Welcome to Bowl Prediction Central, high above downtown Indianapolis, where no obstacle stands in the way of instant postseason picks.
The transfer portal is opening, the coaching carousel will continue well into January and the NFL draft in the spring looms for promising players. But all that matters is that the bowl matchups are set -- all 42 of them -- including the final four-team College Football Playoff field and the New Year's Six.
The objective here is to take the known information about the teams, estimate their personnel and coaching landscape as best as possible, assess game location, motivation and other factors and spit out predictions hours after the pairings are set.
Crazy? Perhaps. Prophetic? Hope so (but don't bet your life savings on it). Fun? Undeniably.
Last year's predictions had some big misses -- let's not talk about the New Year's Six forecast -- but also a few accurate score predictions. And now there's a new batch of bowls to do better. To be clear, these picks are straight up, not against the spread.
After a controversial Selection Day, we have two excellent CFP semifinals on tap, as well as notable New Year's Six matchups like Georgia-Florida State and Ohio State-Missouri. Other notable bowl matchups include Arizona-Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl, Oregon State-Notre Dame in El Paso, and Kansas State-NC State in the venerable Pop-Tarts Bowl. The next six weeks should be endlessly entertaining. OK, it's time for the predictions.
Ready, set, bowl!
College Football Playoff schedule
Monday, Jan. 1
Rose Bowl (Pasadena, California)
5 p.m., ESPN and the ESPN App
Alabama is a flawed but ascending team, as it displayed by controlling the SEC championship game against then-No. 1 Georgia. Quarterback Jalen Milroe is among the nation's most improved players and will attack downfield against a Michigan secondary led by takeaway-generating star Mike Sainristil.