July 22, 2024

College football predictions for 2024 bowl games, 12-team playoff, national championship

The 12-team College Football Playoff changes the way we do bowl projections. 

It is more challenging than ever, but Sporting News took a first crack at projecting the 12-team College Football Playoff field – and the 35 other bowls that will be played during the 2024-25 college football season. 

Who will play in that first CFP championship game of the 12-team era? Most publications will go with Georgia and Ohio State in that spot. The Bulldogs are a composite No. 1 across eight major publications, and the Buckeyes return a loaded roster in 2024 that was bolstered by transfers Will Howard, Quinshon Judkins and Caleb Downs. 

How much will change with the new setup? These projections will alter throughout the season. Remember, bowl tie-ins and matchups often get tossed once the final matchups are set. 

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The first round of the new CFP will have one game on Friday, Dec. 20, and three on Saturday, Dec. 21. The quarterfinals will be played at the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 31), Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl (Jan. 1), Rose Bowl Game presented by Prudential (Jan. 1) and Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1). 

The semifinals will be played at the Capital One Orange Bowl (Jan. 9) and Cotton Bowl Classic (Jan. 10). The CFP national championship is Jan. 20 in Atlanta.

SN has projections for every bowl game here, and they will be updated throughout the season:

MORE: SN’s preseason Top 25 for 2024

College football bowl predictions 2024

There are 35 bowls involving FBS teams outside the College Football Playoff this season. A look at those matchups. 

Dec. 14 Camellia Bowl Georgia Southern vs. Miami, Ohio
Dec. 17 Boca Raton Bowl Texas State vs. South Florida
Dec. 18 Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl Coastal Carolina vs. Jacksonville State
Dec. 18 LA Bowl Hosted by Gronk Boise State vs. Oregon State
Dec. 19 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Appalachian State vs. Western Kentucky
Dec. 20 Staffdna Cure Bowl James Madison vs. Middle Tennessee State
Dec. 20 Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl Wake Forest vs. Tulane
Dec. 23 Myrtle Beach Bowl South Alabama vs. UAB
Dec. 23 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl San Diego State vs. Bowling Green
Dec. 24 Hawa’i Bowl UNLV vs. Louisiana Tech
Dec. 26 Detroit Bowl Ohio vs. Michigan State
Dec. 26 Guaranteed Rate Bowl Rutgers vs. West Virginia
Dec. 26 68 Ventures Bowl Troy vs. Western Michigan
Dec. 27 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl UCF vs. UTSA
Dec. 27 Birmingham Bowl Syracuse vs. Auburn
Dec. 27 Autozone Liberty Bowl Oklahoma State vs. Kentucky
Dec. 27 SDS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl TCU vs. Florida
Dec. 28 Wasabi Fenway Bowl Georgia Tech vs. Rice
Dec. 28 Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl Louisville vs. Maryland
Dec. 28 Isleta New Mexico Bowl Air Force vs. Northern Illinois
Dec. 28 Pop-Tarts Bowl Virginia Tech vs. Arizona
Dec. 28 Snoop Dogg Arizona Bowl presented by Gin & Juice Fresno State vs. Toledo
Dec. 28 Go Bowling Military Bowl SMU vs. Army
Dec. 28 Valero Alamo Bowl Kansas State vs. USC
Dec. 28 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Iowa State vs. Washington State
Dec. 30 Transperfect Music City Bowl Wisconsin vs. Tennessee
Dec. 31 Reliaquest Bowl Nebraska vs. Texas A&M
Dec. 31 Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl NC State vs. Colorado
Dec. 31 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl Penn State vs. LSU
Dec. 31 Texas Bowl Kansas vs. Missouri
Jan. 2 Taxslayer Gator Bowl North Carolina vs. Oklahoma
Jan. 3 Servpro First Responder Bowl Navy vs. Texas Tech
Jan. 3 Duke’s Mayo Bowl Miami vs. Iowa
Jan. 4 Bahamas Bowl Eastern Michigan vs. Liberty
TBD DirecTV Holiday Bowl Pitt vs. Washington

College Football Playoff first-round predictions 

A look at the four College Football Playoff first-round matchups for the 2024-25 season. Those first-round games will be played on campus: 

Dec. 20 First-Round CFP game No. 9 Clemson at No. 8 Alabama
Dec. 21 First-Round CFP game No. 12 Memphis at No. 5 Texas
Dec. 21 First-Round CFP game No. 10 Ole Miss at No. 7 Oregon
Dec. 21 First-Round CFP game No. 11 Michigan at No. 6 Notre Dame

Alabama and Clemson – which met in the four-team CFP era four times – fittingly start the 12-team CFP era in a battle of at-large teams. Dabo Swinney has to go to Tuscaloosa for that one. Memphis is the best bet to get the fifth automatic bid out of the American Athletic Conference. Oregon and Ole Miss would be a shootout, and the classic matchup between Notre Dame and Michigan – who holds off Penn State for a CFP berth – closes the first weekend. 

MORE: Carson Beck, Quinn Ewers lead list of Top 25 QBs

College Football Playoff quarterfinal predictions

A look at the College Football Playoff quarterfinal matchups for the 2024-25 season. Those games will be played at the traditional New Year’s Day Six bowl sites: 

Dec. 31 Vrbo Fiesta Bowl (quarterfinal) No. 3 Utah vs. No. 6 Notre Dame
Jan. 1 Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl (quarterfinal) No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 8 Alabama 
Jan. 1 Rose Bowl Game presented by Prudential (quarterfinal) No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 7 Oregon
Jan. 1 Allstate Sugar Bowl (quarterfinal) No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 5 Texas

Georgia, Ohio State, Utah and Florida State earn first-round byes by virtue of winning their respective Power 4 conferences. The Bulldogs get a second matchup with the Crimson Tide, and the Buckeyes and Ducks could meet for a third time in this situation. There would be more pressure on Florida State and Utah – the ACC and Big 12 champions – against at-large teams, especially if they are from the SEC and Big Ten. 

College Football Playoff semifinal predictions

A look at the College Football Playoff semifinal matchups for the 2024-25 season. Those games will be played at the traditional New Year’s Day Six bowl sites:  

Jan. 9 Capital One Orange Bowl (semifinal) No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 5 Texas
Jan. 10 Cotton Bowl Classic (semifinal) No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Notre Dame

Again, rematches will be a factor. Imagine if Georgia really does have to go through second (and possibly third) games with Alabama and Texas again just to get to a championship game. That is a potential flaw in this process. Ohio State and Notre Dame meet in a rematch of last year’s 17-14 slugfest in South Bend

College Football Playoff championship pick 

A look at the College Football Playoff championship matchup for the 2024-25 season. That game is scheduled for Jan. 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. 

Jan. 20 CFP National championship No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 2 Ohio State

Georgia beat Ohio State 42-41 on Dec. 31, 2022 in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl – a matchup the Buckeyes easily could have won. These are the two most-talented rosters in the FBS – the ones built to get through the extra playoff game. Will either team be unbeaten in this spot? Will this set the tone for continual No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in the future?