There are a ridiculous 38 bowl games in college football this winter if one counts the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Doing the quick math, that means there are more than 70 college football teams playing postseason games to cap their seasons.
Clearly the sport has shifted to a model where every team gets a trophy and every bowl game rep gets a hefty paycheck from a corporate sponsor purchasing naming rights for these mostly insignificant games.
But through all of the madness, there are actually several opportunities for entertainment this bowl season – lots of quality matchups are out there for college football viewers to enjoy.
It takes a little bit of effort to do the research and to comb through the slate of games, but luckily for you, I’ve done the hard work and have created a viewing guide to help us get through the bowl season.
Ranking the College Football Bowl Season:
THE THROWAWAY GAMES:
No. 38 – South Alabama vs. Bowling Green (Raycom Camellia Bowl) – Don’t watch this game unless the only other thing on TV is ‘Watching Paint Dry 101’. Both teams are awful, and neither should have the right to play postseason football. Bowling Green plays an up-tempo offense that will make LSU’s offense look like Oregon. South Alabama gets only the players Auburn and Alabama don’t want – and it shows. Don’t watch.
No. 37 – Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky (Bahamas Bowl) – Central Michigan lost by 14 points to Kansas, who is arguably the worst major-conference football team in America. Western Kentucky lost by 49 points to Louisiana Tech, who lost to Northwestern State of the Southland Conference. Enough said.
No. 36 – Fresno State vs. Rice (Hawaii Bowl) – Fresno State isn’t even. 500. They are 6-7 on the season. How is it even possible to be below .500 and be in a bowl? As for Rice, they gave up 76 points in their final game of 2014 – a beating at the hands of Louisiana Tech.
No. 35 – Toledo vs. Arkansas State (GoDaddy Bowl) – Nothing against either team, but this just isn’t an appealing matchup. Arkansas State boasts a high-powered offense, but against Toledo, is anything they do really that impressive?
No. 34 – Utah State vs. UTEP (New Mexico Bowl) – Neither one of these teams boast a quarterback with more than 2,000 yards passing this season. Watching this game will be like watching LSU play offense – over and over and over again. Does that sound fun to you? It doesn’t sound fun to me either.
THE BARELY INTERESTING:
No. 33 – Houston vs. Pitt (Armed Forces Bowl) – Gosh, this game was so close to being on the unwatchable list. But because Houston’s offense is usually pretty entertaining, we’ll slide it in as the first kinda/sorta interesting bowl.
No. 32 – Western Michigan vs. Air Force (Potato Bowl) – This is only watchable because it’s entertaining to watch a team run a triple-option offense in the year 2014. Air Force does that. The game is on blue turf, as well. That has to count for something.
No. 31 – Navy vs. San Diego State (Poinsettia Bowl) – Same as No. 32. Navy’s triple-option offense will be worth the watch – at least for a few minutes.
No. 30 – Boston College vs. Penn State (Pinstripe Bowl) – Both of these teams are utterly horrible – years away from being competitive in their respective conferences. But Penn State coach James Franklin is always must-see TV.
No. 29 – Marshall vs. Northern Illinois (Boca Raton Bowl) – Believe it or not, but Marshall was undefeated deep into 2014. Their offense is pretty dog-gone good, and we expect this one to be a pretty entertaining shootout between a pair of really good offensive teams.
No. 28 – BYU vs. Memphis (Miami Beach Bowl) – If Cougars starting quarterback Taysom Hill were healthy, this game would be far higher on the list. As it stands, it’s only interesting because we want to see how a Mormon-laden team responds to spending a week in Miami. #PartyTime
No. 27 – Rutgers vs. North Carolina (Quick Lane Bowl) – Neither one of these teams is any good. We rank it this high because it’s two major-conference teams. If not for that, it’d be in the 30s.
No. 26 – Tennessee vs. Iowa (TaxSlayer Bowl) – With all due respect to Tennessee, Iowa football is boring. LSU fans saw that first-hand last year. Put this one on before your scheduled naptime. You’ll fall fast asleep in no time.
THE MODERATELY INTERESTING:
No. 25 – Minnesota vs. Missouri (Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl) – Both teams are rather uninteresting, but Buffalo Wild Wings, of course, owns that magic button to make all games dramatic.
No. 24 – Washington vs. Oklahoma State (Cactus Bowl) – Both of these teams are headed in opposite directions. With Chris Petersen, one would think the Huskies are on the way up. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, may have seen its brightest days under Mike Gundy.
No. 23 – Maryland vs. Stanford (Farms Bowl) – This game wouldn’t be as high on the list if not for selfish reasons. I just love watching the Cardinal play defense. They are so disciplined and entertaining.
No. 22 – Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech (Heart of Dallas Bowl) – The Bulldogs score a ton of points. They’ll be outclassed against a major-conference foe, but they should make things exciting at the very least.
No. 21 – Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech (Military Bowl) – Frank Beamer is a legend, and this may be the legend’s final game on the sidelines. That, alone, makes this game worth tuning into.
No. 20 – Nevada vs. UL-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl) – Historically, the New Orleans Bowl would be No. 38 on our list. But when Vandebilt graduate Elijah McGuire is on the field, it becomes TV worth watching.
No. 19 – Utah vs. Colorado State (Las Vegas Bowl) – Utah had a surprisingly good year this year. But so did Colorado State – who was so good that its head coach got the Florida job. This one should be pretty well-played on both sides.
No. 18 – NC State vs. UCF (St. Petersburg Bowl) – I’ve only watched NC State twice this year – when they played Florida State and Syracuse. Both games were pretty dog-gone good. Former Florida quarterback Jacoby Brissett turned out to be quite a nice player.
No. 17 – East Carolina vs. Florida (Birmingham Bowl) – On paper, Florida should hammer an outmatched East Carolina team. But without a head coach in place, anything goes. It’s always good to see an SEC rival implode. I can’t wait to see what Florida does in this game. We will learn a lot about the character of this team in the game.
No. 16 – Miami vs. South Carolina (Independence Bowl) – Both of these teams are complete non-factors. But it’s Steve Spurrier versus Miami, so it makes the game a worthwhile one to watch.
No. 15 – Nebraska vs. USC (Holiday Bowl) – Nebraska just fired an annual nine-win coach to hire a guy who has struggled to get six or seven wins the past few years. USC should hammer the Cornhuskers, and it should be pretty fun to watch.
THE ONES TO POP POPCORN FOR:
No. 15 – Georgia vs. Louisville (Belk Bowl) – Anytime Bobby Petrino faces an SEC school, it’s a game that I’m watching for four quarters.
No. 14 – Texas A&M vs. West Virginia (Liberty Bowl) – The Mountaineers almost beat Alabama to open the year. Now, they get a crack at a Manziel-less Texas A&M team gasping for air. We expect tons of points and an absolute shootout – a perfect made-for-TV slugfest.
No. 13 – Clemson vs. Oklahoma (Russell Athletic Bowl) – Bob Stoops and the Sooners are unranked heading into the bowl season. I want to see how this one plays itself out. At some point, he has to be placed on the hotseat, right?
No. 12 – Arizona State vs. Duke (Sun Bowl) – Arguably two of the best offensive coaches square off in a warm-weather bowl. May the first team to 50 points win.
No. 11 – Boise State vs. Arizona (Fiesta Bowl) – The last time Boise State was in the Fiesta Bowl, they tried every trick in the book to beat Oklahoma. Will lightening strike twice? I’ll be tuned in to find out.
No. 10 – Kansas State vs. UCLA (Alamo Bowl) – Bill Snyder versus Jim Mora. Has there ever been a matchup of two coaches who are more opposite in personality? The Bruins are more talented, but the Wildcats will be more hyped up to play.
No. 9 – Mississippi State vs. Georgia Tech (Orange Bowl) – Georgia Tech usually doesn’t fare so well when opponents have time to prep for their triple option attack. We think the ACC’s hot streak over the SEC ends in a big way in this one.
No. 8 – Arkansas vs. Texas (Texas Bowl) – The Hogs and Longhorns are a pair of programs trending upward. Which one will win and take momentum into next year? The winner of this game may have a huge 2015.
No. 7 – Auburn vs. Wisconsin (Outback Bowl) – Heisman-caliber halfback Melvin Gordon versus one of the worst rushing defenses in America. Yup, it’ll be fun to see how many the NFL-bound tailback racks up versus the SEC’s other Tigers.
No. 6 – LSU vs. Notre Dame (Music City Bowl) – We’re biased, obviously, but I think LSU’s meeting with Notre Dame will be interesting. Will Brandon Harris finally play? Will either side be motivated to play? I think so. This game should be closer than the past two bowl games between these rivals. How will LSU blowout anyone with Anthony Jennings at quarterback?
No. 5 – Ole Miss vs. TCU (Peach Bowl) – TCU’s playoff gripes will really begin to hold weight if it can beat the only squad who knocked off Alabama on the season.
No. 4 – Baylor vs. Michigan State (Cotton Bowl) – One of the nation’s best offenses will face one of the nation’s best defenses in what will be Baylor’s test to show it was a Top 4 foe. If motivated, this could be a great matchup.
No. 3 – Alabama vs. Ohio State (Sugar Bowl) – The Tide will roll and win by 20-plus points. But it’s the SEC’s debut in the College Football Playoffs. How can we not watch that? Something tells me by about the mid-point of the second quarter, Urban Meyer will be having some serious chest pains.
No. 2 – Oregon vs. Florida State (Rose Bowl) – Clearly the juiciest of the semifinals matchups. Can Jameis Winston beat the Ducks’ suspect defense? Can the Ducks dethrone the somewhat lucky defending champs? My eyes will be glued.
No. 1 – Winner of No. 3 vs. Winner of No. 2 (National Championship Game) – Of course, it all leads to the big enchilada – the National Championship Game. I suspect Florida State will play Alabama in the big game. If that’s the case, boy what a matchup that’ll be. That’d be a fitting end to an entertaining, exciting college football season. As for my pick? I have Alabama over Florida State in the National Title Game.