Every year, we get the complaint: too many bowl games. Now, that complaint is silly for multiple reasons. First of all, more college football is always good. If you don’t want to watch a bowl game between two 6-6 Group of 5 teams, just don’t watch. That being said, some bowl games will be better than others. Better teams, better matchups, better storylines- some games are just more compelling. So, while my official recommendation is to watch every single bowl game, I know not everyone has time for that. To help out those of you who are temporally challenged, I’m ranking every bowl game. Which games will be the best to watch? And why? Let’s run them all down, from the 39th-best to the top.
It’s hard to understate just how good the bowl lineup is this year. As I wrote this, I consistently slotted games in what would usually be a middle-of-the-pack or better spot in an average this year. The Arizona Bowl (#31 on this list) is where the “above average” games started. In any other year, that would be around #20. This year, it’s not even the 30th-best game. These games might not jump off the page and scream “must-watch” at first glance, but this really is an incredible slate of games overall.
39. Cure Bowl: Tulane vs Louisiana (Saturday, Dec. 15, 1:30 PM, CBS Sports Network)
Line: Tulane -3.5; O/U: 59
The first bowl game of the year is not particularly compelling, and it gets last place on this list. Louisiana (formerly known as Louisiana-Lafayette) has turned into a decent Sun Belt program of late, while Tulane scraped into a bowl by the skin of its teeth. And yet, the Green Wave is favored in this game. There’s no particular reason to be drawn to watch, other than the fact that games on CBS Sports Network seem to get wacky for no reason. There also, unfortunately, is a good reason not to watch this game. The New Mexico Bowl should be a much, much better game, and it’s at basically the same time. (Keep reading, you’ll see how much further down the list that game is.)
38. Potato Bowl: BYU vs Western Michigan (Friday, Dec. 21, 4:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: BYU -13; O/U 49.5
Fun fact: This game has the highest line, other than the Sugar Bowl. For the life of me, I don’t know why. I’ve said it before, but BYU fans absolutely baffle me. Kalani Sitake took a program on the cusp of consistent national relevance — the Cougars were often ranked, and considered serious challenges to the P5 teams that scheduled them — and has thoroughly run it into the ground. He took a loaded 2016 team to a 9-4 record that was nowhere near as good as it suggested, and followed that up by going 4-9. And the more he struggles, the more BYU fans seem to love him. I just don’t get it. Anyway, BYU is more talented than Western Michigan, who hasn’t quite found a coach to replace P.J. Fleck yet. Fleck left the cupboard loaded with talent, but Tim Lester hasn’t been able to do much with it. Hey, that’s kind of like Kalani Sitake at BYU! So while this game is a fitting one, I have trouble believing it will be good, or particularly fun to watch.
37. Frisco Bowl: Ohio vs San Diego State (Wednesday, Dec. 19, 8:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Ohio -3; O/U: 54
It’s hard to get excited about this game. San Diego State entirely collapsed over the second half of the year, in a way that was as impressive as it was baffling. This team went from beating Boise State to losing to UNLV. Ohio is always a solid team that doesn’t make too many mistakes but never overly impresses either. Honestly, this game is all on SDSU. The Aztecs have more talent across the board (except maybe on the offensive line), and if they play well they should win. It’s been a long time since this team has played well, though.
36. Camellia Bowl: Georgia Southern vs Eastern Michigan (Saturday, Dec. 15, 5:30 PM, ESPN)
Line: Georgia Southern -2.5; O/U: 47.5
I honestly find this line somewhat baffling. While I hope this is a great game, Georgia Southern just seems like the much stronger team. Georgia Southern has found a good triple-option quarterback in Shai Werts, and it’s hard to see Eastern Michigan doing much defensively. Then again, bowl games with triple-option teams are often wonky, as the opponent has a full month (or two weeks, in this case) to prepare- unless the opponent just chooses to use the bowl practices to prepare for next season instead. It is impossible to understate, though, just what Chris Creighton has done at Eastern Michigan. He took an FBS doormat and made the team from Ypsilanti respectable. That, alone, makes his team’s games worth watching.
35. Gasparilla Bowl: Marshall vs South Florida (Thursday, Dec. 20, 8:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Marshall -2.5; O/U 55.5
South Florida, like San Diego State above, is another team that collapsed in the second half of the season. Remember when this team was ranked? Yeah, neither can most people. This team went from beating Georgia Tech to getting blown out by Tulane. Ouch. The defense has been rough all season, but the offense used to be able to compensate for that. After a few weeks to rest and practice, maybe the Bulls can come back to life. They’re facing a talented team, but Marshall isn’t overly impressive. Is Marshall good enough to add to South Florida’s five-game losing streak? Maybe. It should be a pretty fun game, though, even if it’s not a great one.
34. Hawaii Bowl: Hawai’i vs Louisiana Tech (Saturday, Dec. 22, 10:30 PM, ESPN)
Line: Hawai’i -1; O/U: 60
I have no idea how good this game will be, but it should be fun. The Rainbow Warriors have a great offense (when it clicks) and very little defense. Louisiana Tech has a decent defense and a pretty good offense. Expect some late-night fireworks on the Islands. Also, Hawai’i sophomore quarterback Cole McDonald is the best passer you’ve probably never seen. Make sure to watch him because he’ll be lighting up scoreboards for at least one more year in college football, and will probably continue to do so in the NFL, too.
33. Cheez-It Bowl: TCU vs California (Wednesday, Dec. 26, 9:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Even; O/U: 39.5
TCU has fallen quite far since leading Ohio State way back in Week 1. This team collapsed and then finished the season strong to scrape its way into a bowl. Cal, on the other hand, was consistently mediocre this year. The defense is solid, but the offense doesn’t do anything special. TCU has some real playmakers, so if the Horned Frogs prepare well we could see a good matchup. I’m not expecting anything, though, based off what I saw from both of these teams all season.
32. Texas Bowl: Baylor vs Vanderbilt (Thursday, Dec. 27, 9:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Vanderbilt -3.5; O/U: 55
Other than acknowledging the great job that Matt Rhule has done in rehabilitating Baylor’s football program (on the field, at least; the reputation might take a bit longer to re-form), there’s not much to look forward to here. Both teams are solid, but nothing special sticks out. The Vanderbilt combo of Kyle Shurmur and Ke’Shawn Vaughn is a potent one, and this game will probably hinge on how well the Baylor defensive backs can contain Vaughn. It’s nice to see Matt Rhule back in a bowl game. Maybe in a few years, we’ll be able to say the same for his school.
31. Arizona Bowl: Nevada vs Arkansas State (Saturday, Dec. 29, 1:15 PM, CBS Sports Network)
Line: Arkansas State -1.5; O/U: 59.5
Don’t sleep on this game. It’s up against two others, but it has the chance to be the most compelling of the three. These are two talented Group of 5 teams- towards the tops of their respective conferences, but not quite there. Each team has major playmakers all over the offense. Justice Hanson, Kirk Merritt, Justin McInnis (Arkansas State); Ty Gangi, Toa Taua, McLane Mannix, and Kaleb Fossum (Nevada) -watch out for all of these names, and more, throughout the game. These teams will make great plays on offense, and both have the defenses to slow down even high-powered opponents. This should be a fun game, so make sure it doesn’t get lost in the time slot.
30. Independence Bowl: Temple vs Duke (Thursday, Dec. 27, 1:30 PM, ESPN)
Line: Temple -4; O/U: 55
So often when physical Group of 5 teams match up against Power 5 teams in bowl games, we end up disappointed. (See, for example, Temple’s appearance in the 2016 Military Bowl.) It’s really easy to be physical against other Group of 5 teams; it’s much tougher against those Power 5 offensive and defensive linemen. These two teams match up pretty well in terms of both talent and style, though. As long as Duke can’t physically just outmuscle the Owls, we should be in for a pretty good game. I don’t know how confident I can be about that happening, though.
29. New Orleans Bowl: Appalachian State vs Middle Tennessee State (Saturday, Dec. 15, 9:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Appalachian State -7; O/U 49.5
No disrespect to Middle Tennessee, which is actually a good team this year, but the Blue Raiders are outmatched in this one. Appalachian State has very quietly — other than that Week 1 loss to Penn State — been one of the best Group of 5 teams this year. A shockingly poor loss to Georgia Southern notwithstanding, this team has been excellent all year. Sophomore Zac Thomas looks like the next top App State quarterback, and he has this team rolling. The one reason this game might be close is that App State coach Scott Satterfield has taken the Louisville job. How will the Mountaineers play without a coach? If the answer to that question is “not well,” then the game might be closer, but it won’t be better for it.
28. Bahamas Bowl: Toledo vs Florida International (Friday, Dec. 21, 12:30 PM, ESPN)
Line: Toledo -6; O/U 68.5
If you like defense, this game probably isn’t for you. Both teams actually have some talent on that side of the ball (FIU more so than Toledo), but it’s the offenses that really get these teams going. Toledo has been a little off this year — by Toledo standards — but it can still rack up points. FIU’s defense has actually been stout all year, but it hasn’t faced an offense like this. I have no idea who will win this game, but I’m going to enjoy the fireworks in finding out.
27. Pinstripe Bowl: Miami (Fl) vs Wisconsin (Thursday, Dec. 27, 5:15 PM, ESPN)
Line: Miami (Fl) -4; O/U: 48
It’s a little harder to get excited for this year’s meeting than last year’s. A season ago, these two were Top 10 teams facing off in the Orange Bowl, and the game did not disappoint. Now, these are two teams (and possibly programs) in free-fall. Each started out in the Top 10, and each will finish the year unranked. In some ways, it’s a fitting bookend to the 2018 season for these two schools. It’s also a chance for Miami to earn a little revenge for last year’s loss. Overall, though, this game is just underwhelming. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is worth watching, though.
26. Military Bowl: Cincinnati vs Virginia Tech (Monday, Dec. 31, 12:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Cincinnati -6.5; O/U: 53.5
The Bearcats are in the midst of their best season in the CFP era, under Luke Fickell. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, snuck into a bowl by beating a decent Marshall team during conference championship week. The Hokies have talent, but they haven’t played that well all year. In a way, this is a very unfair matchup to Cincinnati. The Bearcats will be expected to win, and they’re still favored, but they’re facing a team with far more potential than what it actually did this year. A loss will look bad for Cincinnati, but a win might just be what the Hokies need to get back on track in 2019.
25. Armed Forces Bowl: No. 22 Army vs Houston (Saturday, Dec. 22, 3:30 PM, ESPN)
Line: Army -3; O/U: 60.5
Army is a really good team, and Houston is solid. The Knights almost kept Oklahoma out of the Playoff earlier in the season, with one of the best drives ever that almost no one saw. Houston won’t have defensive star Ed Oliver, but this is a solid team even without him. Triple-option offenses run the risk of being boring in bowl games, but I wouldn’t be too concerned. These are two very good teams and this should be a close, tough game. It might not be the most exciting, but it’s definitely one worth watching.
24. Birmingham Bowl: Memphis vs Wake Forest (Saturday, Dec. 22, 12:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Memphis -3.5; O/U: 73.5
Memphis didn’t quite live up to expectations this year. The Tigers still won the AAC West and gave UCF a scare (twice), but their game against Missouri was poor, and they were nowhere near as dominant against bad teams as they should have been. Memphis gets another shot at a P5 school, and this should be a great matchup. Expect little defense and a lot of fun when these two meet. Memphis fans may want to secretly root against their own team, though, so that they can keep coach Mike Norvell.
23. Sun Bowl: Stanford vs Pitt (Monday, Dec. 31, 2:00 PM, CBS)
Line: Stanford -6.5; O/U: 52
This should be a surprisingly good game, but not one that’s particularly compelling. Both teams have strong defenses and good lines, and both are well-coached. Stanford has more talent across the board than Pitt, and a guy named Bryce Love. This will be your last chance to see Love play in college, so that’s one good reason to make sure not to miss this game.
22. Holiday Bowl: No. 20 Utah vs Northwestern (Monday, Dec. 31, 7:00 PM, Fox Sports 1)
Line: Utah -7.5; O/U: 46
It might not be fair to put this game so low. Both of these are solid teams, each in the top 26 of the AP Poll. The teams should be pretty evenly-matched, too. While the quality will likely be decent, though, the game probably won’t be too entertaining. Expect each team to try and grind out a win. We’ll see a lot more three-yard runs and quick check-downs than we will explosive plays. You won’t want to miss the ending to this game, but the beginning and middle are probably expendable.
21. Las Vegas Bowl: No. 19 Fresno State vs Arizona State (Saturday, Dec. 15, 3:30 PM, ABC)
Line: Fresno State -4.5; O/U 53.5
This Arizona State team has been hit or miss all year. The upset of Michigan State no longer looks as good, but the Sun Devils controlled their Pac 12 destiny as late as November. Herm Edwards wasn’t talking about the Playoff in his first season in Tempe, that’s for sure. Fresno State, meanwhile, is doing wonders to rehabilitate Jeff Tedford’s coaching image. The Bulldogs are Mountain West Conference champions and nationally ranked. If not for an early loss to Minnesota, Fresno State would’ve been on the national radar all season. Both defenses are the anchors of their teams, so this one does have the potential to turn a bit sluggish. Still, it would be the good kind of low-scoring game in that case.
20. Boca Raton Bowl: UAB vs Northern Illinois (Tuesday, Dec. 18, 7:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: UAB -2.5; O/U: 43
This should be a very good game between two good Group of 5 teams. The Northern Illinois program isn’t quite at the level it was a few years ago, but it’s still very solid. UAB, meanwhile, didn’t exist a few years ago, but that hasn’t stopped the Blazers from returning with a vengeance. This should just be a good game between two teams with great defenses. The Huskies can be a bit offensively challenged sometimes, though, so if they can’t find a way to consistently move the ball, the defense will have to step up even more than usual. Lucky for the Huskies, the defense is certainly capable of that. This is basically a P5-level defense on a Group of 5 team. It should be fun to see what it can do against a good UAB offense.
19. Dollar General Bowl: Buffalo vs Troy (Saturday, Dec. 22, 7:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Buffalo -3; O/U: 52.5
Neither of these teams actually won their conference, and I don’t care. This is going to be one heck of a football game. Lance Leipold has done an unreal job bringing Buffalo from being one of the worst teams in FBS to being a legitimate MAC power. (Honestly, the fact that Kansas didn’t try to hire him is baffling. He’s a perfect fit, and they just ignored it.) Troy, meanwhile, looks headed back to its Sun Belt glory days, though with some strong competition at the top. Yeah, the Trojans got blasted by Boise State early in the season, but they’re still a good team. Both of these teams are very solid on both sides of the ball, and each is really fun to watch with a potentially explosive offense. Watch this game.
18. First Responder Bowl: No. 23 Boise State vs Boston College (Wednesday, Dec. 26, 1:30 PM, ESPN)
Line: Boise State -3; O/U: 56
I’m genuinely excited for this game. Boise State has a bit of a tendency to let down in not-major bowl games, but hopefully that doesn’t happen here. The Broncos got blown out by Oklahoma State but also blew out Troy, and beat both Fresno State and Utah State (before losing the rematch against Fresno). Boston College looked strong for most of the season, but faded down the stretch. Still, this should be a good, physical battle between two tough football teams. Each has a running back — Alexander Matteson for Boise State and A.J. Dillon for Boston College — who are great and will perform at the next level, too, so keep an eye on them.
17. Belk Bowl: South Carolina vs Virginia (Saturday, Dec. 29, 12:00 PM, ABC)
Line: South Carolina -4.5; O/U: 54.5
The Belk Bowl has provided a few great games over the years, along with a lot of duds. This year’s game certainly has the potential to be either. Virginia and South Carolina are both talented teams with good coaches, but haven’t been too consistent all year. The last we saw of this Gamecock offensive attack, it was lighting up Clemson in their rivalry game. Of course, Deebo Samuel is sitting out the game, so Jake Bentley and the offense will have to make up for that. Virginia and Bronco Mendenhall can game plan this to make it a good one, but each team definitely has the potential to make it a let down.
16. Redbox Bowl: Michigan State vs Oregon (Monday, Dec. 31, 3:00 PM, FOX)
Line: Oregon -3; O/U: 48
I have no idea what to expect from this game. The Michigan State offense has potential under Brian Lewerke, but it really hasn’t been able to do anything all season. The defense is stout, though, as the Spartans haven’t given up a lot of points to anyone either. This game will hinge on what the Michigan State offense can do. If the offense can finally click, the Spartans should easily win. If the Spartans struggle, though, then this will be a close game, and not a very fun one to watch when Michigan State is on offense.
15. New Mexico Bowl: Utah State vs North Texas (Saturday, Dec. 15, 2:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Utah State -7.5; O/U: 68.5
Don’t let the line on this game fool you. These are two very, very good teams. Each has a high-powered offense and a stout defense. Utah State might not come out to play well after Head Coach Matt Wells left for Texas Tech, but Gary Andersen is returning after rough stints at Wisconsin and Oregon State. The Aggies know they could end up with a national ranking, and North Texas is playing for some national respect and a ten-win season. These are just two very good Group of 5 teams, and this should provide us with a great matchup. It’s the second bowl game of the season, but it’s one of the best.
14. Music City Bowl: Auburn vs Purdue (Friday, Dec. 28, 1:30 PM, ESPN)
Line: Auburn -4; O/U: 54.5
I’m honestly excited for this game. Not because it will be a good one — there’s a good chance it won’t be –but because just about anything can happen. I could see a tight, low-scoring game, a barnburner, or either team winning in a blowout. If I have to pick between those four possibilities, I can’t even give a guess which is the most likely. Each team has big-play potential, has been sluggish at times this season, has been highly motivated, or has just packed games in. What will we get from each team? Who knows? And that’s exciting… at least until halftime, for sure.
13. Liberty Bowl: No. 24 Missouri vs Oklahoma State (Monday, Dec. 31, 3:45 PM, ESPN)
Line: Missouri -9.5; O/U: 73.5
It’s hard to find a more enigmatic team this season than Oklahoma State. The ‘Pokes have an incredible quarterback in Taylor Cornelius, and the offense can be the best in the country at times. In its biggest games, Oklahoma State blew out Boise State, beat Texas, beat West Virginia, and came inches away from beating Oklahoma. The rest of the season, this team collapsed. Missouri, on the other hand, has been solid all season, with a strong offense and a decent defense. If the “big game” Oklahoma State team shows up, expect some major fireworks this game and a lot of fun. If the other Cowboys show up, though, expect Missouri to win in an easy — and boring — blowout.
12. Gator Bowl: No. 21 Texas A&M vs N.C. State (Monday, Dec. 31, 7:30 PM, ESPN)
Line: Texas A&M -6.5; O/U: 58.5
N.C. State might have faded down the stretch (or shown that it was overrated all along), but this should be a very good football game. These are two talented teams, and each wants to end a good — but on some level disappointing — season on a strong note. Will Texas A&M bring any real intensity after ending the season with a 7OT win over LSU? That might determine what happens in this game, but either way both teams have lots of talented players on offense, so it will be fun to see them duke it out.
11. Citrus Bowl: No. 13 Penn State vs No. 16 Kentucky (Tuesday, Jan. 1, 1:00 PM, ABC)
Line: Penn State -6.5; O/U: 47.5
If this game seems low on this list to you, it’s because I’m not impressed with either team this season. Both teams are loaded with talent, and neither managed to show it off all year. This may be recognized as one of the best Kentucky teams in decades, but these Wildcats barely survived way too many close games by relying solely on their defense. Both of these teams consistently played inferior teams close, when those games should have been blowouts. Will this bowl game be a close game and a hard-fought battle? Probably. Will it be a game that you look back on and think that you really enjoyed it? Probably not. There are two other games (Outback Bowl and Fiesta Bowl) at this same time slot, and both will probably be better games than this.
10. Quick Lane Bowl: Minnesota vs Georgia Tech (Wednesday, Dec. 26, 5:15 PM, ESPN)
Line: Georgia Tech -6; O/U: 60
Honestly, this game doesn’t deserve to be so high on its own merits. The triple-option is always risky in bowls, and neither of these teams were particularly impressive this season. Georgia Tech did finish the season strong, and Minnesota played a great game to beat down Wisconsin and become bowl eligible. Still, other than seeing if Minnesota is developing under P.J. Fleck the way the school expects, this game isn’t noteworthy- except for the fact that it’s Coach Paul Johnson’s final game. He’s a coaching legend, for many reasons, and his flexbone offense will be missed. Watch him in this game, because you won’t get another chance.
9. Outback Bowl: No. 18 Mississippi State vs Iowa (Tuesday, Jan. 1, 12:00 PM, ESPN2)
Line: Mississippi State -7; O/U: 46
Both of these teams are enigmatic, which means that this game could go any way. The Bulldogs didn’t show much in losses to Florida and Kentucky, and looked pretty good against both Alabama and Texas A&M. The offense struggled far more than you would have expected in SEC play, and Iowa’s strength on the defensive line could cause problems. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, looked solid to start the season (that loss to Wisconsin looks ugly now, though), but just couldn’t get over the hump against Penn State, Purdue, or Northwestern. These two teams should play some good, old-fashioned, smash-mouth football, with some fun deep shots thrown in. Should be a great game.
8. Camping World Bowl: No. 15 West Virginia vs No. 17 Syracuse (Friday, Dec. 28, 5:15 PM, ESPN)
Line: West Virginia -1.5; O/U: 68
We have to wait almost two weeks for our first ranked battle of bowl season, and it will probably be worth it. These teams have explosive offenses, even if West Virginia is missing quarterback Will Grier and offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste. The Mountaineers probably would’ve been heavy favorites without those two players, so this could give us a better game anyway. West Virginia’s offense is still potent, and so is Syracuse’s. Each team has a decent defense (usually), but both of these offenses should be good enough to overpower that and give us a barnburner, where a few crucial stops will make the difference.
7. Sugar Bowl: No. 6 Georgia vs No. 14 Texas (Tuesday, Jan. 1, 8:45 PM, ESPN)
Line: Georgia -12; O/U: 58
Maybe this game could be a little higher on this list, but there are too many unknowns. How motivated will Georgia be after a brutal comeback loss against Alabama? Then again, will Texas be motivated after losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game? Georgia is the more talented team, so the Bulldogs should win if both teams play their best. Sam Ehlinger is a mobile quarterback who might be able to cause the Georgia defense some trouble, but it’s hard to see this game staying close if the Bulldogs are fully motivated. (Of course, the last time we said that about a Tom Herman offense, Ohio State upset Alabama back in 2014.)
6. Alamo Bowl: No. 12 Washington State vs No. 25 Iowa State (Friday, Dec. 28, 9:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Washington State -3.5; O/U: 55
This over/under is set way too low. Yes, each of these teams have very underrated defenses. But the offenses — especially Iowa State with Brock Purdy at quarterback — can light things up. Teams will get stops, but they’re also each going to score at least 30 points. How each team navigates the other’s defense will make this game exciting. Players like Purdy and Gardner Minshew — and obviously Washington State coach Mike Leach — will make this game fun to watch, regardless of outcome.
5. Fiesta Bowl: No. 7 UCF vs No. 11 LSU (Tuesday, Jan. 1, 1:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: LSU -8; O/U: 54.5
I know two things about this game: LSU is favored by way too much, and that over/under is way too low. The Knights might not have the strength on the lines that LSU has, but they have the talent and speed to make up for it. The loss of Mackenzie Milton hurts, but Darriel Mack is a good quarterback in his own right, and the best dual-threat QB that LSU has faced all season. The Tigers, meanwhile, should have the strength to impose its will on the UCF defensive line for much of the game. They might be methodical, but expect LSU to be able to sustain drives. I have no idea who will win, but I’m pretty confident that we’ll see a lot of points.
4. Peach Bowl: No. 8 Michigan vs No. 10 Florida (Saturday, Dec. 29, 12:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Michigan -7.5; O/U: 51.5
This game has an odd quirk. Fans of the teams in the game aren’t really overly interested in watching it (though they obviously will anyway), while neutral fans should love it. It’s a Top 10 matchup between two teams loaded with talent. Neither has a particularly explosive offense, but both move the ball and put up points behind a strong offensive line. It’s the third meeting in as many years between these two schools. Michigan has won the last two; will Florida — with a new coach — finally get revenge?
3. Rose Bowl: No. 5 Ohio State vs No. 9 Washington (Tuesday, Jan. 1, 5:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Ohio State -6.5; O/U: 58
It’s the Granddaddy of Them All, and there’s no other game more fitting for Urban Meyer to end his career on. He faces Chris Petersen, who will take Meyer’s place (along with Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney) as one of the top three coaches in college football currently. Both of these teams haven’t played their best this season, but on talent alone these could each be Playoff teams. Let’s hope that Dwayne Haskins, Jake Browning, and everyone else on these teams show us their full abilities, because if they do we should be in for an absolute treat. No other game (aside from those involving Clemson and Alabama) has this much talent or coaches this good. It’s fitting that his first Rose Bowl will be Urban Meyer’s final game. You don’t have to like him as a person to respect his coaching ability and what he’s done for college football. Don’t miss this opportunity to see him one final time, as he rides off into the beautiful Pasadena sunset.
2. Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 2 Clemson vs No. 3 Notre Dame (Saturday, Dec. 29, 4:00 PM, ESPN)
Line: Clemson -10.5; O/U: 55.5
I was tempted to not have the CFP semifinal games as the top two games. So many of these other bowl games will be great, and it’s hard to expect too much of Notre Dame (or Oklahoma). Clemson and Alabama are so far ahead of the field- which is why these two semifinal games have two of the highest lines in all the bowl games. At the end, though, Notre Dame is a very good team, and Brian Kelly is a great coach. It will take a lot of work to properly prepare and make this a close game, but it’s certainly possible. Could the Peach Bowl be a better game than this? Probably. But Notre Dame is good enough that we’ll say this is more of a must-watch game.
1. Orange Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs No. 4 Oklahoma (Saturday, Dec. 29, 8 PM, ESPN)
Line: Alabama -14; O/U: 79.5
Actually, I really don’t think this will be the best game of the bowl season. I might be wrong, though, so that’s why I’m putting it at the top spot. I feel like the college football world is trying to convince itself that this game will be a great one. The potential is certainly there. Alabama has never faced an offense this good, and the Oklahoma defensive line can get some pressure on Tua Tagovailoa (or Jalen Hurts). So yeah, maybe Oklahoma has a chance to pull off a miracle. At the end of the day, though, Oklahoma’s defense is a sieve and Alabama’s offense is a juggernaut. Alabama’s defense, meanwhile, is better than any that Oklahoma has faced. It would take a near-miracle for the Sooners to keep this close, especially as the game goes on. That’s why we watch though- because when those miracles happen, they last forever. This is the most must-watch bowl game not because it’s likely to be a good game. This is must-watch because it’s not likely to be a good game- but if it does turn out to be great, you’ll really regret missing it.