Here on the eve of the College Football Bowl Season, you might be asking yourself, “How do I pick which games to watch?” Not to fear! Below, I am going to give you a comprehensive guide to the bowl game season including the best games, or Musts, worst games, Busts, and the largest toss-up games, Discussed, for each day of the Bowl Season. Happy Bowling!
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl
North Carolina Central vs. Grambling State
12 pm, ABC
This game will arguably be one of the most potentially interesting games in the bowl season. Both teams tote high powered offenses and very good records in the FCS coming into this game, but this leaves a lot of “what-ifs” in the minds of college football fans. We could see anything from an offensive shootout to a defensive festival or domination by either or both sides. Could potentially be a great game, but also could equally be a little boring.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico vs. UTSA
2 pm, ESPN
These two teams are both showing impressive football coming into this bowl game. UTSA comes from the C-USA toting a 6-6 record, while New Mexico has gone 8-4 this season. For me, this game seems cut and dry in that New Mexico has, without a doubt, one of the most fun offenses to watch in the NCAA. In fact, they lead the NCAA in rushing yards. While I expect New Mexico to win by a healthy 10 points or so, it will without a doubt be a very fun game for all to watch.
Las Vegas Bowl
Houston vs. San Diego State
3:30 pm, ABC
This game might as well be relabeled “The Disappointment Bowl.” By the names of the teams involved, this should have been a fantastic game. Here at the end of the season, however, there is a lacking of success from both. Houston had a horrible conference season while San Diego State slid in quality at the end of their season. While this could be a great match up of two dynamic offenses, this game could also be as monotonous as Bernie Sanders commentating a golf tournament.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Appalachian State vs. Toledo
5:30 pm, ESPN
If there is only one game you see on December 17, make sure it is this one! This may be, in fact, one of the most dynamic games in the entirety of the bowl season. The football machine known as Appalachian State goes up against the pure passing prowess of Toledo. Expect record numbers from App States running attack and Toledo’s passing attack and a fourth quarter for the ages! I predict that when it comes down to it, Appalachian State gets it done with big plays in the fourth quarter of an absolute shootout and return to the Rock in Boone bowl victors.
AutoNation Cure Bowl
UCF vs. Arkansas State
5:30 pm, CBS Sports Network
First we had “The Dissapointment Bowl.” Well this game is “The Inconsistent Bowl.” Two teams that have had hard-fought seasons but through the most inconsistent offensive and defensive play of all time. Both have plenty of potential for next year, but this will be a sloppy showing for one or both teams. Go watch the Camellia Bowl instead.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Southern Mississippi vs. Lousiana Layfayette
9 pm, ESPN
Another matchup of absolute inconsistency. Both teams have impressive victories as underdogs and horrible losses to teams they should have easily beaten. Tune to Freeform or another channel for Christmas movies and hit the hay early for church Sunday morning.
Miami Beach Bowl
Central Michigan vs. Tulsa
2:30 pm, ESPN
This game is open and shut to me. One team has had an extremely inconsistent season in a conference where they should readily encounter success. The other has had a tough but good season in a conference where they only lost to the top teams in the league and averaged about 40 points a game even when they lost. Tulsa wins by 20. Only watch if you really need a football fix.
Boca Raton Bowl
Memphis vs. Western Kentucky
7 pm, ESPN
This game will be another dynamic matchup between extremely potent offenses. There are only two inconsistencies- one is Memphis overall. They have been good the second half of the season but still inconsistent in some facets of their play. The second is WKU’s defense- they are sometimes an open door and sometimes a wall. Expect WKU to win in an offensive shootout.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
BYU vs. Wyoming
This is another game that will either be one of the most dynamic and interesting games in the Bowl Season or more boring than watching grass grow. BYU shows themselves as an impressive team. So does Wyoming…until they slipped up the last few games of their season. If both teams are at maximum capacity, expect a fantastic game…and maybe even overtime…
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Idaho vs. Colorado State
7 pm, ESPN
This game almost made the Must list, but barely missed it simply because- again- there is some inconsistency between each game. But this game has potential. For all the talk of Idaho downgrading to FCS, they should take note- they made it to a bowl game. They can compete on FBS level. Colorado State brings a highly potent offense to the mix to create the potential for a wonderful offensive showing, or an off-balance mess. If Colorado’s run attack shows up, expect them to win.
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion
1 pm, ESPN
A historical day for two programs. For ODU, their first bowl game. For EMU, their first bowl game in many, many, many, many, MANY years. Both are to be congratulated on reaching this point, and everyone should tune in and watch these play-making teams go at it. Expect a close one that will come down to who can make the biggest plays.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Louisiana Tech vs. #25 Navy
4:30 pm, ESPN
Another ultimate offensive showdown. LA Tech comes in having lost to Western Kentucky in the C-USA championship, while Navy nurses their wounds after losing the American championship and their rivalry to Army. Expect an offensive show where Navy finally comes out on top by a narrow margin. I would not be surprised if there were over 1,000 yards of offense between these teams.
Dollar General Bowl
Ohio vs. Troy
8 pm, ESPN
By this point in the day, you’re probably getting tired after two Musts earlier in the day. Watch the first few minutes of this game and judge how it goes. When these teams come in at 100%, this could be a fantastic game. If Ohio makes any mistakes, however, Troy can easily take advantage with their Air Raid offense. And if Troy makes any mistakes, Ohio’s defense is hungry for turnovers. This could potentially be a large blowout either way, a shootout, or a defensive struggle. Pop open a cold beer or soda, grab a slice of pizza, and sit back and see how it goes.
Hawai’i vs Middle Tennessee
8 pm, ESPN
This may become one of the most lopsided games of the Bowl Season. MTSU rides a lot of positive momentum and a wonderful offense into this bowl game against a Hawai’i team that barely made a bowl game and either always barely squeaked out a game against the bottom half of the Mountain West or lost by forty to the top dogs of the league. Expect a blowout and stay out late at Christmas Eve dinner celebrating the coming of Christ and family time together.
St. Petersburg Bowl
Miami (OH) vs. Mississippi State
11 am, ESPN
Miami (OH) has thoroughly earned this bowl game, having started the season 0-6 and winning six straight. Mississippi State, however, rides the momentum of reputation into the Bowl Season with a losing record in the bottom half of the SEC. While maybe not the best game of the Bowl Season, this game could show some interest. Expect Miami (OH) to get a seventh win. Merry Christmas, Miami (OH)!
Quick Lane Bowl
Maryland vs. Boston College
2:30 pm, ESPN
Finally! A good ol’ fashioned matchup between former ACC rivals….wait…oh… wow… these teams are both horrible. New name for this bowl- “The Butt Bowl.” Harsh? Yeah. Deserved? More so. Both come in at the bottom halves of their leagues and rode valuable wins over horrible teams to get to 6 wins. Even between these two teams, there is a large gap of talent. Expect Maryland to win by a few scores. Instead, use this time to catalogue your Christmas presents.
Camping World Independence Bowl
NC State vs. Vanderbilt
While you’re working on those thank you cards for the Christmas gifts you received from far off relatives, you can have this game on for background noise. NC State rides valuable wins over FCS teams and the bottom half of the ACC into a six win season. Vandy rides in on a few valuable victories in the SEC with a powerful defense- a defense that shut down Georgia’s running attack. Expect NC State’s running attack to be neutralized and Vandy to walk out of Shreveport with a bowl win.
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
Army vs. North Texas
12 pm, ESPN
This game was on the verge of the Bust category, but I chose against this for one reason: I love this Army team. They have consistently overcome the adversity and bad past years of their program to become bowl eligible and even beat Navy. North Texas scraped into the Bowl Season by the hair of their chinny-chin-chins. Expect Army to walk out with a well deserved bowl victory.
#24 Temple vs. Wake Forest
3:30 pm, ESPN
In the aftermath of “Wakey Leaks” and a bad ending of the season with loss to Boston College, the Demon Deacons could use a bowl victory to perk their spirits. Too bad they’re not going to get it. They’ll fight valiantly, but Temple is just too good. All Temple has to do is run and run the ball until the play-action pass opens up and that’s it. That’s the plan. A radio announcer from Temple doesn’t even have to tell Wake Forest that for Wake to know Temple’s game plan. Yet Temple will not be stopped. Blowout in Annapolis.
National Funding Holiday Bowl
Minnesota (or is it Northern Illinois?) vs. Washington State
7 pm, ESPN
Simple: if Minnesota plays, expect a good game with balance and a close victory by the Gophers in an offensive and defensive struggle. If Northern Illinois ends up taking their place, expect Washington State to trounce them. Class dismissed.
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
Boise State vs. Baylor
10:15 pm, ESPN
The only reason this game made the Discussed list was because of how good Boise State is. This is without a doubt one of the worst pairings in bowl game history during my lifetime. Boise will win in a masterful offensive and defensive performance. Baylor will be fortunate if they get 10 points in the game.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
#23 Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern
2 pm, ESPN
Pittsburgh comes into this game playing very good balanced football. Northwestern has kind of squeaked into this game. This makes this a very easy call for me. Northwestern fights valiantly but loses to Pittsburgh by a few scores. If there are no good movies on or you really want to watch a good offense in Pittsburgh (before Canada leaves Pitt), watch this game.
Russell Athletic Bowl
#16 West Virginia vs. Miami
5:30 pm, ESPN
Two teams on the rise go head to head with one critical difference. Good coaching makes a true difference in games like this. In this case, Mark Richt’s experience wins the game in an offensive and down-to-the-wire showdown.
Foster Farms Bowl
Indiana vs. #19 Utah
8:30 pm, Fox
This game will turn out to be one of the greatest stories of the Bowl Season or just another game. I have loved Indiana’s football team this year for the sheer fact that they continue to fight in a tough part of the Big Ten and still come out of the fire with a bowl eligible record. When big games come, they play big time. Utah was hyped from the beginning of the season but never quite lived up to our expectations. I see this as the potential upset of the Bowl Season with Indiana pulling out a close one…like one point close.
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
Texas A&M vs. Kansas State
9 pm, ESPN
Another game that could be very well balanced or a good game to fall asleep to in front of the fireplace. Both of these teams have had good seasons, if not fully realizing their potential. K State has fought for this game and everything they’ve earned. A&M had some rough luck during the season. Expect a good battle between offenses and defenses. Whoever wins will win by a touchdown or less.
South Florida vs. South Carolina
2 pm, ESPN
South Florida has a lot of potential to live up to, and after a couple tough losses in their season, this is the opportunity to prove themselves. If USF could have had a slightly better conference schedule, they could be amongst the nation’s elite with an all-star offense. Instead, they play a floundering South Carolina team that’s still heartbroken Spurrier retired. This will be a blowout, but USF is just so much fun to watch!
Arkansas vs. #22 Virginia Tech
5:30 pm, ESPN
Another game that you should watch while on New Years vacation! Don’t get depressed that Christmas is over. Get a snack and a drink and watch this game! Arkansas is always a potential giant killer, and Virginia Tech has had a dominant year in the ACC thanks to their high-powered offense. A high scoring affair, but look for VT to make the difference with some big plays…and maybe some Beamer ball.
Valero Alamo Bowl
#12 Oklahoma State vs. #10 Colorado
9 pm, ESPN
This could potentially be a defensive standoff or an epic shootout that might dwarf the BCS bowls. Which one will happen? Ehhhh. Look for Colorado to outgun Ok State at the end of it maybe in overtime. Definitely worth watching, but keep an open mind to how this game might go.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Georgia vs. TCU
12 pm, ESPN
Now we get to December 30th- the nitty-gritty of Bowl Season. But this game should’ve been played on the 17th. Two struggling teams battling it out for a participation trophy at the end of the year. A Georgia team who can either run the ball or effectively sit on the field, and a TCU team that has an offense that’s hot & cold and a defense that’s essentially an open door. Take this time to eat some lunch and prepare for the later games of the day.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
#18 Stanford vs. North Carolina
2 pm, CBS
Two explosive offenses. Two disappointing seasons. For each, a shot at redemption. So grab the bean dip and head to the couch for this thriller between McCaffrey & Stanford- the story of unsung potential- and Trubisky and UNC- the ACC Champs that could have been. This game sings perhaps the most complex root system of “what-ifs” in the entirety of bowl season. If Stanford runs the ball well and plays good defense- they win. If North Carolina plays good defense and moves the ball on offense- they win. If it becomes a shootout- UNC wins. So many things could happen with this game that it has to be watched. Time to break out the chips.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Nebraska vs. #21 Tennessee
3:30 pm, ESPN
This game is open and shut that Tennessee will win. If Tommy Armstrong were able to play, it would be obvious that Nebraska would win. But, as per usual, Tennessee has been given the easiest road possible to a bowl win and basically a home game. At least the Sun Bowl should be entertaining…
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl
South Alabama vs. Air Force
5:30 pm, Campus Insiders
There’s a reason this game isn’t even on a major network. And I hate saying that. I’m proud the South Alabama made their first bowl game. I’m proud that AF met with such success this year. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change the caliber of the game. Air Force wins.
Capital One Orange Bowl
#6 Michigan vs. #11 Florida State
8 pm, ESPN
Dear FSU fans, don’t expect much. You’ve had a tough season. Michigan has had a tough ending to their season, and they’ll be hungry for blood. FSU- you’re good, but you’re going to need to play the game of your life to keep up with Peppers and the high-powered Michigan offense. Dalvin Cook is going to need to work miracles on that Michigan defense to give you a shot. At the beginning of the season, I would’ve said this is a battle of the ages. Now- it’s worth watching, but results could be close or a blowout. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and say it’ll be close…maybe.
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
#20 LSU vs. #13 Louisville
11 am, ABC
This game would be a must if LSU had actually showed up this year; but as usual, LSU puts on a half-efforted display of mediocrity such that they don’t even deserve the title of best team in Louisiana. Meanwhile, Louisville had a shot of being in the College Football Playoff and just straight up blew it. But even at that, at least they have the Heisman winner. Look for Louisville to run away with this one.
Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky
11 am, ESPN
The game of giant killers. Both relatively average seasons sprinkled with tremendous upset victories and stupid losses. But make no mistake- this game should be good. Two consistently good offenses going at it. Grab some nachos and warm up for the BCS playoffs with a good ol’ fashioned slobberknocker of a game.
Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl (Playoff Semifinal One)
#4 Washington vs. #1 Alabama
3 pm, ESPN
I know my opinions for this game will be met with some harsh reception, but this will be the biggest upset of the Bowl Season. Washington showed us something in the Pac 12 Championship that we have wanted to see- what happens when they play big teams. Well this is the game where they put up or shut up. Their high-powered offense can score on Bama and their defense can stop Alabama’s offensive schemes. Bama is good. So is Washington. I say order a pizza, grab a six pack, and put your feet up. This is going to be a high-powered punch-out between titans of football. But at the end, I predict Washington walks out with a field goal near the end to win 44-42.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (Playoff Semifinal Two)
#3 Ohio State vs. #2 Clemson
7 pm, ESPN
Ok, now order more food and another six pack for this second round slugfest between OSU and Clemson. Staunch defenses meet mixed offenses. Both coaches hungry for a national title shot. This game may be on par or better than the first. So sit back and relax this tightly contested matchup. In the end, I predict that DeShaun Watson leads Clemson by Ohio State in a fourth quarter so stressful that it rivals the anxiety I feel watching House of Cards. Clemson wins 34-28.
#17 Florida vs. Iowa
1 pm, ABC
Looking at this game at first, you think “Why is this in January? A ranked and unranked team?” Your real questions should be, “Why is Florida even ranked?” and “Why isn’t Iowa ranked?” Florida continues to follow the coattails reputation of being in the SEC into getting ranked when their seasons ever since Tebow left show that they deserve no higher ranking than perhaps 20th. Iowa, meanwhile, continues to adapt and make it to games in an extremely difficult league. And on top of that, they beat top tier teams like Michigan while Florida slips by in the bottom half of the SEC (aka the SEC East). Time to topple the system and watch Iowa win in Florida!
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
#15 Western Michigan vs. #8 Wisconsin
1 pm, ESPN
This game will prove to be the triumph of the Bowl Season! Western Michigan comes up against a very good Wisconsin team…but not good enough. WMU is going to take this Cinderella story to a perfect 14-0 close. Now that’s not to say it won’t be close…it will be extremely close. But WMU has consistently shown that they can get it done in the fourth quarter, and I expect the same result here. Grab some snacks and enjoy this one!
#9 USC vs. #5 Penn State
5 pm, ESPN
I’m just a real jerk to the Big Ten, aren’t I? Well I’m sorry, but they have yet to prove themselves in a Bowl Season to me. This game is no exception as Penn State goes up against a USC team that is the embodiment of triumph. From a truly horrendous start to one of the greatest runs in college football, it is a shock that USC was not ranked higher. Keep your butt in that seat and watch as USC takes sweet revenge for Ohio State fans and gives Penn State something to cry about in California. USC wins big.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
#14 Auburn vs. #7 Oklahoma
8:30 pm, ESPN
This game should, by the numbers, be very entertaining. And yet it also has the potential to be the Baker Mayfield show and a runaway victory for Oklahoma. But either way, this game will be a good way to round out the day and finish off the last of those chips, dips, and pizza rolls on this great January 2nd of football.
College Football Playoff National Championship
#4 Washington vs. #2 Clemson
8 pm, ESPN
This final game of Bowl Season will not disappoint. Both teams will still be riding high after their close wins over a week before, but only one can win the title. Gather your friends, cook, and sit & watch this wonderful display. Washington will be on point, and Clemson will be furious to win a national title. In the end, expect DeShaun Watson and Clemson to score just enough so that Clemson’s defense can wrap up this game. An overtime scenario would not surprise me, but sit back and enjoy this final game. Clemson wins 31-28.