Christmas is in the books, which means there will be almost nonstop bowl action from here until 2019. To get you ready for Wednesday's slate, we’ve compiled a handy, digestible guide for those needing a primer on the First Responder, Quick Lane and Cheez-It Bowls.
Servpro First Responder Bowl: Boston College vs. Boise State
Why You Should Tune In: The Cotton Bowl isn’t played at the Cotton Bowl (instead, at AT&T Stadium), but the Servpro First Responder Bowl sure is. And this is a sneaky good matchup between an upstart Boston College program and 10-win Boise State, which hit double-digit wins for the third consecutive year. On Nov. 10, the Eagles were 7–2 with College GameDay and mighty Clemson in town. Including a 27–7 thrashing that evening, BC limped to the finish line with three losses in a row. Boise State, meanwhile, won seven straight before dropping a snowy Mountain West title game to Fresno State. Two of the nation’s better running backs––BC’s AJ Dillon and Boise State’s Alexander Mattison––will converge as both teams try to rebound.
What You May Not Know:Boise State senior Brett Rypien is the most prolific quarterback in a Bronco uniform since Kellen Moore. He needs just 141 yards in the bowl to reach 3,846 on the season, which would be more than Boise State’s career passing leader ever amassed in a single year. — Sam Brief
NFL Draft Prospect to Watch: Boston College defensive end Zach Allen is a load at 6'5", 285 pounds—he can get around offensive tackles or go through them to get to the ball. Allen had 55 quarterback pressures, 15 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks this season. When he couldn’t get into the backfield, he used his length to swat down nine passes. The NFL is no stranger to versatile BC front seven stars. — Scooby Axson
Quick Lane Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Minnesota
Why You Should Tune In: Georgia Tech might run for 500 yards. Probably not, but this is the most prolific rushing offense in the country––the Yellow Jackets’ 335 rushing yards per game are 32 more than second-place Army––against a pretty porous run defense.
Georgia Tech ran for 542 yards against Louisville. It has the most lethal triple-option attack in the country, and this is the last chance to watch the Yellow Jackets play under Paul Johnson, the legendary option disciple who’s retiring after the season. Minnesota will be asking a lot of talented linebackers Blake Cashman and Carter Coughlin. The Gophers are exciting to watch because you never know what you’ll get. Will it be the team that beat Fresno State and crushed Purdue and Wisconsin? Or will it be the team that got blown out by Maryland and Illinois?
What You May Not Know:Minnesota’s offense has put up some strong performances in the second half, despite relying on a ridiculous number of freshmen. The Gophers opened the year with true freshman Zack Annexstad starting at QB, then when he got injured, turned to a redshirt freshman who has been much better. Redshirt freshman RB Mohamed Ibrahim has been outstanding. His backup is true freshman Bryce Williams. The Gophers’ No. 2 and No. 3 receivers are freshmen, as are two starters on the offensive line. That includes true freshman Daniel Faalele, the biggest player in college football at 6'9" and 400 pounds. — Will Ragatz
NFL Draft Prospect to Watch: Minnesota quarterbacks completed 183 passes this season; 74 of them went to junior receiver Tyler Johnson. He tied the school record with six games of at least 100 yards receiving this year, and his tools will draw plenty of attention if he chooses to leave early. — Scooby Axson
Cheez-It Bowl: Cal vs. TCU
Why You Should Tune In: Ranked No. 16 in the preseason AP poll, TCU was one of 2018’s most frustrating units, even losing to lowly Kansas. The Horned Frogs won three of their last four games, and they’ve done it behind a stout defense spearheaded by terrific edge rusher Ben Banogu, who has 17 tackles for loss on the season. Cal’s season highlight was an ugly 12–10 win over Washington, and the Bears also edged USC, 15–14. If you want to see a defensive slugfest, this might be the game for you.
What You May Not Know:This is the first-ever meeting between Cal and TCU, and the two sides better get familiar. Back in 2014, the programs scheduled a home-and-home series for 2020 and 2021. Look at these three upcoming games as a best-of-three series. — Sam Brief
NFL Draft Prospect to Watch: Though he played primarily as an edge rusher the majority of his career, TCU’s Ben Banogu probably fits best in the NFL as a stand-up linebacker in a 3–4 scheme with the ability to put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer on certain downs. Banogu was extremely productive in his three college seasons at Louisiana-Monroe and TCU, racking up 44 tackles for loss and 19 sacks. — Scooby Axson