX

Projection: Wake Forest vs. Army

Proj. Spread: Pick ’em


TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Birmingham, AL

Projection: Memphis vs. Tennessee

Proj. Spread: Tennessee -3.5


Military Bowl

Monday, Dec. 27 ⋅ Annapolis, MD

Projection: Boston College vs. Cincinnati

Proj. Spread: Cincinnati -9


Quick Lane Bowl

Monday, Dec. 27 ⋅ Detroit, MI

Projection: Maryland vs. Toledo

Proj. Spread: Maryland -3


Camellia Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 25 ⋅ Montgomery, AL

Projection: San Jose State vs. Appalachian State

Proj. Spread: Appalachian State -4.5


EasyPost Hawaii Bowl

Friday, Dec. 24 ⋅ Honolulu, HI

Projection: Hawaii vs. UTSA

Proj. Spread: UTSA -2


Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 23 ⋅ Tampa, FL

Projection: Tulsa vs. Arkansas

Proj. Spread: Arkansas -2.5


Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 22 ⋅ Fort Worth, TX

Projection: SMU vs. Baylor

Proj. Spread: SMU -1


Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 21 ⋅ Boise, ID

Projection: Buffalo vs. San Diego State

Proj. Spread: San Diego State -5


Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 21 ⋅ Frisco, TX

Projection: Rice vs. Georgia State

Proj. Spread: Georgia State -4.5


Myrtle Beach Bowl

Monday, Dec. 20 ⋅ Myrtle Beach, SC

Projection: Coastal Carolina vs. East Carolina

Proj. Spread: Coastal Carolina -10


Updated 2021 College Football Betting Power Ratings

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ New Orleans, LA

Projection: Marshall vs. Louisiana

Proj. Spread: Louisiana -2


Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Inglewood, CA

Projection: Cal vs. Boise State

Proj. Spread: Pick ’em


Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Shreveport, LA

Projection: BYU vs. Western Kentucky

Proj. Spread: BYU -5


LendingTree Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Mobile, AL

Projection: Eastern Michigan vs. Troy

Proj. Spread: Troy -9


New Mexico Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Albuquerque, NM

Projection: Nevada vs. Western Michigan

Proj. Spread: Nevada -2.5


RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Boca Raton, FL

Projection: UAB vs. Tulane

Proj. Spread: Tulane -0.5


Cure Bowl

Friday, Dec. 17 ⋅ Orlando, FL

Projection: Florida Atlantic vs. Liberty

Proj. Spread: Liberty -9.5


Bahamas Bowl

Friday, Dec. 17 ⋅ Nassau, Bahamas

Projection: Louisiana Tech vs. Ball State

Proj. Spread: Ball State -18.5


Redbox Bowl

TBD ⋅ San Francisco, CA

Projection: Nebraska vs. Washington State

Proj. Spread: Washington State -0.5


* 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.


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