39.Ohio vs. Nevada
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Jan. 3, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
There’s not much to like about this game. Ohio is a 6-6 MAC team and Nevada is maybe the worst 7-5 team in recent memory. It’s on the Friday after the new year when things really start to settle in that if you live anywhere it gets cold, you’ve got a couple months of winter hell to look forward to and the only thing ahead is fairly meaningless basketball games and the NFL playoffs. It’s on a Friday afternoon, but it’s on the blue turf where it could also be snowing and it’s not an exciting game at all.
38. Georgia State vs. Wyoming
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Dec. 31, 4:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Georgia State was a lot more fun before Dan Ellington started playing on a torn ACL. Wyoming has never been fun really, but any fun was lost when Sean Chambers went out and Tyler Vander Waal took over at QB. At least it’s on NYE, but you’ll prefer watching the Navy/Kansas State game that starts 45 minutes prior.
37. Georgia Southern vs. Liberty
Dec. 21, 2:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
It’s a contrast of styles and I like both teams, but it doesn’t really appeal to the masses. But it is the first full day of bowls and I’m sure the bets will be flying.
36. Pitt vs. Eastern Michigan
Quick Lane Bowl
Dec. 26, 8 p.m., ESPN
This should probably be the worst game, but at least there’s the potential of a MAC team beating an ACC team. Given Pat Narduzzi’s penchant for mangling key situations and EMU’s uncanny knack for playing close games, it could be a recipe for chaos.
35. Buffalo vs. Charlotte
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
Dec. 20, 2 p.m., ESPN
It’s the first bowl game of the season and it’s in the Bahamas. Charlotte is playing in their first ever bowl game. Could be worse.
34. Kent State vs. Utah State
Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl
Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
The second bowl game of the season and there’s some potential for points on a Friday night heading into Christmas week. The Twitter NFL Draft experts will be providing some “expertise” on Jordan Love’s performance.
33. San Diego State vs. Central Michigan
New Mexico Bowl
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Dec. 21, 2 p.m., ESPN
CMU at least provides the potential for points, but SDSU is dedicated to playing games with a total under 35. It’s the opener for the first full Saturday of bowl games.
32. Louisiana vs. Miami (OH)
Jan. 6, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
This is the last bowl before the national championship. It occurs on a Monday night and it’s in Mobile. There are pros and cons to this game, but I’m intrigued to watch the Louisiana running game matched up with the best defense from the MAC. When you think about it, it’s really the ultimate for a #MACtion and #FunBelt matchup on a random Monday night.
31. FIU vs. Arkansas State
Dec. 21, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
I don’t know, this might be too high, but I feel like there’s a pretty good chance this goes over the total of 62.5.
30. Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Dec. 30, 12:30 p.m., ESPN
This is an ultimate “avoid the scaries” type of game. It falls on a Monday afternoon between the post-Christmas weekend and right before the new year celebration. Think of it as a mimosa at Sunday brunch after you just went on a two-day bender and you aren’t ready to fully embrace that real life is about to resume.
29. Tulane vs. Southern Miss
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Fort Worth, Texas
Jan. 4, 11:30 a.m., ESPN
It’s a late bowl. A contrast of styles on a Saturday morning after New Year’s Day. It’s a pregame for a couple of NFL playoff games of which I’m sure will feature the Texans and/or the Bills and it might be more entertaining.
28. App State vs. UAB
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Dec. 21, 9 p.m., ESPN
It’ll probably be a blowout because the UAB offense has gone to hell, but it’s fun to watch App State and this will be a solid TV2 option as the Rams and 49ers play.
27. Illinois vs. Cal
Santa Clara, California
Dec. 30, 4 p.m., FOX
This is a competitive bowl pretty much every year and I wouldn’t expect this to be any different. The amount of scoring is always a variable and unfortunately this might be close to last year’s 7-6 affair between Oregon and Michigan State. But it’s still kinda fun. Illinois is thrilled to be in a bowl and Cal was part of the classic Cheez-It Bowl last year (10-7, a million interceptions).
26. Boston College vs. Cincinnati
TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
Jan. 2, 3 p.m., ESPN
Your post-New Year’s Day hangover game. You’re probably working and looking for a game to stream while you just try to idle until the weekend. Cinci vs. a Power 5 team and that P5 team has AJ Dillon on it.
25. UNC vs. Temple
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
Dec. 27, Noon, ESPN
Sam Howell is the main draw here. He’s a true freshman stud QB and may be the most exciting thing in the ACC outside of Clemson going forward. Add in Mack Brown and Rod Carey trying to overcome his abysmal 0-6 bowl record and it’s fairly interesting.
24. UCF vs. Marshall
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
Dec. 23, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
The masses have rejoiced in UCF losing three games this year, but they were all on the road by a combined 7 points. Marshall isn’t terrible and it’s an intriguing game for storylines. It’s a decent afternoon game when many people will be taking the day off before Christmas.
23. Mississippi State vs. Louisville
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Dec. 30, 4 p.m., ESPN
This was better when Tennessee was supposed to be playing Louisville, but this is what we’ve got. I swear if Joe Moorhead plays Tommy Stevens over Garrett Shrader again, he should be fired.
22. Miami (FL) vs. Louisiana Tech
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
Dec. 26, 4 p.m., ESPN
There is big-time upset potential here. La Tech is undervalued because they played two of their biggest game of the season without their starting QB and best WR. I don’t know how much Miami cares and the game is in Louisiana.
21. Wake Forest vs. Michigan State
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Dec. 27, 3:20 p.m., ESPN
There were rumors of Pitt playing MSU in this one, which would’ve only been intriguing because of the Narduzzi vs. Mentor matchup. Luckily Wake provides some scoring punch and now we’ve got good offense vs. good defense as the hook for this game.
20. Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech
Charlotte, North Carolina
Dec. 31, Noon, ESPN
The Twitter account is usually better than the game, but there are worse ways to kick off your NYE. It’s probably our last chance to watch Lynn Bowden play QB.
19. Navy vs. Kansas State
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Dec. 31, 3:45 p.m., ESPN
Malcolm Perry has turned in to one of the most exciting players in the country. If you’re working NYE, still young enough to be willing to participate in the most overpriced, overrated holiday of the calendar year, the second half will be the start of your pregame. Everything feels more fun during a pregame. Including a football game in Memphis that’s gonna have a lot of running plays.
18. SMU vs. FAU
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
Boca Raton, Florida
Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m., ABC
Probably too low for a game that’s gonna feature one of the highest totals on the board, but unfortunately many won’t care about the game because it’s two Group of 5 teams. Buffalo and New England will also be playing at a similar time. Also, I’m assuming Joey Freshwater won’t be attending.
17. Florida State vs. Arizona State
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
El Paso, Texas
Dec. 31, 2 p.m., CBS
Actually should be a pretty entertaining game, but it gets downgraded because I’m assuming Gary Danielson will be on the call and he’ll probably spend half the time fellating the SEC and/or laughing at student photographers who get knocked out cold on the sidelines.
16. Tennessee vs. Indiana
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Jan. 2, 7 p.m., ESPN
This may be a personal bias, but I’m excited for this game. It’s IU’s best team in decades and their offense was pretty fun with Kalen DeBoer calling the shots. They’ll get a Tennessee team that finished the year strong and a potential Vols win will be a great spark for the “Tennessee is back” hype train.
15. Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
Dec. 27, 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Will be much more interesting if Spencer Sanders plays and we get a Sanders-Kellen Mond showdown, but Dru Brown is a decent replacement if Sanders can’t go. Of course, this would be 10x better if we would’ve gotten Texas-Texas A&M in this game. Mike Gundy’s mullet still keeps the world turning and Chuba Hubbard is always fun.
14. Florida vs. Virginia
Capital One Orange Bowl
Miami Gardens, Florida
Dec. 30, 8 p.m., ESPN
I know there’s some stupid rule that allows Virginia to be in this game, but it’s unjust. They don’t deserve it. I don’t hate the Hoos, but this would be much more intriguing if it was Boise or App State against the SEC. Florida and Dan Mullen have a special place in my heart, but their average game has 48 points in it and that doesn’t put asses in the seats.
13. USC vs. Iowa
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
Dec. 27, 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1
It’s worth watching just to see the USC receivers go up against a pretty good Iowa defense. It feels like a game I’d typically bet on, but I refuse to wager on another Iowa game this year. I haven’t added it up, but I’m pretty sure the difference between me being in the red and the black on games this year is the amount I’ve lost on Iowa games.
I know he’s a college kid, but I legitimately hate Nate Stanley. He’s my mortal enemy. Every time I bet on Nate Stanley, he sucks and vice versa when I bet against him. Every time I’m watching another ticket go up in flames and they show him on the sideline taking his helmet off, with that horrendous haircut, over those 80s era-sized pads he wears, I get enraged.
So yeah, probably not betting it.
12. Air Force vs. Washington State
Dec. 27, 10:15 p.m., ESPN
Triple option vs. the Air Raid. Mike Leach. An academy. Cheez-It Bowl. Friday night. Late. This game has so much potential.
11. Hawaii vs. BYU
SoFi Hawai’i Bowl
Dec. 24, 8 p.m., ESPN
I love the playoffs, I love Pasadena, but it’s hard to replicate the happiness tornado that Christmas Eve, family, and kickoff in Honolulu (and maybe a slight buzz) creates for a man. We had to endure a Dec. 22 game day last year because the NFL insists on ruining everything, but we’re back to peak-Hawaii Bowl this year. Not to mention, it’s gonna be a damn good football game. Let the inexplicable amount of debris fly across the field, get out your leis and puka shells, and enjoy the hell out of this Christmas Eve treat.
10. Washington vs. Boise State
Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m., ABC
Chris Petersen in his last game as UW’s coach vs. his old team. It’s an easy sell.
9. Notre Dame vs. Iowa State
Camping World Bowl
Dec. 28, Noon, ABC
Pound-for-pound, this begins our best day of the bowl slate. Say what you want, Notre Dame’s presence just makes everything more interesting. Iowa State might be one of the best 7-5 teams in a while. Their five losses were by a combined 21 points.
8. Auburn vs. Minnesota
Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ESPN
The SEC vs. the Big Ten is always entertaining. I’m not sure if Auburn’s offense has turned a corner after the big game against Alabama, but they still have a great defense. It’ll be an intriguing matchup between them and Minnesota’s stud WRs and a pretty decent running game to go with it.
7. Georgia vs. Baylor
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m., ESPN
Personally…….I kind of don’t care about this game and it probably won’t be that fun to watch, but it feels like it matters and it’s the nightcap to New Year’s Day.
6. Utah vs. Texas
Valero Alamo Bowl
Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
I say it every year, but I love the Alamo Bowl. There have been some great games in recent years and there’s something about that dome. It should be electric with Texas involved in San Antonio and Utah is still a really good football team.
Also, here’s what I wrote heading into Texas’ appearance in the Sugar Bowl last year:
This game could end up being a blowout, but if it doesn’t, we’ve got some real strong “TEXAS IS BACK, FOLKS” potential.
5. Memphis vs. Penn State
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
Dec. 28, Noon, ESPN
Kicking off at the same time as ND-ISU and those games will lead into the playoffs. I can’t tell if Mike Norvell is actually coaching Memphis or not in the bowl game, but it’s probably all semantics anyway, as I’m sure most of his focus in the lead-up will be on FSU.
Memphis has a real chance to win the game. We’ll see what PSU’s motivation is after missing out on playing in the Big Ten championship, walking through the Rutgers game, and then getting upset that they weren’t picked for the Rose Bowl.
4. Alabama vs. Michigan
Vrbo Citrus Bowl
Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ABC
This will be so much better if like 20 guys don’t sit out, but it’s a possibility. At the end of the day, it’s still Alabama and Michigan and still Saban vs. Harbaugh.
3. Oregon vs. Wisconsin
Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual
Jan. 1, 5 p.m., ESPN
There is not a more stimulating visual setting in sports than the Rose Bowl and the color clash of these two only helps that cause. Not to mention, you’re gonna get some great takes on Justin Herbert as a draft prospect (he’s probably gonna suck in the NFL) and apparently Jonathan Taylor is planning on playing for the Badgers.
2. LSU vs. Oklahoma
College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Dec. 28, 4 p.m., ESPN
There’s a lot of potential here for yet another semifinal blowout, but at least there will most likely be a lot of points.
1. Ohio State vs. Clemson
College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
Dec. 28, 8 p.m., ESPN
This is about as good as college football can get. It’s going to be a delight.