In college football, going bowling is the truest mark of success and accomplishment. Months of work, countless hours of preparation, battling through injuries and mental exhaustion– all for one more hour of playtime.
But there are 41 bowl games that will be taking place between December 19th and the National Playoff Championship on January 11th, which is… a lot. That’s 80 teams (two will have a second game in the Championship), out of the 128 FCS schools in the country. And this year it means that teams with a losing record will be playing in bowl games.
Is it really worth it? Do we really need extra games that, although a sign of some success, are pretty unimportant overall? Do we need to see a game featuring a team with a losing record and a team at .500? The answer is yes. Remember that our great nation will be plunged into roughly seven bleak, meaningless, football-less months in just a few weeks. Let’s tell it like it is: you should be watching as many you can. A complete list is below, along with descriptions of a few you won’t want to miss:
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl: Atlanta
Alcorn State (9-3, 1st in SWAC) vs. North Carolina A&T (9-2, 1st in MEAC)
This is the first ever Celebration Bowl, and it features two dynamic teams representing Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Come for the football; stay for the history. There’s plenty of it.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Albuquerque
Arizona (6-6, 5th in PAC 12 South) vs. New Mexico (7-5, 2nd in MW Mountain)
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Las Vegas
BYU (9-3) vs. Utah (9-3, 1st in PAC 12 South)
The Holy War helps kick off the bowl season this year. Remember when Utah was considered one of the best teams in the country? They received first place votes for three weeks.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Montgomery, Alabama
Ohio (8-4, 2nd in MAC East) vs. Appalachian State (10-2, 2nd in Sun Belt)
Cure Bowl: Orlando
San Jose State (5-7, 2nd in MW West) vs. Georgia State (6-6, 4th in Sun Belt)
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: New Orleans
Arkansas State (9-3, 1st in Sun Belt) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4, 2nd in C-USA West)
Miami Beach Bowl: Miami
Western Kentucky (11-2, 1st in C-USA East) vs. South Florida (8-4, 2nd in American Athletic East)
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Boise
Akron (7-5, 2nd in MAC East) vs. Utah State (6-6, 2nd in MW Mountain)
Consider this your annual opportunity to watch football played on a blue field.
Marmot Boca Raton Bowl: Boca Raton, Florida
Toledo (9-2, 1st in MAC West) vs. Temple (10-3, 1st in American Athletic East)
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego
Boise State (8-4, 2nd in MW Mountain) vs. Northern Illinois (8-5, 1st in MAC West)
GoDaddy Bowl: Mobile, Alabama
Georgia Southern (8-4, 3rd in Sun Belt) vs. Bowling Green (10-3, 1st in MAC East)
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl: Nassau, Bahamas
Middle Tennessee (7-5, 2nd in C-USA East) vs. Western Michigan (7-5, 1st in MAC West)
This one is the only game not taking place on United State soil. Watch it for foreign diplomacy.
Hawai’i Bowl: Honolulu
San Diego State (10-3, 1st in MW West) vs. Cincinnati (7-5, 3rd in American Athletic East)
St. Petersburg Bowl: St. Petersburg, Florida
Connecticut (6-6, 3rd in American Athletic East) vs. Marshall (9-3, 2nd in C-USA East)
Hyundai Sun Bowl: El Paso, Texas
Miami (8-4, 3rd in ACC Coastal) vs. Washington State (8-4, 3rd in PAC 12 North)
Miami is welcoming a new coach, and WSU seems to be on the verge of becoming a top contender. This game will help dictate the rest of the offseason for both programs.
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Dallas
Washington (6-6, 4th in PAC 12 North) vs. Southern Miss (9-4, 1st in C-USA West)
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Bronx, New York
Indiana (6-6, 5th in BIG 10 East) vs. Duke (7-5, 4th in ACC Coastal)
Indiana took the best of the BIG 10 to the wire in plenty of their games, and they rank 18th in total offense. Look for them to finally close one out.
Camping World Independence Bowl: Shreveport, Louisiana
Tulsa (6-6, 4th in American Athletic West) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6, 4th in ACC Coastal)
Foster Farms Bowl: Santa Clara, California
UCLA (8-4, 3rd in PAC 12 South) vs. Nebraska (5-7, 4th in BIG 10 West)
Military Bowl: Annapolis, Maryland
Pittsburgh (8-4, 2nd in ACC Coastal) vs. Navy (10-2, 1st in American Athletic West)
Quick Lane Bowl: Detroit
Central Michigan (7-5, 1st in MAC West) vs. Minnesota (5-7, 5th in BIG 10 West)
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Ft. Worth, Texas
California (7-5, 4th in PAC 12 North) vs. Air Force (8-5, 1st in MW Mountain)
Russell Athletic Bowl: Orlando
North Carolina (11-2, 1st in ACC Coastal) vs. Baylor (9-3, 4th in BIG 12)
Baylor is hurting and just lost to Texas. North Carolina was a “questionable” call away from possibly beating Clemson… but the Bears won’t give up easily. This could be a trap game for the Tar Heels.
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl: Tucson, Arizona
Nevada (6-6, 2nd in MW West) vs. Colorado State (7-5, 2nd in MW Mountain)
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Houston
LSU (8-3, 3rd in SEC West) vs. Texas Tech (7-5, 5th in BIG 12)
LSU took a lot of hits after dropping three straight, but let’s not forget that Leonard Fournette is still Leonard Fournette, and Texas Tech ranks 126th against the rush. Texas Tech’s Sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahomes is a name to remember, and the Red Raiders will rely on him heavily.
Birmingham Bowl; Birmingham, Alabama
Auburn (6-6, 7th in SEC West) vs. Memphis (9-3, 3rd in American Athletic West)
Belk Bowl: Charlotte, NC
NC State (7-5, 4th in ACC Atlantic) vs. Mississippi State (8-4, 5th in SEC West)
Dak Prescott hasn’t performed as well as many expected, but half of NC State’s wins are against non-power 5 teams.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Nashville
Texas A&M (8-4, 5th in SEC West) vs. Louisville (7-5, 3rd in ACC Atlantic)
The Aggies just lost their 2nd QB this week to transfer. They need a win to prove the program isn’t slowly unravelling.
National Funding Holiday Bowl: San Diego
USC (8-5, 1st in PAC 12 South) vs. Wisconsin (9-3, 2nd in BIG 10 West)
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Atlanta
Houston (12-1, 1st in American Athletic West) vs. Florida State (10-2, 2nd in ACC Atlantic)
Capital One Orange Bowl: Miami Gardens, Florida
#4 Oklahoma (11-1, 1st in BIG 12) vs. #1 Clemson (13-0, 1st in ACC Atlantic)
You’re watching it because it’s a playoff game. You should be watching it because Lincoln Reily is the assistant coach of the year and Brent Venables was a finalist.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Arlington, Texas
#3 Michigan State (12-1, 1st in BIG 10 East) vs. #2 Alabama (12-1, 1st in SEC West)
Outback Bowl: Tampa
Northwestern (10-2, 2nd in BIG 10 West) vs. Tennessee (8-4, 2nd in SEC East)
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: Orlando
Michigan (9-3, 3rd in BIG 10 East) vs. Florida (10-3, 1st in SEC East)
Florida is possibly the most overrated team in the country (see their terrible play in their last three games). Michigan needs to prove it’s better than that blowout loss to Ohio State.
BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl: Glendale, Arizona
Notre Dame (10-2) vs. Ohio State (11-1, 1st in BIG 10 East)
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual: Pasadena, California
Stanford (11-2, 1st in PAC 12 North) vs. Iowa (12-1, 1st in BIG 10 West)
Allstate Sugar Bowl: New Orleans
Oklahoma State (10-2, 2nd in BIG 12) vs. Ole Miss (9-3, 2nd in SEC West)
Healthy QB play for the Cowboys will be the difference maker in this one. Oklahoma State looked bad in their two losses, but Ole Miss lost to Florida (see above). Another great BIG 12 – SEC matchup in the Sugar Bowl.
TaxSlayer Bowl: Jacksonville, Florida
Penn State (7-5, 4th in BIG 10 East) vs. Georgia (9-3, 2nd in SEC East)
Penn State lost its last 3 games. Christian Hackenberg needs to prove to NFL Scouts he’s capable of the pre-season expectation.
Autozone Liberty Bowl: Memphis
Kansas State (6-6, 8th in BIG 12) vs. Arkansas (7-5, 3rd in SEC West)
Valero Alamo Bowl:
Oregon (9-3, 2nd in PAC 12 North) vs. TCU (10-2, 2nd in BIG 12)
TCU will have Trevone Boykin back and potentially Josh Docston. Oregon has been on a tear, and since Vernon Adams has been back, they’ve looked unstoppable. Star offenses matchup in this game, with a lot to prove.
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl: Phoenix
West Virginia (7-5, 5th in BIG 12) vs. Arizona State (6-6, 4th in PAC 12 South)