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
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.
Rose Bowl (CFP semifinal)
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
TaxAct Texas Bowl
NRG Stadium (Houston)
9 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App
Bonagura: UCF vs. Kentucky
Schlabach: TCU vs. LSU
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
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
Sun Bowl Stadium (El Paso, Texas)
2 p.m., CBS
Bonagura: Pitt vs. Cal
Schlabach: Louisville vs. Colorado
Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl
Arizona Stadium (Tucson, Arizona)
Bonagura: Buffalo vs. Boise State
Schlabach: Miami (Ohio) vs. San Jose State
Monday, Jan. 1
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