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College Football Playoff: Expert Predictions for Cotton and Orange Bowl Semifinals

The College Football Playoff for the 2021-22 season starts on Friday, Dec. 31 with Alabama and Cincinnati meeting in the Cotton Bowl and Michigan and Georgia facing off in the Orange Bowl. The Crimson Tide enter Friday's game as a double-digit favorite, while oddsmakers give the Bulldogs an edge by a touchdown. 

With the two playoff games just days away, it's time to make final predictions for the Cotton and Orange Bowls. Athlon's editors and writers make predictions and picks for the CFB Playoff semifinals:

College Football Playoff: Expert Predictions for Cotton and Orange Bowl Semifinals

Cotton Bowl - No. 1 Alabama (12-1) vs. No. 4 Cincinnati (13-0)

Alabama earned the No. 1 ranking for the CFB Playoff after its win over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide are led by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young at quarterback, with dynamic receiver Jameson Williams leading the way on the outside. However, the offense will miss receiver John Metchie III after he suffered a torn ACL in the SEC title game. The Crimson Tide are also holding opponents to just 20.2 points a game. Cincinnati is the first Group of 5 team to make the CFB Playoff, but coach Luke Fickell's team will have to play a perfect game in order to upset Alabama. However, the Bearcats have a veteran defense and a dynamic quarterback (Desmond Ridder) in place, which gives Fickell's team a chance to hang around and make things interesting into the second half.

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Editor/ContributorTwitterWinnerScore

Steven Lassan

@AthlonSteven

Alabama

34-20

Mark Ross

@AthlonMarkR

Alabama

30-17

Ben Weinrib

@benweinrib

Alabama

31-13

Jon Kinne

@JonRKinne

Alabama

37-21

Rob McVey

@Rob_UTVOLS

Alabama

38-20

Chip Minnich

@ChipMinnich

Alabama

42-20

Gabe Salgado

@GabeSalgado82

Alabama

31-17

Eric Sorenson

@Stitch_Head

Cincinnati

45-41

Antwan Staley

@antwanstaley

Alabama

37-24

Aaron Tallent

@AaronTallent

Alabama

42-17

Scott Whittum

Alabama

34-17

Orange Bowl - No. 2 Michigan (12-1) vs. No. 3 Georgia (12-1)

While oddsmakers believe the Cotton Bowl will be a one-sided Alabama win, the spread for the Cotton Bowl has hovered around a touchdown. Close games rarely happen in the CFB Playoff, but Michigan and Georgia could give fans a four-quarter battle. Both teams are strong up front and feature some of the nation's top talent along the defensive line. The Bulldogs need better quarterback play out of Stetson Bennett to win the national title, while the Wolverines need a big day from Cade McNamara to have any shot at the win on Friday night. Whichever team owns the trenches and gets better (or mistake-free) play out of their quarterback should come out on top on Friday night.

Editor/ContributorTwitterWinnerScore

Steven Lassan

@AthlonSteven

Georgia

27-20

Mark Ross

@AthlonMarkR

Georgia

27-23

Ben Weinrib

@benweinrib

Georgia

27-20

Jon Kinne

@JonRKinne

Georgia

21-20

Rob McVey

@Rob_UTVOLS

Georgia

27-17

Chip Minnich

@ChipMinnich

Georgia

35-24

Gabe Salgado

@GabeSalgado82

Georgia

28-21

Eric Sorenson

 @Stitch_Head

Michigan

31-27

Antwan Staley

@antwanstaley

Michigan

34-31

Aaron Tallent

@AaronTallent

Georgia

21-10

Scott Whittum

Michigan

27-24