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Watching College Football: BOWL WEEK 3/PLAYOFF

Welcome to the best games of the year. Mostly.

Ideally, the final days of college football’s bowl season should have the most competitive games between the best teams. These games are the real humdingers, the ones that mean something. We’ve saved the best for last.

…That’s the idea.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of excitement within this weekend! But who let the Belk Bowl in the door? And what’s the Outback Bowl doing here?

Fear not! For one last grand hurrah this football season, I’m here to help you decide what bowl games you should watch, based on predicted entertainment value (which is a fancy way of saying “this should be fun”).

The usual two caveats apply: if your team is playing you should watch them, and all times are in God’s Time (CST). Let’s get to it.

**SAT 12/29**

WATCH

  • Cotton Bowl/CFB Playoff Semifinal (Clemson vs. Notre Dame, 3p, ESPN): The College Football Playoff nearly always produces good football (yes, I remember FSU vs. Oregon a few years back, that was an exception). The Irish feel disrespected by a national media that blithely assumes Clemson will coast to the championship. But three late suspensions of Clemson defensive players (including an all-ACC starter) have opened the door for Ian Book and Notre Dame to head to the promised land. They just have to step out in faith and walk through the d – wait, wrong Christian denomination.
  • Orange Bowl/CFB Playoff Semifinal (Alabama vs. Oklahoma, 7p, ESPN): A few big storylines here. First, Bama really thinks Tua should have won the Heisman. So they’re fired up to give Sooner QB Kyler Murray fits before he goes off to play baseball in Oakland. But wait! Here’s the twist: Tua’s banged up, so Nick Saban might start Jalen Hurts instead! Regardless, because OU’s defense is weak sauce and Bama’s is, um, not, one would expect the Tide to breeze to victory if everything clicks.

MAYBE WATCH

  • Peach Bowl (Florida vs. Michigan, 11a, ESPN): The pundits hating on this bowl are only doing so because we see this matchup almost every year. Based on the numbers, this edition should be good. Both of these teams are – how do I put this delicately – inconsistent. They’re good for the most part, with flashes of spectacular incompetence. Two squads like that trading blows either means a fun game or a meh one. No idea which kind this will be.
  • Arizona Bowl (Arkansas State vs. Nevada, 12:15p, CBSSN): WAIT WAIT WHERE ARE YOU GOING LET ME EXPLAIN. These are two evenly matched teams and the only other OK viewing option at this time is the aforementioned Peach Bowl. If you get CBS Sports Network and the Peach Bowl isn’t good, flip over here.

DON’T WATCH

  • Belk Bowl (South Carolina vs. Virginia, 11a, ABC)

**MON 12/31**

WATCH

  • Redbox Bowl (Oregon vs. Michigan State, 2:30p, FOX): The line here has been all over the place. Oregon was, at one point this year, a really fun-to-watch zoomy offensive squad reminiscent of the Ducks from a few years ago. Michigan State has underachieved but is still dangerous, with the second best defense in the nation. It’s an OK matchup that could produce some fun, but it’s not the best game of the afternoon. That honor goes to…
  • Liberty Bowl (Mizzou vs. Oklahoma State, 2:45p, ESPN): There’s almost a guarantee of high point totals here with explosive offenses and faltering defenses on both sides. If you like big plays, take a look at this seriously underrated game.

MAYBE WATCH

  • Holiday Bowl (Northwestern vs. Utah, 6p, FS1): Utah has come on strong down the stretch, but with a disappointing loss in the Pac-12 Championship they found themselves in this clunker against Northwestern. Expect the Utes to take out their frustration on the Wildcats.
  • Gator Bowl (Texas A&M vs. NC State, 6:30p, ESPN): Hi, Aggy! Fancy seeing you here. I fully expect an A&M win, as NC State was only kinda good in the worst conference this season. The question is how silly the path to Aggy’s inevitable victory will be.

DON’T WATCH

  • Military Bowl (Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech, 11a, ESPN)
  • Sun Bowl (Stanford vs. Pittsburgh, 1p, CBS)

**TUE 1/1**

WATCH

  • Fiesta Bowl (UCF vs. LSU, 12p, ESPN): UCF wanted Bama, but got a very game LSU instead! If the Knights wanted a chance to prove they can give Playoff-caliber teams a run for their money, then they have one here. These Tigers are better than last year’s Auburn species. A UCF win would only lead to louder cries for playoff expansion, especially from yours truly, and yet another offseason of the Knights claiming they’re national champions, which would be soooooooo funny.
  • Rose Bowl (Washington vs. Ohio State, 4p, ESPN): It’s Urban Meyer’s last bowl game, and it remains to be seen how that affects the Buckeyes. The Huskies are hot at the right time, but will they revert back to their early-and-midseason woes?
  • Sugar Bowl (Texas vs. Georgia, 7:45p, ESPN): I nearly put this in the Maybe Watch category because, come on, we know the outcome. But then I decided against it, because Georgia’s death machine angrily obliterating a flawed Longhorn squad after they didn’t make the Playoff will be peak sports entertainment.

MAYBE WATCH

  • Outback Bowl (Mississippi State vs. Iowa, 11a, ESPN2): Like most food from Outback Steakhouse, this will probably be fine. That’s all.
  • Citrus Bowl (Kentucky vs. Penn State, 12p, ABC): Both of these teams certainly did enough to impress me during the regular season (especially the Wildcats, where the heck did they come from). But other than Benny Snell Jr. battling Penn State’s 11th ranked defense, there’s not much I’m excited about here.

**MON 1/8**

WATCH

  • CFB Playoff National Championship Game (7p, ESPN): OF COURSE YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS.

Thanks for reading along this year! Watching College Football will return next August, and in the meantime I’ll still be writing here at The Resurgent. Talk to you soon!

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