Brett McMurphy’s College Football Bowl Projections: Dec. 20

Last updated Dec. 20 at 3:48 p.m. ET

Because of multiple teams opting out of playing in a bowl this season, there will be three bowls canceled on Sunday, sources told Stadium. The bowls not expected to be played are the Military, Guaranteed Rate and Independence, sources said.

Entering this weekend, there were 32 bowls remaining; 11 previously had been canceled. But recent decisions by several teams – including Nebraska, Penn State, USC and Arizona State – to decline a bowl bid will cause more cancelations.

Stadium is projecting only 58 teams will accept a bid – 31 Power Five teams, 24 Group of Five teams and three Independents – for only 29 bowl games this season.

Because several teams opted out of playing in a bowl game, BYU, Liberty, and the Sun Belt conference had discussions about playing in two bowls this season to help fill each bowl game, but ultimately the schools chose not to for various reasons, sources told Stadium. That’s how desperate bowls were to secure teams, but it’s doubtful the NCAA would have allowed it to happen even if any teams would have agreed to play in multiple bowls.

With the opts outs, only two Pac-12 teams – Oregon and Colorado – will be playing in a bowl game. Also, only six of 15 ACC teams will play, even though NCAA rules this year allowed any team regardless of win-loss record to play in a bowl game. The common thread among teams opting out was a fatigue about playing this season impacted by COVID and a desire to be able to return home to see family.

“This has been a challenging nine months, but we are proud of how our student-athletes have navigated these difficult times,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “As you know, we rely on our captains and Leadership Council to provide a voice for our team, and our student-athletes made the difficult choice not to participate in a bowl this year in order to spend time with loved ones.”

Entering Sunday’s official announcement, I’m projecting the College Football Playoff field to consist of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame. The committee will give Notre Dame the slight nod over Texas A&M.

Here are my latest projections.

College Football Playoff

ChampionshipJan. 11 (CFP semifinal winners)
Projection: Alabama vs. Clemson

Arlington, TXJan. 1 (CFP semifinal)
Projection: Alabama (No. 1 seed) vs. Notre Dame (No. 4 seed)

Sugar Bowl – Jan. 1 (CFP semifinal)
Projection: Clemson (No. 2 seed) vs. Ohio State (No. 3 seed)

New Year’s 6 Bowls

Orange BowlJan. 2 (ACC vs. SEC/Big Ten)
Projection: North Carolina vs. Texas A&M

Fiesta BowlJan. 2 (at-large vs. at-large)
Projection: Oregon vs. Iowa State

Peach BowlJan. 1 (at-large vs. at-large)
Projection: Georgia vs. Cincinnati*

Cotton BowlDec. 30 (at-large vs. at-large)
Projection: Oklahoma vs. Florida

Other Bowls

Gator BowlJan. 2 (ACC vs. SEC)
Projection: NC State vs. Kentucky

Outback BowlJan. 2 (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Northwestern vs. Missouri

Birmingham BowlJan. 1 (AAC vs. SEC)
Projection: Tulsa vs. Liberty

Citrus BowlJan. 1 (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Indiana vs. Auburn

Arizona BowlDec. 31 (MAC vs. Mountain West)
Projection: Ball State vs. San Jose State

Armed Forces BowlDec. 31 (SEC vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Mississippi State vs. Boise State

Liberty BowlDec. 31 (Big 12 vs. SEC)
Projection: West Virginia vs. Arkansas

Texas BowlDec. 31 (Big 12 vs. SEC)
Projection: TCU vs. Ole Miss

Duke’s Mayo BowlDec. 30 (ACC vs. Big Ten)
Projection: Wake Forest vs. Wisconsin

Music City BowlDec. 30 (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Projection: Iowa vs. Tennessee

Alamo BowlDec. 29 (Big 12 vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Texas vs. Colorado

Cheez-It BowlDec. 29 (ACC vs. Big 12)
Projection: Miami vs. Oklahoma State

Military BowlDec. 28 (ACC vs. AAC)
Projection: Not official, but could be among bowl games not played.

Cure BowlDec. 26 (C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Army vs. Coastal Carolina

First Responder BowlDec. 26 (Big 12 vs. Group of 5)
Projection: Louisiana vs. UTSA

Gasparilla BowlDec. 26 (ACC vs. SEC)
Projection: UAB vs. South Carolina

Guaranteed Rate BowlDec. 26 (Big Ten vs. Big 12)
Projection: Not official, but could be among bowl games not played.

Independence BowlDec. 26 (Army vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Not official, but could be among bowl games not played.

LendingTree Bowl Dec. 26 (MAC/C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State

Camellia BowlDec. 25 (MAC vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Buffalo vs. Marshall

New Mexico BowlDec. 24 (Mountain West vs. Group of 5)
Projection: Hawaii vs. Houston

**Montgomery BowlDec. 23 (Group of 5)
Projection: Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic

New Orleans BowlDec. 23 (C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: Louisiana Tech vs. Georgia Southern

Boca Raton BowlDec. 22 (ACC vs. AAC)
Projection: BYU vs. UCF

Idaho Potato BowlDec. 22 (AAC vs. Mountain West)
Projection: Tulane vs. Nevada

Myrtle Beach BowlDec. 21 (C-USA vs. Sun Belt)
Projection: North Texas vs. Appalachian State

Bowls that have been canceled this year:
•Bahamas Bowl
•Fenway Bowl
•Frisco Bowl
•Hawaii Bowl
•Holiday Bowl
•Las Vegas Bowl
•Los Angeles Bowl
•Redbox Bowl
•Pinstripe Bowl
•Quick Lane Bowl
•Sun Bowl

Teams in bold have already officially accepted bid.

*The highest rated champion from the Group of Five conferences (American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt) will be selected to play in either the Cotton, Fiesta or Peach Bowl.

**Replacing Fenway Bowl for this season only.