College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (2024)

Early pairings for every bowl matchup this season, including the expanded College Football Playoff.

Brad Crawford

With College Football Playoff expansion here ahead of the 2024 season along with widespread changes across thepower conferences, this fall is going to be exciting as the sport's bowlschedule takes a major turn. We've updated our summer bowl projections for every matchup ahead of various media days next month in anticipation of fall camp beginning a few weeks from now.

Bowl tie-ins, unless there are contractual obligations, could change significantly based on how ESPN sees fit. For instance,with the Pac-12 no more, there are still six games with affiliations through the 2025 season and they are the Holiday, Alamo, Vegas, Los Angeles, Sun and Independence.Expect those tie-ins to remain despite the league dissolving with teams leaving for the Big Ten, ACC and Big 12, respectively. What's left of thePac-12 — in other words,Washington State and Oregon State — will remain eligible for Pac-12 bowls if each hit the six-win plateau along with the teams who left for other leagues.

Despite severalcollege football bowl season tie-ins in flux ahead of the 2024 season, the Alamo Bowl's request to include SEC-bound Texas or Oklahoma in its 2024 or 2025 games was denied, according toThe Action Network's Brett McMurphy. Alamo Bowl reps requested the Longhorns or Sooners as possible replacements for the now-defunct Pac-12 tie-in, but contractually, that isn't going to work out.

Get the latest football and basketball transfer portal news from 247Sports.

That said, projections this time of year are always fun, so let's get to it:

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (2)

68 VenturesBowl

Projection: Arkansas State vs.Bowling Green

On one of college football's hot seats heading into the 2023 campaign, Butch Jones responded with a bowl appearance last fall. Now, he's hoping to take the Red Wolves to a winning campaign for the first time in his tenure, doing so in a league that's top-heavy with Appalachian State, Texas State and JMU in the Sun Belt — all projected bowl teams, by the way.

ArizonaBowl

Projection:Colorado State vs. Central Michigan

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (3)

Armed ForcesBowl

Projection:Air Force vs.West Virginia

The Big 12 is wide open this season and the Mountaineers are a team capable of causing havoc in the league standings with Garrett Greene at quarterback. And what happens if West Virginia opens the season with an upset win over Penn State? That would thrust this program into the top 25 and put the rest of the country on notice that Neal Brown's veteran-laden squad is ready to compete with the best.

BahamasBowl

Projection:Old Dominion vs. Eastern Michigan

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (4)

BirminghamBowl

Projection: Florida vs. Tulane

Can Billy Napier surprise everyone with a .500 finish against college football's toughest schedule to secure a bowl berth? He'll have to pile up as many wins as possible early on given the brutality of the final five weeks of the slate — Georgia, Texas, LSU, Ole Miss and Florida State. That is murderer's row in the SEC followed up with a rivalry finale against the preseason ACC favorites.

Cure Bowl

Projection:Memphis vs. Miami (Ohio)

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (5)

CamelliaBowl

Projection:Toledo vs.Louisiana

Somehow, Toledo has been able to hold onto coach Jason Candle in recent years despite interest from several major program vacancies. The Rockets went 11-3 last fall as with an unbeaten regular season against MAC competition, the losses coming to Illinois, Miami of Ohio in the league title game and Wyoming in a bowl setting. The roster changes considerably in 2024, but Toledo should still be one of the best Group of Five teams.

Potato Bowl

Projection: UTSA vs. Western Michigan

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (6)

First ResponderBowl

Projection:UCF vs.North Carolina

Chip Lindsey, who worked under Gus Malzahn at UCF in 2022, could match up with his former program during bowl season should this matchup come to fruition. UCF has more firepower returning offensively in the Big 12 and this could be the final season at UNC for coach Mack Brown, who is nearing retirement. The Tar Heels have lost four consecutive bowl contests under Brown.

FriscoBowl

Projection: Wyoming vs. Rice

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (7)

FenwayBowl

Projection:USFvs.Duke

Keep an eye on USF in the American Athletic Conference this season. The Bulls play Alabama and Miami early, two likely preseason top 25 teams that are considerably more talented than any opponents Alex Golesh's squad will face over the rest of the schedule. USF will be battle-tested with an explosive offense led by Byrum Brown and capable of getting to the playoff if its runs the table post-Crimson Tide and Hurricanes.

HawaiiBowl

Projection:Fresno State vs. Jacksonville State

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (8)

Myrtle BeachBowl

Projection: James Madison vs.FAU

After Curt Cignetti bolted for the Indiana job and took several of JMU's top players with him, the Dukes are hungry to show they're still one of the Sun Belt's best this fall under new coach Bob Chesney. At FAU, former Houston and Texas coach Tom Herman aims at getting the Owls bowl-eligible in Year 2 on the job in Boca Raton.

Boca RatonBowl

Projection:BYU vs. Appalachian State

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (9)

Quick LaneBowl

Projection: Northern Illinois vs.Indiana

This one's a stretch, but projecting Cignetti in a bowl game to cap his first season as the Hoosiers' head coach would be a sizable win for Indiana's football program. In fact, Indiana's last bowl victory came in 1991 (Copper Bowl). And the Hoosiers have lost their last four bowl games dating back to 2015 by a combined 12 points. The Hoosiers' roster is portal-infused and Cignetti was one of this cycle's top hires.

New OrleansBowl

Projection:Marshall vs. Western Kentucky

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (10)

Los AngelesBowl

Projection: Cal vs. Boise State

With Jaydn Ott returning at running back ahead of Cal's first season in the ACC, this should be a bowl team — even if the win total only hits the bare minimum. There's a couple swing games on the slate that will be all-important in getting to that threshold. As for Boise State, the early showdown at Oregon could catapult this team into the Group of Five's playoff conversation with a victory.

New MexicoBowl

Projection: Texas State vs. UNLV

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (11)

MilitaryBowl

Projection:UAB vs.Georgia Tech

As the saying goes, there's no bigger jump for a coaching staff in transition than Year 1 to Year 2, so we're going with Trent Dilfer and the Blazers showing positive strides here as a 6-6 finisher in getting to bowl eligibility. Expectations are a good bit higher for the Yellow Jackets, who welcome back Haynes King, the former Texas A&M signal-caller who tossed a career-best 27 touchdowns in his first campaign at Georgia Tech last fall.

PinstripeBowl

Projection: SMUvs. Minnesota

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (12)

Las VegasBowl

Projection: Texas A&M vs. Arizona

Ready for fireworks out West? This matchup between a couple borderline top 25 teams would surely bring the goods if it happens. Quarterback Noah Fifita is back for the Wildcats as they enter the Big 12 under first-year coachBrent Brennanwhile another new era commences in College Station with Mike Elko taking over.

GasparillaBowl

Projection:South Carolina vs.Boston College

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (13)

Guaranteed RateBowl

Projection: Rutgers vs. Texas Tech

Two teams with in-house expectations higher than the offseason love they're receiving nationally, the Scarlet Knights and Red Raiders feel good about their dark-horse chances as upper-tier finishers in their respective conferences this fall. Hovering around eight wins has been the norm for Joey McGuire at Texas Tech while Greg Schiano is coming off his first winning season at Rutgers since returning to the program in 2020.

IndependenceBowl

Projection: Oregon State vs. Army

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (14)

MayoBowl

Projection: Syracuse vs. Wisconsin

There's a good chance Fran Brown and the Orange get to the postseason if they're able to win three of their first four games this season. It's a schedule conducive to success in the ACC since it doesn't include matchups with Clemson or Florida State. At Wisconsin, Luke Fickell strives to avoid disappointment once more with the Badgers, who get Alabama early and play several other national title contenders in 2024.

LibertyBowl

Projection:Houston vs. Kentucky

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (15)

HolidayBowl

Projection: Virginia Tech vs.Nebraska

Two programs on the rise under their respective coaches, Virginia Tech is one of the most veteran-heavy teams in the power conference ranks this fall while the Huskers are giving the keys to five-star true freshman quarterback Dylan Raiola following a momentous offseason. Can the Huskers handle the hype and will the Hokies take advantage of a favorable slate in the ACC? These are questions that will need to be answered to reach one of the top non-New Year's Six games.

Music City Bowl

Projection: Oklahoma vs. Washington

SunBowl

Projection:Louisvillevs. TCU

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (16)

Pop-TartsBowl

Projection: Utah vs. Clemson

The Utes and Tigers have never met on the gridiron, so needless to say this would be one of bowl season's most-anticipated matchups outside of the College Football Playoff. It would also mean organizers in Orlando lobbied for both selections, high-end finishers in the Big 12 and ACC not quite good enough to be voted in the playoff. Utah is one of the trendy picks to win the Big 12, but few are taking Clemson to unseat Florida State at the top of the ACC.

Alamo Bowl

Projection: Oklahoma State vs. USC

TexasBowl

Projection: Kansas vs. Auburn

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (17)

Citrus Bowl

Projection:Missouri vs. Michigan

Could two 10-win teams fail to reach the playoff this season? Expect a bunch of arguing from the Tigers and Wolverines if that's the case in what we expect to be a SEC and Big Ten-dominated field. We're expecting the Citrus Bowl to get first dibs on the elites outside of that top 12. Michigan is coming off a perfect season and national championship, but has to play Texas early before another gauntlet of a schedule. By comparison, Missouri has it much easier relative to most other SEC slates.

ReliaQuest Bowl

Projection:Tennessee vs. Iowa

Gator Bowl

Projection:NC State vs. LSU

CFB Playoff (first round)

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (18)

No. 12 Liberty at No. 5 Oregon

Not bad for a first-year finish in the Big Ten for the Ducks, right? Meanwhile, Jamey Chadwell and the Flames have to endure this all over again after a second-straight unbeaten regular season.

No. 11 Notre Dame at No. 6 Texas

Face it — the Fighting Irish have an annual yellow brick road to the playoff with the schedule they face every year compared to roster talent. The Longhorns get the SEC's second-highest seed as the league's runner-up (projected).

No. 10Miami at No. 7 Ole Miss

One of three projected home games for SEC teams during the first round of the expanded playoffs, this would mark Lane Kiffin's biggest as a head coach to date against surprise ACC runner-up Miami.

No. 9Alabama at No. 8Penn State

This one feels gargantuan between two bloods. How difficult will a December whiteout in Happy Valley be for the Crimson Tide?

CFB Playoff (quarterfiinals)

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (19)

No. 1Ohio State vs. No. 9 Alabama (Sugar Bowl)

The last two times these two titans have played, a national championship was decided in one (2020) and a trip to the finale in the other (2014).

No. 2Georgiavs. No. 7 Ole Miss (Rose Bowl)

These teams will have already played a few weeks earlier in Oxford, with the Rebels (projected) avenging last year's loss to the Bulldogs in Athens. But it's hard to beat an elite team twice.

No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 6 Texas (Peach Bowl)

The Seminoles, as the projected ACC champions, are anxious to show the committee they were deserving of a bid last year.

No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 5 Oregon (Fiesta Bowl)

Pick any of five teams from the Big 12 out of a hat this summer and there's your conference champion. This week, it's the Wildcats.

CFB Playoff (semifinals)

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (20)

No. 1Ohio State vs. No. 5 Oregon (Orange Bowl)

We can hear the complaining now. Theoretically, college football fans could see Ohio State-Oregon three times this season. Unlikely, sure, but it's possible if both are as good as advertised as the Big Ten's two titans. Both recruited at an elite level this offseason and added several game-changing pieces in the transfer portal. This winner here puts Ryan Dayor Dan Lanning one victory shy of their firstnational championship.

No. 2Georgia vs. No. 6 Texas (Cotton Bowl)

There will be SEC rematches in the expanded playoff era. That's just how it is when as many as four or five teams from the same league find a way to the 12-team format. Kirby Smart wants changes to bowl season and he's not going to be pleased with facing the Longhorns again after beating them in Atlanta for the SEC championship a few weeks prior. It's hard to beat a team multiple times and this could be the third and final bout between these two heavyweights this season. Get your popcorn ready.

CFB Playoff National Championship

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (21)

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Georgia

Would there be any shock if the two most talented rosters in the country met in late January during college football's finale? These two programs battled two years ago in Atlanta during a terrific playoff semifinal game that catapulted former Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud toward the top of the 2023 NFL Draft. He gashed Georgia's secondary that evening, but it was the Bulldogs and former standout Stetson Bennett, who prevailed and moved on to the title game with a heroic second-half comeback.

College football bowl projections: 2024 preseason predictions, playoff picks (2024)

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