A healthy Ohio State matches up well against No. 1 Georgia as well as Oklahoma did against UGA in 2017. Marvin Harrison, Jr. against Kelee Ringo? Stetson Bennett in a pitcher’s duel with C.J. Stroud and Ryan Day vs. Kirby Smart? It all ought to be considerable fun.
What’s more? I doubt Day is going to squib kick to UGA up 17.
It’s going to be difficult for Ohio State to overcome the home-field advantage UGA will enjoy in Atlanta, but all the Buckeyes asked for was a chance to play in this game. They have it, and now they must seize it.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines have pounded on every team they’ve faced this season. Even without star running back Blake Corum in the backfield, the Michigan offensive line has dominated front sevens all year.
The No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs will have to summon more than guts to beat the most physical team they’ll face all year.
College Football Playoff: Can Ohio State beat Georgia?
RJ Young dives deep into the College Football Playoff semifinal matchups.
Here is the complete bowl schedule, with my analysis and picks included for every game.
For times, viewing information and a live scoreboard, click here.
Saturday, Dec. 31
TCU got to this game by showing guts. But Michigan knows what this atmosphere is like and is chasing glory.
A healthy Ohio State looks built to defeat a Georgia team that has been anything but infallible throughout its 2022 run.
Pick: Ohio State
Monday, Jan. 9
SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California
Georgia-Ohio State winner vs. Michigan-TCU winner, 7:30 p.m. ET
I’m projecting that this will be Ohio State vs. Michigan. The Game (again) but this time with a national title on the line. I love it.
Pick: Ohio State.
COMPLETE BOWL SCHEDULE
Friday, Dec. 16
RJ’s pick: UAB
Result: UAB wins, 24-20
RJ’s pick: UTSA
Result: Troy wins, 18-12
Saturday, Dec. 17
RJ’s pick: Louisville
Result: Louisville wins, 24-7
RJ’s pick: Jackson State
Result: North Carolina Central wins, 41-34
RJ’s pick: Oregon State
Result: Oregon State wins, 30-3
RJ’s Pick: Washington State
Result: Fresno State wins, 29-6
Following a 4-1 start, the Cougars looked like they were contending for a New Year’s Six Bowl bid only to lose their next four in a row. Now they’re riding a three-game winning streak, helped by running back Christopher Brooks, who has averaged 6.6 yards per carry and posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances in BYU’s last two outings.
The Cougars will need Brooks if they hope to slow down Rhett Lashlee’s explosive Mustangs. Quarterback Tanner Mordecai threw for more 3,300 yards in the regular season including a performance against Houston where he threw for 379 pass yards and recorded 10 TDs — nine through the air — in SMU’s 77-63 win against Houston last month.
For Rice, this game is cause for celebration. The Owls are bowling for the first time since 2014, with an outstanding shot to finish the season without a losing record.
There is certainly reason to believe they can defeat the Golden Eagles, as they’re riding a two-game winning streak. But they’ll play a program that fought its way to 6-6 after winning just three games in 2021, and which had just 62 scholarship players when USM coach Will Hall arrived.
Pick: Southern Miss
The Broncos will walk into Frisco having won seven of their last eight games, but having lost 27-13 to UTEP. That’s the same UTEP the 7-6 Mean Green defeated 31-13 this season. The two programs are meeting for the first time since 2000, with the series tied 3-3.
Pick: North Texas
Monday, Dec. 19
No, there’s no typo here. That’s the UConn Huskies you see on the bowl calendar for the first time since 2015, with a chance at the program’s best finish since 2010 when the Huskies faced Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. But they’ll have to get past a sneaky-good Marshall team that beat Notre Dame in South Bend.
Tuesday, Dec. 20
Eastern Michigan stepped into the national spotlight when the Eagles upset Arizona State 30-21 this season. EMU seeks its first bowl victory (California Bowl) since 1987. That year the Eagles not only knocked off San Jose State 30-27, but won nine games. With a win against San Jose State, they’ll win nine games for the first time since — yup — 1987.
The Flames have never lost a bowl game and look to move to 4-0 with a win against the Rockets. But that might prove difficult with a new head coach — former Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell — taking the reins after Hugh Freeze accepted the head-coaching job at Auburn earlier this month.
And that’s before you find out Toledo is coming off winning their fourth MAC Championship in school history and are undefeated against Liberty, winning their last contest 35-34 on Oct. 6, 2007.
RELATED: How to bet Liberty-Toledo
Wednesday, Dec. 21
The Hilltoppers are looking for their ninth win of the season and are led by star quarterback Austin Reed, who has thrown for 4,200 yards and 36 TDs this season. But they’ll face Kane Wommack’s 10-2 Jaguars, who are a threat to win 11 games to cap off the best season USA has ever had.
Thursday, Dec. 22
Baylor will look to snap a three-game losing streak against one of the best rushing teams in the country — just three weeks after BU coach Dave Aranda let go his mentor and defensive coordinator Ron Roberts. The 9-3 Falcons average more than 330 yards on the ground and hold the ball for more than 36 minutes on average.
Friday, Dec. 23
Neither Louisiana nor Houston has competed in the Independence Bowl. The Ragin Cajuns are looking to finish the season with seven wins while Dana Holgorsen’s Cougars attempt to win their last game as members of the AAC. The Cougars have scored at least 30 points in 11 of 12 games. They might need to go 12 for 13. Louisiana beat Texas State 41-13 to become bowl-eligible.
This game will be the first-ever meeting between these two Power 5 programs. Missouri will look to summon the form it showed in a close contest loss to defending national champion Georgia in October, while quarterback Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons will look to earn eight wins for the third time in four years.
Pick: Wake Forest
Saturday, Dec. 24
The Blue Raiders beat Miami earlier this year — put the money in the bag — and finished third in C-USA this season. Senior defensive end Jordan Ferguson will be one to watch after amassing 63 tackles, including 16 for loss and nine sacks.
Monday, Dec. 26
The Aggies face a Falcons team that posted its best finish (6-6) since 2015. NMSU coach Jerry Kill also looks to win a bowl game as a head coach for the first time in his 32-year career.
Tuesday, Dec. 27
The Eagles upset Nebraska earlier this season in Clay Helton’s Year 1 but, like Buffalo, are 6-6. This game is purely for the right to claim a winning season by the New Year. The game also features two outstanding defenders in Georgia Southern linebacker Marques Watson-Trent, who has notched 105 tackles, and Buffalo’s Shaun Dolac, who has 134.
Pick: Georgia Southern
With early losses to Alabama and Weber State, Aggies hardly looked like a bowl team. But Blake Anderson’s squad finished 6-6 with a chance to go out with a win against Ryan Silverfield’s Tigers, whose best win this season came against UNT.
Pick: Utah State
After playing for the Sun Belt title, the 9-3 Chants will look to finish their season strong with a win against the Pirates. But with Chadwell accepting the head coach position at Liberty the program could be in flux enough ECU to pick off the Chants.
After looking like the class of the Big 12, the Pokes fell short of their expectations to return to the Big 12 title game. Now they face a great challenge in Wisconsin. Though Luke Fickell has been named head coach, it’s defensive savant Jim Leonhard who should be the worry for Mike Gundy’s squad.
Wednesday, Dec. 28
The Knights fell just short of playing in the Cotton Bowl with their loss to Tulane in the AAC title game. They’ll look to finish on a high against Mike Elko’s Duke squad, which exceeded expectations by becoming bowl-eligible before Thanksgiving.
The Jayhawks are not unlike the Razorbacks were a year ago — on the come-up. While KU has a ways to go, they’re bowling for the first time and looking for their first winning season since 2008. This marks just the second time KU (6-6) has made a Liberty Bowl appearance against an Arkansas (6-6) team looking to finish the season with a winning record — just like the Jayhawks.
The Tar Heels were once a favorite to defeat Clemson for their first conference title in 40 years, but they fell short — again. UNC has lost their last three games in a row, but they’ll get an Oregon team in transition.
Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham is set to take over as head coach at Arizona State in 2023, and UNC might take advantage of a program still sorting through its coaching staff. However, the Ducks will be prepared defensively to meet the challenge Drake Maye and the UNC offense present.
In Year 1, Joey McGuire not only beat Texas and Oklahoma but has a chance to avenge the Red Raiders’ 20-point loss to the Rebels in 2018. With a win, the Red Raiders can earn their first eight-win season since Baker Mayfield quarterbacked the team in 2013.
Pick: Texas Tech
Thursday, Dec. 29
This game could feature two of the best tailbacks in the country in Mohamed Ibrahim and Sean Tucker — if they play. Ibrahim has been otherworldly in the backfield for Minnesota, rushing for 1,494 yards — averaging more than 144 rush yards a game — and the engine that makes P.J. Fleck’s offense go.
Oklahoma lost four of its six games by a single score and three by a field goal. If the offense and defense can play well in the same game, they ought to match up well against Mike Norvell’s FSU.
RELATED: How to bet Oklahoma-Florida State
With Washington possessing one of the best passing offenses in the country and two former UW coaches — including one head coach in Steve Sarkisian — on the UT sideline, this game should mean a bit more to each party. Even if it doesn’t, Michael Penix Jr. and Bijan Robinson — if they play — are worth a watch.
Friday, Dec. 30
Without Devin Leary, the Wolfpack took a step back. And Mike Locksley’s Maryland has played great, gutsy football all season. The Terps should handle their one-time ACC foe.
With Dorian Thompson-Robinson headed to the NFL, Chip Kelly’s Bruins will be without their first five-year starter against a Panther team that possesses one of the best running backs in the country in Israel Abanikanda.
The Gamecocks have been giant-killing in their last two outings — knocking off both Orange Bowl participants (Tennessee and Clemson) in back-to-back weeks. With ND quarterback Drew Pyne entering the transfer portal, ND will have to show up tough if it doesn’t want it to end up a pelt on the South Carolina hunting room wall.
Pick: South Carolina
It might be difficult for UW to overcome the loss of Titus Swen, who became just the 12th player in history to rush for 1,000 yards at the program that gave the NFL Buffalo Bills star Josh Allen. Ohio ought to be mad after falling short of winning the MAC title against Toledo and take it all out on the Pokes.
Could there be more orange in the Orange Bowl? Hardly. The Vols and Tigers will meet to find out who will likely roll into the 2023 offseason not only with a New Year’s Six bowl win.
Saturday, Dec. 31
This game is about Bryce Young — his absence or his presence. If the 2021 Heisman winner plays, Alabama ought to challenge the Big 12 champs. If he doesn’t, K-State should beat back-to-back SEC West opponents in bowl games marking their best season in Manhattan since 2012.
Pick: Kansas State
If you told me the over/under in this game was 10, I’d believe you. These teams play great defense and are anemic — sometimes dead in the case of Iowa — on offense. But the Hawkeyes are feeling good about earning the commitment of former Michigan quarterback and Big Ten champion Cade McNamara heading into 2023.
Meanwhile, UK will play without NFL Draft-bound Will Levis.
Monday, Jan. 2
This game should be one hell of a fight. Illini coach Bret Bielema would run the ball on every play if he thought it could help him win, and Bulldogs coach Mike Leach won’t run it until he knows it can help him win. But the Illini hold the ball and play stifling defense. Leach is gonna need his best players to play like his best if they’re to win.
The Boilermakers have a chance to earn their ninth win this season with a win against the SEC West champs. But the Bayou Bengals looked lethal through the air with Garrett Nussmeier at quarterback against Georgia, and he’ll be a threat in this battle for bragging rights between the nation’s two best conferences.
With Lincoln Riley detailing the severity of star quarterback Caleb Williams’ hamstring injury, it’s an open question as to whether he’ll play against the Green Wave. Tulane, who has played its best season since 1998 and won the American Athletic Conference crown, might not care either way. They’re just that good.
Utah is the closest thing on the West Coast to a bona fide no-nonsense Big Ten squad. The Utes possess an outstanding offensive line and want to own the line of scrimmage — just like Penn State.
The Nittany Lions will play without star corner Joey Porter Jr. and wide receiver Parker Washington against Kyle Whittingham, Cam Rising and the Utes in a game Utah fell just short of winning against Ohio State last year. This year they’ll look to finish what they started.
Top stories from FOX Sports:
RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The Number One College Football Show.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.
Get more from College Football Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more