Written by Suzanne Halliburton Suzanne Halliburton
Category: National National

You’ve probably been going through college football withdrawal.  Thanksgiving weekend was the last time we feasted on a full spread of games. There was championship weekend; then playoff berths were solidified; and bowl invitations were offered.

Now, it’s time to enjoy 39 bowl games, not counting No. 40, the national championship with teams to be determined.

The festivities start Dec. 15 with the New Mexico Bowl. The final bowl is set for New Year’s night, with Texas and Georgia celebrating the holiday in New Orleans.

We’re not giving anything away by saying top-ranked Alabama against No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl is the one game everyone should watch. The last time the top two finishers in the Heisman Trophy voting faced each other in a bowl game was Jan. 4, 2006, when runner-up Vince Young led the Longhorns to the national title over Reggie Bush and the USC Trojans.bowls

Here’s how we rank this year’s bowl games, from 39 to 1, an annual worst-to-first feature that judges games based on matchups, storylines and watchability. We skip the national championship game for obvious reasons. And after it’s all over, we’ll come back with our new — and possibly improved — rankings of how the bowls played out:

39. Famous Idaho Potato

Dec. 21, Boise, ESPN (3 p.m.)

Western Michigan (7-5) vs. BYU (6-6): Can Western Michigan freshman Kaleb Eleby and a strong running game pull off an upset of a mediocre 6-6 BYU squad?

38. Camellia

Dec. 15, Montgomery, Ala., ESPN (4:30 p.m.)

Georgia Southern (9-3) vs. Eastern Michigan (7-5): Georgia Southern is the ninth-best team in the country running the ball. And it all goes through Shai Werts, who has gained 822 yards this season on his option keepers.

37. Dollar General

Dec. 22, Mobile, Ala., ESPN (6 p.m.)

Buffalo (10-3) vs. Troy (9-3): Troy is going for its fourth consecutive bowl win and third straight 10-win season. Buffalo sports quarterback Tyree Jackson, the MAC offensive player of the year.

36. Independence

Dec. 27, Shreveport, ESPN (12:30 p.m.)

Temple (8-4) vs. Duke (7-5): Temple interim coach Ed Foley told reporters that the Owls were “going to be one of the greatest teams you’ve ever had here; I’ll promise you that.” It’s the team that former Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will inherit next season; he was hired as Temple’s next head coach on Thursday.

35. Cure

Dec. 15, Orlando, CBSSN (12:30 p.m.)

Louisiana-Lafayette (7-6) vs. Tulane (6-6): Two Louisiana schools will battle it out in Orlando. Look for Ragin’ Cajuns tailback Trey Regas to try and run over the Green Wave’s D. He’s got 1,141 yards this season and has posted two straight 100-yard games.

34. Arizona

Dec. 29, Tucson, CBSSN (12:15 p.m.)

Arkansas State (8-4) vs. Nevada (7-5): It’s the Red Wolves versus the Wolf Pack. Arkansas State features the Sun Belt’s award winners for offensive, defensive, freshman and newcomer of the year.

Dec. 20, Tampa, ESPN (7 p.m.)

Marshall (8-4) vs. South Florida (7-5): The Thundering Herd have won all five bowl games under coach Doc Holliday and are 11-3 in bowls in program history. Conversely, Charlie Strong’s Bulls lost their last five regular-season games. But South Florida is hosting this game at its own stadium.

Dec. 18, Boca Raton, Fla., ESPN (6 p.m.)

Northern Illinois (8-5) vs. Alabama-Birmingham (10-3): This is the only non-New Year’s Six bowl to feature two league champions — UAB won Conference USA and Northern Illinois earned the MAC title.

Dec. 21, Nassau, ESPN (11:30 a.m.)

Florida International (8-4) vs. Toledo (7-5): Toledo averages 41 points per game, 11th-best in the country, by running the ball. FIU, coached by Butch Davis, is trying for a school-record ninth win.

Dec. 26, Detroit, ESPN (4:15 p.m.)

Georgia Tech (7-5) vs. Minnesota (6-6): It’s Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson’s final game. He announced his retirement last month.

Dec. 29, Charlotte, ABC (11 a.m.)

Virginia (7-5) vs. South Carolina (7-5): Deebo Samuel, the Gamecocks’ electric receiver and returner, won’t play. He’s prepping for the NFL draft. Virginia hasn’t recorded a win over a Power Five team since Oct. 27.

Dec. 19, Frisco, ESPN (7 p.m.)

San Diego State (7-5) vs. Ohio (8-4): Love a good running game? You’re going to adore this matchup. Ohio features three backs who have gained more than 800 yards each.

Dec. 26, Phoenix, ESPN (8 p.m.)

California (7-5) vs. TCU (6-6): It’s the Big 12′s top defense versus the Pac 12′s third best. Points will be at a premium.

Dec. 15, New Orleans, ESPN (8 p.m.)

Middle Tennessee (8-5) vs. Appalachian State (10-2): Keep an eye on the father-son combo at Middle Tennessee. Rick Stocksill was named Conference USA’s coach of the year. It’ll be the last game with his son, quarterback Brett Stocksill, who was the league MVP.

Dec. 26, Dallas, ESPN (12:30 p.m.)

25-Boise State (10-3) vs. Boston College (7-5): This game features two stat-happy tailbacks. Boise State’s Alexander Mattison is seventh in the country with 1,415 yards. Boston College counters with AJ Dillon, who despite missing two games with a bad ankle has rushed for 1,108.

Dec. 27, Houston, ESPN (8 p.m.)

Vanderbilt (6-6) vs. Baylor (6-6): After a yearlong absence, Baylor is back in the postseason. Vandy features Ke’Shawn Vaughn, a 1,000-yard runner who averages an SEC-best 7 yards a carry.

Dec. 31, Annapolis, Md., ESPN (11 a.m.)

Cincinnati (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6): Virginia Tech has reached a bowl game for 26 straight years, the nation’s longest streak.

Dec. 31, El Paso, CBS (1:15 p.m.)

Pittsburgh (7-5) vs. Stanford (8-4): Bryce Love, a 2017 Heisman finalist who struggled some this season, is the class of the bowl.

Dec. 22, Honolulu, ESPN (9:30 p.m.)

Louisiana Tech (7-5) vs. Hawaii (8-5): Hawaii’s Cole McDonald has thrown for 35 touchdowns and nearly 3,800 yards this season. However, the Louisiana Tech defense already has handled the strong offenses of North Texas and Florida Atlantic.

Dec. 22, Fort Worth, ESPN (2:30 p.m.)

Houston (8-4) vs. 24-Army (10-2): Watch to appreciate the beautiful precision of Army’s option attack. Houston won’t have quarterback D’Eriq King (injury) or defensive tackle Ed Oliver (focusing on the draft).

Dec. 15, Las Vegas, ABC (2:35 p.m.)

Arizona State (7-5) vs. 21-Fresno State (11-2): Jeff Tedford has Fresno State, his alma mater, on the cusp of winning 12 games. Meanwhile, Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin is 42 yards away from a school record for rushing in a season. Star receiver N’Keal Harry decided to skip the game and turn pro.

Jan. 1, Tampa, ESPN2 (11:05 a.m.)

18-Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Iowa (8-4): If you love watching smash-mouth defense, you’re in luck. Both teams rank in the top 10 in rushing.

Dec. 28, Orlando, ESPN (4:15 p.m.)

16-West Virginia vs. 20-Syracuse: It’s a renewal of old Big East rivalry, but with WVU quarterback Will Grier opting not to play to train for the draft, this matchup has lost some of its luster.

Dec. 28, Nashville, ESPN (12:30 p.m.)

Purdue (6-6) vs. Auburn (7-5): Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham is sticking around to play one final game before going pro. Keep an eye on Purdue’s David Blough, one of the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks.

Dec. 15, Albuquerque, ESPN (1 p.m.)

Utah State (10-2) vs. North Texas (9-3): Utah State’s Matt Wells recently was hired to take over Texas Tech. Meanwhile, North Texas’ Sean Littrell, the former Oklahoma running back, has been a hot name in all the coaching searches. The star will be UNT quarterback Mason Fine, the back-to-back winner of Conference USA’s player of the year.

Dec. 31, Memphis, ESPN (2:45 p.m.)

23-Missouri (8-4) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6): This game will feature lots of passes, with Taylor Cornelius facing off against Drew Locke.

Dec. 22, Birmingham, Ala., ESPN (11 a.m.)

Memphis (8-5) vs. Wake Forest (6-6): This game lost some oomph when Memphis star running back Darrell Henderson, a unanimous All-American, opted to skip the game and go pro. But still watch because of Memphis’ offense, which averages 534 yards per game.

Dec. 27, New York City, ESPN (4:15 p.m.)

Miami (7-5) vs. Wisconsin (7-5): It’s a rematch from last year’s Orange Bowl. This year, both teams underachieved. But watch Badgers tailback Jonathan Taylor, who leads the nation in rushing.

Dec. 31, San Diego, FS1 (6 p.m.)

22-Northwestern (8-5) vs. 17-Utah (9-4): It’s the mini Rose Bowl.

Dec. 29, Atlanta, ESPN (11:10 a.m.)

10-Florida (9-3) vs. 7-Michigan (10-2): It’s the first top-10 match up of the bowl season. Michigan fields the nation’s top defense.

Dec. 31, Santa Clara, Calif., Fox (2:10 p.m.)

Michigan State (7-5) vs. Oregon (8-4): The Ducks’ fabulous rushing attack is working because of freshmen C.J. Verdell and Travis Dye.

Jan. 1, Orlando, ABC (12:10 p.m.)

14-Kentucky (9-3) vs. 12-Penn State (9-3): Check this one out for the great backs — Kentucky’s Benny Snell against Penn State’s Miles Sanders.

Jan. 1, Glendale, Ariz., ESPN (12:15 p.m.)

11-LSU (9-3) vs. 8-Central Florida (12-0): The Knights have won 25 straight, including a victory last January over SEC runner-up Auburn. But they’re without star quarterback McKenzie Milton, who suffered a hideous knee injury last month. The question is whether LSU takes this game seriously.

Dec. 31, Boise, ESPN (6:35 p.m.)

North Carolina State (9-3) vs. 19-Texas A&M (8-4): The Aggies’ weakness on defense is stopping the pass. So the Wolfpack could be a testy matchup. N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley could be a first-round draft pick. But Kelvin Harmon, one of his two, 1,000-yard receivers, is going pro and skipping the game. So is top defender Germaine Pratt. A&M will have had five weeks to rest up from their seven-overtime, 74-72 marathon win over LSU.

Dec. 28, San Antonio, ESPN (8 p.m.)

13-Washington State (10-2) vs. 24-Iowa State (8-4): Cougars coach Mike Leach returns to Texas. The last time he was at Alamo, he was fired by Texas Tech.

Jan. 1, New Orleans, ESPN (7:45 p.m.)

15-Texas (9-4) vs. 5-Georgia (11-2): What a sweet treat for the Longhorns, who haven’t played in a major bowl since the 2009 national title game loss to Alabama at the Rose Bowl. The Bulldogs, the SEC runners-up, were hoping for a playoff invite for the second straight year.

Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif., ESPN (4:10 p.m.)

6-Ohio State (12-1) vs. 9-Washington (10-3): The big plot line is how well Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who finished third in the Heisman voting, can deal with a tough Washington defense. It’s Urban Meyer’s final game, too.

Dec. 29, Arlington, ESPN (3:10 p.m.)

3-Notre Dame (12-0) vs. 2-Clemson (13-0): The first semifinal. Both teams switched quarterbacks. It obviously worked.

Dec. 29, Miami, ESPN (7:10 p.m.)

4-Oklahoma (12-1) vs. 1-Alabama (13-0): The country’s top two offenses and top two players surely will put on a show with everything on the line.

Source: Waxahachie Daily Light