Bowl projections: Will two SEC teams make the College Football Playoff?

Welcome to the first round of our bowl projections. With most teams halfway through their 2021 seasons, it's a great time to start trying to figure out where bowl-eligible teams will play this postseason.

These projections are a combination of future forecasting and teams' current position in the standings. Our picks will probably change significantly over the course of the rest of the season, especially if some of the teams that are currently 3-3 finish the season 5-7.

Bowl season kicks off Dec. 17 and ends with the national championship game on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis. The first CFP rankings will be released on Nov. 2.

College Football Playoff semifinals

Orange Bowl (Dec. 31)

  • Georgia vs. Cincinnati

Right now we're going with Georgia as the top seed in the College Football Playoff and Cincy as the No. 4 seed pending how the committee views the Bearcats. Remember, the committee has traditionally been less bullish on Group of Five undefeated teams than others.

Cotton Bowl (Dec. 31)

  • Alabama vs. Ohio State

If Alabama loses a close game to Georgia in the SEC championship game then we can easily see the committee putting a two-loss team in the playoff for the first time. Ohio State gets the edge over Oklahoma for the other spot, though this is a toss-up at this point. Both teams have tough schedules over the second half.

New Year's Six games

Peach Bowl (Dec. 30)

  • Pitt (ACC champion) vs. Ole Miss (at-large)

The Panthers are our pick for the ACC since they're favored to beat Clemson on Saturday as 3-point BetMGM favorites. If Clemson wins that game, we may have to put the Tigers in this spot next week.

Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1)

  • Iowa (at-large) vs. Notre Dame (at-large)

Iowa doesn't have any ranked teams left on its schedule and will be favored to win out on the way to the Big Ten title game. Notre Dame doesn't have any ranked teams on its schedule either. The Irish could finish the season 11-1.

Rose Bowl (Jan. 1)

  • Michigan (Big Ten) vs. Utah (Pac-12)

Michigan would get this spot as the No. 2 team from the Big Ten and we have Utah as the projected Pac-12 champion at the moment. The Pac-12 seems up for grabs, especially as Oregon enters Saturday's game at UCLA as an underdog.

Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1)

  • Oklahoma (Big 12) vs. Kentucky (SEC)

The Big 12 champion heads to New Orleans if it doesn't make the playoff. Will the Sooners run the table with Caleb Williams at quarterback? Kentucky is currently 6-1 and has a manageable schedule the rest of the season with games at Mississippi State and Louisville penciled in as the toughest left to go.

Other bowl games

Bahamas Bowl (Dec. 17)

  • Charlotte vs. Ball State

Cure Bowl (Dec. 17)

  • Buffalo vs. Boise State

Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 18)

  • Wyoming vs. Florida Atlantic

New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 18)

  • UTEP vs. Air Force

Independence Bowl (Dec. 18)

  • BYU vs. UTSA

LendingTree Bowl (Dec. 18)

  • South Alabama vs. Kent State

L.A. Bowl (Dec. 18)

  • Oregon vs. San Diego State

New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 18)

  • Marshall vs. Louisiana

Myrtle Beach Bowl (Dec. 20)

  • App State vs. Tulsa

Potato Bowl (Dec. 21)

  • Nevada vs. Miami (Ohio)

Frisco Bowl (Dec. 21)

  • SMU vs. Coastal Carolina

Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 22)

  • Army vs. Washington State

Gasparilla Bowl (Dec. 23)

  • Temple vs. UAB

Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 24)

  • Fresno State vs. UCF

Camellia Bowl (Dec. 25)

  • Troy vs. Eastern Michigan

Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 27)

  • Northwestern vs. Western Michigan

Military Bowl (Dec. 27)

  • Memphis vs. Virginia Tech

Birmingham Bowl (Dec. 28)

  • East Carolina vs. Liberty

First Responder Bowl (Dec. 28)

  • TCU vs. Northern Illinois

Liberty Bowl (Dec. 28)

  • Baylor vs. Tennessee

Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28)

  • Virginia vs. USC

Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Dec. 28)

  • Texas Tech vs. Maryland

Fenway Bowl (Dec. 29)

  • Houston vs. N.C. State

Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 29)

  • Boston College vs. Minnesota

Cheez-It Bowl (Dec. 29)

  • Wake Forest vs. Iowa State

Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29)

  • Oklahoma State vs. Arizona State

Duke’s Mayo Bowl (Dec. 30)

  • Clemson vs. Arkansas

Music City Bowl (Dec. 30)

  • Mississippi State vs. Wisconsin

Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 30)

  • Purdue vs. UCLA

Gator Bowl (Dec. 31)

  • North Carolina vs. Florida

Sun Bowl (Dec. 31)

  • Louisville vs. Oregon State

Arizona Bowl (Dec. 31)

  • Utah State vs. Central Michigan

Outback Bowl (Jan. 1)

  • Penn State vs. Texas A&M

Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1)

  • Michigan State vs. Auburn

Texas Bowl (Jan. 4)

  • Texas vs. LSU