On the last day of 2021, we start the day with a couple of fun bowl matchups, and then we finally hit College Football Playoff time. Considering all the drama leading up to the selection of the final four, it seems clear that the teams selected are the best four in the country.
There is a lot of discussion about expanding the playoffs to include more teams. My opinion? It is completely unnecessary.
We know who the top two teams in the country are. Both Alabama and Georgia are big favorites in their semifinal matchups to prove that. Obviously, the games still need to be played, and anything can happen. But it’s a likelihood we see those two face off for the championship. Adding more games to get to that point seems unnecessary.
Alright, enough ranting from me. Let’s take a look at all of the New Year’s Eve Bowls and their respective devy prospects.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. #17 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
ESPN, Dec. 31 at 11:00 a.m. EST
To start off the day, we see Rutgers stepping in for Texas A&M to take on an electric Wake Forest team. The Demon Deacons fell to Pitt in the ACC championship but are still 10-3 on the season and average 41.2 points per game, primarily through the air. They should dominate the Scarlett Knights in this matchup, and Vegas agrees, as Wake Forest are 15-point favorites. The game total is set at 61.5
Sam Hartman leads the Demon Deacon pass attack. Hartman has been one of the best QBs in the country this year, throwing for 3,924 yards and 36 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. He also leads the team with 11 rushing touchdowns.
A.T. Perry will be his main target in this contest. Perry has caught 61 catches for 1166 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. He will stand out on screen, standing at 6-foot-5, and has great athleticism to go along with it.
Two-year starter Noah Vedral will oversee the Rutgers offense. Wide receiver Bo Melton will be a Senior Bowl attendee and is a good weapon. Keep an eye out for Gavin Wimsatt – he is a top quarterback recruit who graduated high school a year early to get to Rutgers as soon as possible. He is their future, and I would not be surprised to see him get some reps in this game.
Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Washington State Cougars
CBS, Dec. 31 at 12.00 p.m. EST
Next, we have Central Michigan recently pivoting from the Arizona Bowl to the Sun Bowl to match up against Washington State, as both teams’ former opponents had to pull out with COVID-19 issues. Washington State are considered 7.5 point favorites in this game, with a 57.5 game total.
Central Michigan’s offense is built around star running back Lew Nichols. Nichols leads the country with 1,710 rushing yards. He’s added another 300 yards in the air and 17 touchdowns to that.
At quarterback for the Chips is freshman Daniel Richardson. Richardson is undersized for the position at 5-foot-10 but has been very good since locking up the starting job early in the season, throwing for 2,424 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Kalil Pimpleton is Richardson’s favorite target, corralling 58 catches for 929 yards and four touchdowns. He has also returned two punts for touchdowns this year.
Jayden de Laura leads the way for the Cougs. The second-year quarterback has thrown for 2751 yards and 23 touchdowns on the season.
The ball gets spread around in this offense, with Calvin Jackson, Travell Harris, and DeZhaun Stribling catching over 40 passes. Stribling is a true freshman and is a name to keep an eye on for the future.
Washington State leading rusher Max Borghi has declared for the draft and is opting out of this game.
#4 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide
ESPN, Dec. 31 at 3:30 p.m. EST
The first national semifinal matchup is between SEC champions Alabama and AAC champions Cincinnati. The crimson Tide are coming in off their best win of the season, blowing out Georgia. Meanwhile, the Bearcats has yet to lose a game this year, although they certainly have not faced a team as good as Alabama. Vegas agrees, as Alabama are massive 13.5-point favorites to deal Cincinnati their first loss of the year. Both squads are flooded with future NFL talent of both sides of the ball. The game total for this matchup is 57.5.
Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder is a potential first round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Ridder has thrown for 3,190 yards and 30 touchdowns to eight interceptions on the year and has rushed for another 371 yards and six touchdowns. Ridder is big and athletic with a strong arm, but sometimes struggles with accuracy.
Alabama transfer Jerome Ford leads Cincinnati with 1,242 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. Ford is a tough runner and a home run hitter. He has three touchdowns of 70+ yards this season.
Alec Pierce leads the Bearcats receiving game. Pierce has recorded 50 catches, 867 yards, and eight touchdowns this year and is a likely day two pick in the draft. Tight end Josh Whyle has added six touchdowns as well.
Alabama quarterback winner Bryce Young has thrown for 4,322 yards and 43 touchdowns this year en route to winning the Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football. Young is only a true sophomore and is likely the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He is undersized, but has a zippy, accurate arm, and is very mobile.
Senior Brian Robinson is the Crimson Tide’s workhorse back. Robinson has rushed for 1071 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first season as the top back. Being a productive Bama back, he’ll have an NFL future.
Ohio State transfer Jameson Williams has exploded this year and will likely be a first-round pick in 2022. Williams has caught 68 passes for 1,445 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first season in Tuscaloosa. Normally, we would see John Metchie opposite of him, but Metchie tore his ACL in the SEC Championship game. Look for touted freshman JaCorey Brooks to step into that role. He has flashed when given opportunities this year.
#3 Georgia Bulldogs vs. #2 Michigan Wolverines
ESPN, Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. EST
The second semifinal matchup will be a bruising affair won in the trenches between SEC runners-up Georgia and BIG10 champs Michigan. This will be a much more defensive game, with the game total down at 45.5 points. Before getting torn apart by Alabama, many were considering Georgia’s defense to be one of the best of all time. While that game probably ruined that potential label, the defense is still an embarrassment of riches, with every player a likelihood to be drafted when eligible. Because of that, Georgia, is given a 7.5 edge in this game according to Vegas.
Former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett is at the helm of the Bulldogs offense. Bennett’s arm is limited, but he does a good job getting the balls to his playmakers and letting them do the rest.
The best of those playmakers is true freshman tight end Brock Bowers. Bowers has put together an unprecedented first season, catching 47 passes for 791 yards and 11 touchdowns. Top wide receivers George Pickens and Jermaine Burton have been plagued by injuries all season, but both seem to finally be healthy.
The Georgia rushing attack is led by Zamir White and James Cook. White has 718 yards and ten touchdowns on the ground, and Cook has 619 yards and seven touchdowns. Cook is also a solid receiving threat, catching 21 balls for 157 yards and another three touchdowns.
Cade McNamara starts at quarterback for Michigan. He has been smart with the ball and gets the job done for the Wolverines run-oriented attack but is not much of a devy prospect. Freshman back-up JJ McCarthy, on the other hand, has a high celing, and gets a few reps in most games. Keep an eye out for him.
Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum spearhead the dangerous Michigan rushing attack. Haskins has recorded 1,288 yards and 20 touchdowns, and Corum has added 939 yards and 11 touchdowns. They are a very complementary pair, as Haskins is a big, bruising back, while Corum is small and speedy. Freshman Donovan Edwards could be the best devy running back prospect of them all and has flashed his playmaking ability as his reps have increased this year. He leads the backfield in receiving yards with 216.
Cornelius Johnson is Michigan’s top wide receiver. Johnson has put up 38 catches for 609 yards and three touchdowns this year.
- Bowl Game Previews: December 31 - December 31, 2021
- Bowl Game Previews: December 22 and 23 - December 22, 2021
- What if? 2022 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft: Round One - December 18, 2021