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The Spun’s 2021 College Football Staff Picks: College Football Playoff, Bowl Season

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young celebrates in the 2021 SEC Championship.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 04: Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after scoring a touchdown with teammate Evan Neal #73 in the second quarter of the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 04, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The 2021 college football regular season was filled with drama. Top 10 teams struggled to maintain their spots in the rankings and a batch of programs that haven't been in the mix for years factored into the national championship conversation throughout the campaign.

But when all was said and done, picking the four teams to compete in the College Football Playoff couldn't have been easier.

Alabama rightfully earned the No. 1 spot after an explosive showing against Georgia in the SEC Championship game. Michigan slotted in at No. 2, despite all of the clamoring from the school's fans that the Wolverines should've earned the top overall seed. The Bulldogs came next at No. 3 with their sole blemish coming in the conference title game, but a tenacious defense still intact. Cincinnati, the first Group of Five team to ever make the playoff rounded out the group at No. 4 after an undefeated season.

The final set of rankings from the CFP Committee set up a pair of highly anticipated semifinals. Alabama will meet Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl, before Michigan takes on Georgia in the Orange Bowl. The Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs will enter the games as comfortable favorites, but if this year has shown fans anything it's that every team is vulnerable.

Both semifinals will take place on Dec. 31 and ring in the New Year in the best way possible.

Apart from the playoff, the rest of this year's bowl games promise to provide some intrigue that should keep fans satisfied through the holidays. No. 5 Notre Dame, now under the direction of Marcus Freeman, will square off with No. 9 Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. No. 6 Ohio State will look to settle for a consolation prize with a victory in the Rose Bowl over No. 11 Utah. No. 8 Ole Miss and No. 7 Baylor will do battle in the Sugar Bowl. No. 10 Michigan State, without Kenneth Walker, will try to slow down No. 12 Pittsburgh, without Kenny Pickett, in the Peach Bowl. The non-Power Five programs also promise to deliver some fascinating matchups with No. 13 BYU taking on UAB and one-loss UTSA trying to finish off their magical season with a win over No. 24 San Diego State.

Last year's college football bowl season was dramatically thinned out, but in 2021, the schedule promises to be chock-full of nonstop action. 44 games are on the docket and 86 total teams will play for a postseason trophy over the next three weeks.

Here's a look at the complete bowl schedule. All start times are ET:

Fri., Dec. 17, 12 p.m. - Bahamas Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Toledo

Fri., Dec. 17, 6 p.m. - Tailgreeter Cure Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Coastal Carolina

Sat., Dec. 18, 11 a.m. - RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State

Sat., Dec. 18, 12 p.m. - Cricket Celebration Bowl: South Carolina State vs. Jackson State

Sat., Dec. 18, 2:15 p.m. - PUBG Mobile New Mexico Bowl: UTEP vs. Fresno State

Sat., Dec. 18 3:30 p.m. - Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl: UAB vs. 13 BYU

Sat., Dec. 18, 5:45 p.m. - LendingTree Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. Liberty

Sat., Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m. - Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl pres. by Stifel: Utah State vs. Oregon State

Sat., Dec. 18, 9:15 p.m. - R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: 23 Louisiana vs. Marshall

Mon., Dec. 20, 2:30 p.m. - Myrtle Beach Bowl Presented by TaxAct: Old Dominion vs. Tulsa

Tues., Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. - Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Kent State vs. Wyoming

Tues., Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. - Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl: UTSA vs. 24 San Diego State

Wed., Dec. 22, 8 p.m. - Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Missouri vs. Army

Thur., Dec. 23, 3:30 p.m. - Frisco Football Classic: North Texas vs. Miami (Ohio)

Thur., Dec. 23, 7 p.m. - Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl: UCF vs. Florida

Fri., Dec. 24, 8 p.m. - EasyPost Hawai'i Bowl: Memphis vs. Hawai'i

Sat., Dec. 25, 2:30 p.m. - TaxAct Camellia Bowl: Georgia State vs. Ball State

Mon., Dec. 27, 11 a.m. - Quick Lane Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Nevada

Mon., Dec. 27, 2:30 p.m. - Military Bowl presented by Peraton: Boston College vs. East Carolina

Tues., Dec. 28, 12 p.m. - TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl: 20 Houston vs. Auburn

Tues., Dec. 28, 3:15 p.m. - SERVPRO First Responder Bowl: Air Force vs. Louisville

Tues., Dec. 28, 6:45 p.m. - AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Texas Tech

Tues., Dec. 28, 8 p.m. - San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: UCLA vs. 18 NC State

Tues., Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m. - Guaranteed Rate Bowl: West Virginia vs. Minnesota

Wed., Dec. 29, 11 a.m. - Wasabi Fenway Bowl: SMU vs. Virginia

Wed., Dec. 29, 2:15 p.m. - New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Maryland vs. Virginia Tech

Wed., Dec. 29, 5:45 p.m. - Cheez-It Bowl: 19 Clemson vs. Iowa State

Wed., Dec. 29, 9:15 p.m. - Valero Alamo Bowl: 14 Oregon vs. 16 Oklahoma

Thur., Dec. 30, 11:30 a.m. - Duke's Mayo Bowl: North Carolina vs. South Carolina

Thur., Dec. 30, 3 p.m. - TransPerfect Music City Bowl: Tennessee vs. Purdue

Thur., Dec. 30, 7 p.m. - Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: 10 Michigan State vs. 12 Pittsburgh

Thur., Dec. 30, 10:30 p.m. - SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Arizona State

Fri., Dec. 31, 11 a.m. - TaxSlayer Gator Bowl: 17 Wake Forest vs. 25 Texas A&M

Fri., Dec. 31, 2 p.m. - Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: Washington State vs. Miami

Fri., Dec. 31, 2 p.m. - Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Boise State

Fri., Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. - CFP Football Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 4 Cincinnati vs. No. 1 Alabama

Fri., Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. - CFP Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Michigan

Sat., Jan. 1, 12 p.m. - Outback Bowl: Penn State vs. 21 Arkansas

Sat., Jan. 1, 1 p.m. - Vrbo Citrus Bowl: 15 Iowa vs. 22 Kentucky

Sat., Jan. 1, 1 p.m. - PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: 5 Notre Dame vs. 9 Oklahoma State

Sat., Jan. 1, 5 p.m. - Rose Bowl Game Pres. by Capital One Venture X: 6 Ohio State vs. 11 Utah

Sat., Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m. - Allstate Sugar Bowl: 8 Ole Miss vs. 7 Baylor

Tues., Jan. 4, 9 p.m. - TaxAct Texas Bowl: LSU vs. Kansas State

Mon., Jan. 10, 8 p.m. - College Football Playoff National Championship Game

After leading for most of the year, Steve Driscoll walked away victorious in The Spun's annual regular season picks. Andrew McCarty was a close second and Alek Arend rounded out the podium in third.

Here's how the final standing ended up after 15 weeks and over 500 total picks made:

1. Steve Driscoll: 399-123
2. Andrew McCarty: 397-125
3. Alek Arend: 395-127
4. Dan Lyons: 393-129
5. Zach Koons: 392-130
6. Matt Audilet: 390-132
7. Chris Rosvoglou: 388-134
8. Tzvi Machlin: 385-137
9. Matt Lombardi: 384-138
10. Andrew Holleran: 382-140
11. Matt Hladik: 378-144

For the postseason, we welcome Hunter Hodies and Daniel Bates into the shenanigans. Here are our picks for the 2021 college football bowl games and the College Football Playoff:

Screenshot of 2021 college football bowl game picks.

Check back in with The Spun to see which of us comes out on top when the year comes to a close on Jan. 10.