As the college football regular season enters its final weeks, the New Year’s Six (NY6) Bowl picture is beginning to come into view. After Week 10, which saw the teams ranked numbers one, four, and six lose, the field for the College Football Playoff field has shrunk considerably. With that being said, here are some predictions for the NY6 bowls.
Capital One Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Alabama
With both teams coming off of losses in Week 10, it looks as if both teams' CFP hopes are marginal at best. However, this Orange Bowl would be a treat for viewers, as it would feature a matchup between the two most dominant teams of the CFP era. In this scenario, both teams win out, with Clemson winning the ACC. This rematch of the 2016 and 2018 National Championship games could be the last chance for Alabama QB and last year’s Heisman winner Bryce Young to show scouts why he should be the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Allstate Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. TCU
After defeating Alabama and Ole Miss earlier in the season, LSU controls its own destiny towards a spot in the SEC Championship Game. In this scenario, they lose that game to Georgia but get to play this scenario’s Big 12 champion, TCU. TCU is all but a lock for the CFP if they win out, but faces three difficult opponents in their last three games. Looking ahead to the draft, wide receiver-needy NFL teams should pay close attention to this game, as Quentin Johnston from TCU and Kayshon Boutte from LSU are two of the best entering the pros in 2023.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl: Tulane vs. UCLA
Tulane represents the highest ranked Group of 5 (G5) team in the country as of right now, and there is a good chance they will end up as the highest ranked G5 team. UCLA’s outlook is a bit less clear, but they could be in cruise control towards the PAC-12 Championship, which in this scenario they lose to Oregon. Neither of these teams was ranked in the preseason top 25, so ending up in a NY6 Bowl is extremely impressive, win or lose.
Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. Oregon
Oregon, after getting blown out in Week 1 against Georgia, has seemingly become a different team since then, going 8-0 behind the Heisman level play of QB Bo Nix. Nix, once seen as the next great college QB, struggled to realize his potential at Auburn, but a transfer to Oregon has breathed new life into his career. Penn State has also impressed, as they led #2 Ohio State well into the fourth quarter in their Week 9 matchup. In this scenario, Oregon wins its third Pac-12 title in four years and Penn State wins its remaining games.
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: Georgia vs. Michigan
This rematch of last year's CFP Semi-Final, in which Georgia won 34-11 en route to a National Title, looks to be a much closer matchup. Georgia lost key players to the 2022 NFL Draft, but still features the MVP of last year's title game, Stetson Bennett, as well as phenom tight end Brock Bowers. Michigan’s offense has greatly improved behind running back Blake Corum, whom many consider to be the best collegiate running back, and quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who has been an upgrade over last year’s QB Cade McNamara. In this scenario, Georgia handily wins its remaining regular season games as well as the SEC Championship en route to a number one ranking, and Michigan is ranked number four after a close loss to bitter rival Ohio State.
Vrbo Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs. Tennessee
After a loss against Michigan last year knocked them out of CFP contention, Ohio State has been playing some of its best football in years. Not only do they boast the nation's number one offense, but their defense has finally recovered from losing former defensive coordinator and collector of your tuition money, Jeff Hafley, in 2019. Tennessee, on the other hand, boasts its best team in 25 years behind the number two offense in the nation. A loss at Georgia stung, but is still not enough to push the Volunteers out of the playoff picture. The story of this matchup will be the clash between the two Heisman favorites: OSU QB CJ Stroud and Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker. If both offenses perform to the peak of their abilities, this could be a shootout for the ages.
College Football Playoff National Championship: Georgia vs. Ohio State
Georgia will look to defend their title against Ohio State, who will be playing in their third playoff in four years. Although the game will be closer, Georgia vs. Michigan will have the same result as last year as Georgia has the more experienced roster, as well as championship pedigree. Ohio State will defeat Tennessee behind a more balanced offensive scheme, as well as a much better defense. With a victory, Georgia can substantiate the claim that they are the top dog in the SEC, not Alabama, while Ohio State looks for its first championship in the Ryan Day era.