Happy New Year, college football fans! There is not better way to kick off 2022 than five Jan. 1 college football bowl games that you can enjoy watching and even wager on, if that’s your thing. With three appropriately-named New Year’s Six bowl games set for a triple-header starting at 1 p.m. ET and lasting late until the evening, there will be no shortage of excitement across the first day of 2022.
The College Football Playoff finalists have been decided after a pair of exciting games Friday, and with the CFP National Championship more than a week away, plenty of attention can be paid to these 10 teams that have played tremendous football this past season. Among the huge programs in action are Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State and Ole Miss, but that’s not to short change anyone else.
Saturday’s finals will not only serve as cappers to the 2021 season but jumping off points for 2022 and beyond. Notre Dame, for example, will play its first game without Brian Kelly at the helm since 2009 as it starts a new era under Marcus Freeman. Oklahoma State lost its defensive coordinator, Jim Knowles, to Ohio State and will look to maintain its same dominant presence on that side of the ball.
While winning is all that matters for most, we care about whether these teams will cover their spreads. Be sure to stick with CBS Sports throughout the day for college football coverage from the opening kickoff onward. Let’s take a look at our expert picks for a loaded New Year’s Day as the 2021 season nears its conclusion.
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern
Outback Bowl: (21) Arkansas vs. Penn State
Latest Odds: Penn State Nittany Lions +3.5
Noon | ESPN2, fuboTV (Try for free) — When you consider the sheer number of bodies Penn State is missing for this game and the roles those missing players fill, it’s hard to go any direction other than Arkansas. Offensively, Jahan Dotson was the release valve for a PSU team that couldn’t run the ball. Defensively, it will be without the heart of the unit. While Treylon Burks is a terrific player and a massive loss for the Razorbacks, he’s a lot easier to replace than all the players the Nittany Lions won’t have in Tampa, so let’s not overthink this one. Prediction: Arkansas (+1) — Tom Fornelli
Citrus Bowl: (15) Iowa vs. (22) Kentucky
Latest Odds: Kentucky Wildcats -3
1 p.m. | ABC, fuboTV (Try for free) — Mark Stoops’ program just seems to be at a place where it’s a tough out in a bowl game. These two teams are built similarly and both want to win at the line of scrimmage, but I think the skill talent on Kentucky’s side is just a notch better, especially with the absence of running back Tyler Goodson for the Hawkeyes. Prediction: Kentucky (-3) — Chip Patterson
Fiesta Bowl: (5) Notre Dame vs. (9) Oklahoma State
Latest Odds: Notre Dame Fighting Irish +1
1 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) — Mike Gundy has been a great bowl coach, but I think there is a real juice around Marcus Freeman’s promotion, and Notre Dame will use this game as a showcase opportunity for the program’s future. Plus, with defensive coordinator Jim Knowles off to the same position at Ohio State, there is some shakeup on the Cowboys staff that should impact your play on the game. Prediction: Notre Dame (-2.5) — Chip Patterson
Rose Bowl: (6) Ohio State vs. (11) Utah
Latest Odds: Ohio State Buckeyes -4
5 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) — It’s not an easy game to figure out. Ohio State is missing a host of important players but still has one of the most talented rosters in the country. Even if the replacements are inexperienced, they’ve spent the last month practicing in their new roles and should be prepared. But we also saw the Buckeyes defense struggle against a physical team in Michigan, and this Utah team is just as tough as UM. So, I’m playing both sides a bit here. I think Ohio State wins the game more often than not, but I don’t think the Buckeyes can blow out these Utes — especially when you know Utah will be amped to play in its first Rose Bowl. So Bucks to win, Utes to cover. Prediction: Utah (+6.5) — Tom Fornelli
Sugar Bowl: (7) Baylor vs. (8) Ole Miss
8:45 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) — The game is ultimately a pick ’em after the line swung in Baylor’s direction. The battle will be a strength-on-strength, especially in the run game. However, if Baylor can keep track of Ole Miss’ skill talents, the Bears are poised to rumble their way to their first ever New Year’s Six bowl win. Prediction: Baylor (-1) — Shehan Jeyarajah
Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,600 in profit over the past five-plus seasons — and find out.