Another Christmas is in the books! It’s my favorite time of the year. I hope there was laughing and paper-tearing and candy-cane-devouring all around at your various houses. And I hope you ended it with an epic feast with family and friends.
But are you all feasted out? I hope not. Because the football feast is just beginning.
That’s right, it’s Bowl Week Part 2, the sequel you’ve probably been eagerly awaiting! Especially after I told you there were only three watchable games during Bowl Week Part 1, and as we know, I am never wrong. (NARRATOR: He was very often wrong.)
But because the rest of bowl season is really weird timing-wise this year, I’m going to make like myself packing for a weeklong trip in a carry-on suitcase and just cram everything in here. That way, you’ll have one convenient place to check out all the matchups remaining.
And these matchups are a tad less clear cut on the Watchability scale. So I’m reintroducing the Maybe Watch category. If the games I mention intrigue you, check ‘em out!
I’m sure I’ll be tweeting up a storm as the year ends, so feel free to follow me at @WatchingCFB on Twitter. I also plan on releasing a final, post-bowl set of Tier Rankings after the National Championship, so look forward to that! And as always, please ignore me and watch your team’s bowl, and all times are in God’s Time Zone (CST). Here goes nothing!
- Texas Bowl (Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M, 5:45p, ESPN): Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s pit an eternally 7-5 Aggie team against all of the raw spite and gumption usually present in every Cowboys team Mike Gundy ever produces! I’m sure this will go well for everyone involved.
- Holiday Bowl (USC vs. Iowa, 7p, FS1): This is probably just a battle of wills. Can the Trojans keep swimming along, led by QB Kedon Slovis, with as few mistakes as possible? Or does Iowa do that thing they kept doing all year and drag USC down to their dark, defense-minded, punt-heavy level? Regardless, this is the only bowl with its own unofficial theme song, so at least you can hum that jaunty tune. Sing along with me now: “I found out long ago/It’s a long way down to the Holiday Bowl/Holiday Bo-OOOOOO-WHOA-HO-HO-WHOA-HO-HO-WHOA-HO-HOOOOOOWL. . .”
- Military Bowl (North Carolina vs. Temple, 11a, ESPN): Temple’s been quietly having a very good year, led by a solid defense and an offense that’s . . . really trying. They’ll try to pull one out against Mack Brown’s Tar Heels, who made it to a bowl game by letting their passing attack gobble up the weakened ACC.
- Pinstripe Bowl (Michigan State vs. Wake Forest, 2:20p, ESPN): Mark Dantonio scowling at everything! A struggling Wake Forest team! Lots of punts, probably! All inside of a baseball stadium! This could be fun! Wait, stop, where are you going?
- Cheez-It Bowl (Air Force vs. Washington State, 9:15p, ESPN): Remember the disgusting spectacle that was last year’s Cheez-It Bowl? Here’s a perfectly good option-running service academy playing an underachieving Mike Leach team! This almost guarantees more points, but it is the Cheez-It Bowl, so forgive me if I’m still haunted by past editions.
- Playoff Semifinal at the Peach Bowl (LSU vs. Oklahoma, 3p, ESPN): Like you were going to miss this. Do I really need to sell you on either Playoff game? Really? OK, fine. It’s an extremely offense-happy Sooner squad vying for glory against the nigh-untouchable Crimson Tide slayers led by Heisman winner Joe Burrow and the best Cookie Monster impersonator on the planet, Coach O. There you go.
- Playoff Semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl (Ohio State vs. Clemson, 7p, ESPN):This one sells itself too. Ohio State looked vulnerable for the first time against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship until they turned on the jets. Clemson looks to capitalize and is favored. But they didn’t play anyone of consequence the whole year. Are the Tigers paper tigers?
- Cotton Bowl (Memphis vs. Penn State, 11a, ESPN): A slight downgrade in watchability because the smart money’s on Penn State to romp here. But if they play down, Memphis has shown opportunistic tendencies. If that sounds fun to you, great! Pick this instead of the Camping World Bowl.
- Camping World Bowl (Notre Dame vs. Iowa State, 11a, ABC): Forgive me if I find neither Brock Purdy’s attempted heroics nor Notre Dame’s *gestures at whole football team* thing compelling. If you do, great! Pick this over the Cotton Bowl.
- Orange Bowl (Florida vs. Virginia, 7p, ESPN): Wanna see an ancient predatory creature with rows of sharp teeth maul some foppish 17th century rapier-wielding dude? Now you can! Metaphorically!
- Music City Bowl (Mississippi State vs. Louisville, 3p, ESPN): It’s frankly a miracle the Cardinals are bowl eligible again so soon. And Mississippi State’s only here because one of Ole Miss’s did something so astronomically stupid after scoring a TD in the Egg Bowl that I still can’t believe it occurred. This collision of weirdness must be witnessed, IMO. But I’d forgive you if you decided to skip it.
- First Responder Bowl (Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan, 11:30a, ESPN)
- Redbox Bowl (Cal vs. Illinois, 3p, FOX)
- Alamo Bowl (Utah vs. Texas, 6:30p, ESPN): Questions abound for Utah. Did their PAC-12 Championship loss to Oregon reveal the Utes as weaker than expected? Did they just have an off game? Will they be angry? Lackadaisical? Whereas the equation is much simpler for the Longhorns. Is Texas back? No. Will they still care enough to play well? Maybe.
- Belk Bowl (Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky, 11a, ESPN): Likely gonna be better than advertised. VT almost made it to the ACC championship game, which means they’re perfectly fine. And Kentucky’s been coming on strong, led by QB Lynn Bowden Jr., their electrifying third-string QB who’s NFL bound after a storybook season.
- Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl (Florida State vs. Arizona State, 1p, CBS): Yes, you read that correctly. It’s not sponsored by Kellogg’s, or Frosted Flakes. The game is sponsored by a giant buff humanoid feline cereal mascot. That’s so weird! And it’s in El Paso, probably the oddest bowl game host city. I mean, what else is in El Paso? Tumbleweeds? Desert plants? So strange. Also some teams will play football in this game, I assume.
- Liberty Bowl (Navy vs. Kansas State, 2:45p, ESPN): Gone are the days of Bill Snyder’s game control offense at KSU, which is now helmed by the former superstar coach of FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. Navy still runs the triple option though, and has been very efficient at it this year.
- Arizona Bowl (Wyoming vs. Georgia State, 3:30p, CBSSN)
- Citrus Bowl (Michigan vs. Alabama, 12p, ABC): How much does Nick Saban care about being at this game? Probably not a whole lot. And the Tide, though extremely formidable, are beat up. Which means if Jim Harbaugh wants to, he can steal a high prestige win that may remove him from the hot seat for good, simultaneously damaging Alabama’s recruiting star and hastening their downfall from atop the sport. Can you say stakes? I can! Stakes!
- Outback Bowl (Minnesota vs. Auburn, 12p, ESPN): PJ Fleck’s upstart Gophers had an impressive year, but they now encounter the best three-loss team in the sport, who also slayed mighty Alabama. I can’t tell you whether this game or the Citrus Bowl will be better. But keep a weather eye on both.
- Rose Bowl (Oregon vs. Wisconsin, 4p, ESPN): Two teams which barely missed out on the Playoff, and which possess very high-level talent. And two top-tier defenses to match. This game will probably exceed expectations by quite a bit.
- Sugar Bowl (Baylor vs. Georgia, 7:45p, ESPN): See above.
- Gator Bowl (Indiana vs. Tennessee, 6p, ESPN): If you’d asked me early in the year if I thought Tennessee had a chance of making a bowl, I would have laughed in your face very loudly! But because I don’t know everything, here’s the Vols trying to knock off a determined Hoosiers squad that wants to fulfill their Twitter destiny and reach their final form of #9WIndiana.
- Birmingham Bowl (Boston College vs. Cincinnati, 2p, ESPN)
- Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Ohio vs. Nevada, 2:30p, ESPN)
- Armed Forces Bowl (Southern Miss vs. Tulane, 10:30a, ESPN)
- LendingTree Bowl (Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Miami of Ohio, 6:30p, ESPN)
- National Championship (7p, ESPN): Look, no matter who’s here, this game will be good.
WHEW! That’s everything! Keep following me (even in the offseason) on Twitter, and I’ll make sure you’re up to speed on any major college football goings-on. Happy watching!