ESPN releases College Football Playoff and full bowl projections following Week 1

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham09/05/23


J.D. PicKell's College Football Playoff Predictions

Week 1 of the 2023 college football season is in the books and save for a beatdown from one Top 10 team to another, the picture atop the sport remains relatively unchanged. So, too, do ESPN’s bowl projections, namely the College Football Playoff projections.

ESPN college football writers Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach took another look at the four-team CFP field and the rest of the bowls, New Years Six or otherwise after the first full week of the schedule wrapped up. Between the two, only five teams were included between their respective playoff fields.

Check out the full College Football Playoff and bowl projections from ESPN below.

CFP National Championship

CFP National Championship
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

CFP National Championship
NRG Stadium (Houston)
Jan. 8, 7:30 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Georgia vs. Alabama
Schlabach: Georgia vs. Michigan

Nothing that happened in Week 1 changed what Schlabach and Bonagura think of a potential national title. Georgia and Michigan both took some time to get into gear but ultimately cruised and Jalen Milroe looked electric for Alabama in his debut as, potentially, the full-time starter.

Things ramp up for the Crimson Tide in Week 2 with Texas coming to Tuscaloosa, while the Bulldogs and Wolverines host Ball State and UNLV, respectively.

Rose Bowl (CFP semifinal)

Rose CFP
Robert Franklin-USA TODAY Sports

Rose Bowl
Rose Bowl (Pasadena, California)
Jan. 1, 5 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Florida State vs. Alabama
Schlabach: Michigan vs. USC

Alabama and Florida State have played just four times in their history, with the Crimson Tide winning the most recent bout, 24-7, in 2017. A Rose Bowl reprise of that matchup could be a mega game in the College Football Playoff.

Michigan and USC, on the other hand, have played in seven Rose Bowls prior to the 2023 season. A playoff edition of the matchup would be a massive draw in its own right.

Allstate Sugar Bowl (CFP semifinal)

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Sugar Bowl
Caesars Superdome (New Orleans)
Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Georgia vs. Michigan
Schlabach: Georgia vs. Florida State

After Week 1, the respective playoff fields from Schlabach and Bonagura include just five total teams: Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan and USC. There are differences in how the seeding and matchups might shake out, but after a week (and some change) of action, it’s this quintet that stands out for the ESPN writers.

Some other squads in Seattle, Happy Valley, Austin and Columbus might have something to say about joining the action, too.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Dec. 29, 8 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: USC vs. Kansas State
Schlabach: Texas vs. Ohio State

According to Bonagura, USC might be back in the Cotton Bowl for a second-straight season and would yet again be playing a physical team that wants to live by pounding the ball on the ground. It bit the Trojans last season with a loss to Tulane and the Wildcats are probably a notch or two better.

But a Buckeyes-Longhorns showdown in Dallas would stand a chance to be the biggest non-playoff bowl game by a pretty wide margin. Texas likely would be Big 12 champions in this scenario, while Ohio State fans might be fuming about missing the College Football Playoff.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

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Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)
Dec. 30, noon, ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Tennessee vs. Tulane
Schlabach: Notre Dame vs. Alabama

An appearance in a New Years Six bowl, in his second season would be a big step for Marcus Freeman after a topsy-turvy first year. A chance to test his Irish program against the Alabama measuring stick could serve Freeman well heading into his third season.

And following a long fallow period, back-to-back New Years Six bowls for Tennessee is an accomplishment that might only be overshadowed by Willie Fritz and Tulane making a second-straight New Years Six game after going 2-10 in 2021.

Capital One Orange Bowl

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Capital One Orange Bowl
Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Florida)
Dec. 30, 4 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Schlabach: North Carolina vs. Penn State

An Ohio State-Notre Dame rematch in a neutral setting in Florida would, like the Longhorns and Buckeyes, be a contender for one of the best non-CFP games. Whether or not it’s a rubber match or if the Buckeyes play for a sweep since the 2022 opener hinges on Week 4 in South Bend.

While he might be a draft opt out, North Carolina legacy and potential No. 1 overall pick Drake Maye vs. the up-and-coming talent of Drew Allar could produce offensive fireworks on New Years Eve, even if the Nittany Lions are miffed by missing the College Football Playoff.

VRBO Fiesta Bowl

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl
State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Arizona)
Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App
Bonagura: Utah vs. Penn State
Schlabach: Washington vs. Tulane

A 2023 Rose Bowl rematch could be in the offing if Bonagura’s prediction holds, but the Schlabach projection of Washington and Tulane could be big stage for final NFL auditions from Michael Pratt and Michael Penix Jr.

Be it Penn State and Utah showcasing bruising offenses or the Huskies and Green Wave, both matchups would be ideal pre-College Football Playoff watching.

Remaining bowl game projections

Saturday, Dec. 16
Bahamas Bowl
Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium (Nassau, Bahamas)
11 a.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Miami (Ohio) vs. Liberty
Schlabach: Eastern Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee State

Cricket Celebration Bowl
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)
Noon, ABC and the ESPN App
Bonagura: Florida A&M vs. North Carolina Central
Schlabach: Florida A&M vs. North Carolina Central

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Caesars Superdome (New Orleans)
2:15 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Western Kentucky vs. Marshall
Schlabach: Louisiana Tech vs. Troy

Cure Bowl
Exploria Stadium (Orlando, Florida)
3:30 p.m., ABC and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Georgia Southern vs. Rice
Schlabach: Appalachian State vs. UAB

New Mexico Bowl
University Stadium (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
5:45 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Troy vs. San Jose State
Schlabach: New Mexico State vs. San Diego State

LA Bowl
SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, California)
7:30 p.m., ABC and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Colorado vs. Fresno State
Schlabach: UCLA vs. Boise State

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl
Independence Stadium (Shreveport, Louisiana)
9:15 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: BYU vs. UCLA
Schlabach: Iowa State vs. California

Monday, Dec. 18
Myrtle Beach Bowl
Brooks Stadium (Conway, South Carolina)
2:30 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Middle Tennessee State vs. Coastal Carolina
Schlabach: Tulsa vs. Georgia Southern

Tuesday, Dec. 19
Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl
Toyota Stadium (Frisco, Texas)
9 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Appalachian State vs. UNLV
Schlabach: Kansas vs. Air Force

Thursday, Dec. 21 Boca Raton Bowl
FAU Stadium (Boca Raton, Florida)
8 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: East Carolina vs. Ohio
Schlabach: East Carolina vs. South Alabama

Friday, Dec. 22
Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl
Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Florida)
6:30 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: SMU vs. Missouri
Schlabach: Army vs. Auburn

Saturday, Dec. 23
Birmingham Bowl
Protective Stadium (Birmingham, Alabama)
Noon, ABC and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Auburn vs. UAB
Schlabach: South Carolina vs. Florida Atlantic

Camellia Bowl
Cramton Bowl (Montgomery, Alabama)
Noon, ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: New Mexico State vs. Texas State
Schlabach: Marshall vs. Northern Illinois

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Amon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, Texas)
3:30 p.m., ABC and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Iowa State vs. Duke
Schlabach: UTSA vs. Western Kentucky

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Albertsons Stadium (Boise, Idaho)
3:30 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Northern Illinois vs. Wyoming
Schlabach: Buffalo vs. Wyoming

68 Ventures Bowl
Hancock Whitney Stadium (Mobile, Alabama)
7 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Louisiana vs. Louisiana Tech
Schlabach: Coastal Carolina vs. Toledo

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl
Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)
7:30 p.m., ABC and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Illinois vs. Oregon
Schlabach: Iowa vs. Oregon

EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl
Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex (Honolulu)
10:30 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: UTSA vs. San Diego State
Schlabach: Houston vs. Fresno State

Tuesday, Dec. 26
Quick Lane Bowl
Ford Field (Detroit)
2 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Rutgers vs. Toledo
Schlabach: Nebraska vs. Ohio

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Gerald J. Ford Stadium (Dallas)
5:30 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: TCU vs. Washington State
Schlabach: Oklahoma State vs. Washington State

Guaranteed Rate Bowl
Chase Field (Phoenix)
9 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Minnesota vs. Oklahoma State
Schlabach: Minnesota vs. UCF

Wednesday, Dec. 27
Military Bowl
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Annapolis, Maryland)
2 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Louisville vs. Florida Atlantic
Schlabach: Syracuse vs. Memphis

Duke’s Mayo Bowl
Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, North Carolina)
5:30 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Syracuse vs. Mississippi State
Schlabach: Duke vs. Kentucky

Holiday Bowl
Petco Park (San Diego)
8 p.m., Fox

Bonagura: Clemson vs. Oregon State
Schlabach: Pitt vs. Oregon State

TaxAct Texas Bowl
NRG Stadium (Houston)
9 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: UCF vs. Kentucky
Schlabach: TCU vs. LSU

Thursday, Dec. 28
Wasabi Fenway Bowl
Fenway Park (Boston)
11 a.m., ESPN and the ESPN App
Bonagura: Wake Forest vs. Memphis
Schlabach: Georgia Tech vs. SMU

Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl
Yankee Stadium (New York)
2:15 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: NC State vs. Michigan State
Schlabach: Wake Forest vs. Illinois

Pop-Tarts Bowl
Camping World Stadium (Orlando, Florida)
5:45 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: North Carolina vs. Texas
Schlabach: Miami vs. Kansas State

Valero Alamo Bowl
Alamodome (San Antonio)
9:15 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Oklahoma vs. Washington
Schlabach: Oklahoma vs. Utah

Friday, Dec. 29
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Florida)
Noon, ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Miami vs. Florida
Schlabach: NC State vs. Arkansas

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
Sun Bowl Stadium (El Paso, Texas)
2 p.m., CBS

Bonagura: Pitt vs. Cal
Schlabach: Louisville vs. Colorado

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium (Memphis, Tennessee)
3:30 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Cincinnati vs. Arkansas
Schlabach: Texas Tech vs. Mississippi State

Saturday, Dec. 30
TransPerfect Music City Bowl
Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tennessee)
2 p.m., ABC and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Maryland vs. Texas A&M
Schlabach: Maryland vs. Ole Miss

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl
Arizona Stadium (Tucson, Arizona)
4:30 p.m.

Bonagura: Buffalo vs. Boise State
Schlabach: Miami (Ohio) vs. San Jose State

Monday, Jan. 1
ReliaQuest Bowl
Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Florida)
Noon, ESPN2 and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Iowa vs. Ole Miss
Schlabach: Clemson vs. Tennessee

Cheez-It Citrus Bowl
Camping World Stadium (Orlando, Florida)
1 p.m., ABC and the ESPN App

Bonagura: Wisconsin vs. LSU
Schlabach: Wisconsin vs. Texas A&M