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 I know. Some people think there are too many bowls. As a cereal eater, that doesn’t bother me at all. What would be so terrible if we added three more bowls and then everybody could go?

Kids want to play. Parents and boosters want to watch. What’s the big deal? There are already far too many bowls that only a mother could love.

Nobody’s forcing anyone to watch. But face it. A lot of us like to watch. . . football. And honestly, a vast number of NFL games are awfully vanilla. With college football, at least, there’s a reasonable chance that something really interesting/unusual/crazy will happen.

And when kids celebrate in college, it’s generally not a routine they rehearsed.

The key to bowl watching, of course, is to have an expert helping you choose your games. Since I couldn’t find one, let’s pretend.

Oh, and by the way, this bowl guide is deeply rooted in Big Ten Flyover Country. I am who I am.

All times are Eastern Standard



Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois (Saturday, Dec. 23, Noon, ESPN)

Attention, Huskie fans! The Camellia Bowl is played in Montgomery, Alabama.

Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force vs. James Madison (Saturday, Dec. 23, 3:30 p.m., ABC)

Two teams that were in the hunt for Group of 5 glory—until they weren’t. Air Force started 8-0 but lost its last four. FBS newbie James Madison, which abandoned its lawsuit threat but got into a bowl anyway, should be fun to watch.

Holiday Bowl: Louisville vs. Southern Cal (Wednesday, Dec. 27, 8 p.m. ET, Fox)

Defensively-challenged USC plays its final game before joining the Big Ten against potent Louisville (10-3)

Texas Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M (Wednesday, Dec. 27, 9 p.m., ESPN)

The Aggies are such a train wreck. And the Cowboys like to ride roller coasters. This is the Bizzaro World version of Texas-Oklahoma. Instead of the Red River Rivalry in Dallas' Cotton Bowl, this Bayou Showdown will be played in Houston's NRG dome.



Gator Bowl: Clemson vs. Kentucky (Noon, ESPN)

Clemson was so maddeningly good for so long. Let’s see what the Tigers have got against the buttoned-down Wildcats.

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Oregon State (2 p.m., CBS)

Notre Dame won’t have its quarterback. Oregon State has lost its coach. Two otherwise pretty good teams. Could be fun. Or not.

Liberty Bowl: Memphis vs. Iowa State: (3:30 p.m., ESPN)

Memphis likes to put up some points. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell probably should have left Ames. But he still lines up a solid team. I know my Cyclone-driven friend, Thor, will be tuning in. Clones have played some interesting football this fall.

Cotton Bowl: Ohio State vs. Missouri (8 p.m., ESPN)

Ryan Day, who couldn’t beat Michigan with Kyle McCord, now tries to beat Missouri without him—and a bunch of other departing Buckeyes.



Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Georgia (4 p.m., ESPN)

Florida State, an undefeated Power 5 champions, has a right to feel outraged at playing second fiddle to Alabama and Texas. And it has a great opponent to take out its frustrations on. Meanwhile, Georgia went from three-peat candidate to foil for FSU in one Alabama stumble. Could be a good game, but it’s all about Injuries and The Portal.


Las Vegas Bowl: Northwestern vs. Utah (Saturday, Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m., ABC)

Can the Wildcats keep it going against the Utes, a potentially good team that played its whole season without its quarterback?

Quick Lane Bowl: Bowling Green vs. Minnesota (Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2 p.m., ESPN)

It’s in Detroit. And the Gophers (5-7) will finish below .500, win or lose. Nuff said.

Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers vs. Miami (Fla.) (Thursday, Dec. 28, 2:15 p.m., ESPN)

Yankee Stadium! Rutgers in a bowl! Miami still wondering what might have been!

Cotton Bowl: Ohio State vs. Missouri (Friday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m., ESPN)

Will the Buckeyes, the most disappointed 11-1 team in the nation, show up?

Peach Bowl: Penn State vs. Ole Miss (Saturday, Dec. 30, Noon, ESPN)

This could be a fun game if Penn State takes it seriously. Which it should. There will be plenty of time this offseason to try and solve the Riddles of Ohio State and Michigan.

Music City Bowl: Auburn vs. Maryland (Saturday, Dec. 30, 2 p.m., ABC)

Auburn is a weird team in transition. Then again, so is Maryland, which lost five of its last seven after a 5-0 start.

Citrus Bowl: Iowa vs. Tennessee (Monday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ABC)

There’s no defense for Iowa’s offense. In the last game of the Brian Ferentz Era, a tough matchup for the Hawkeyes.

ReliaQuest Bowl: LSU vs. Wisconsin (Noon, ESPN2)

Something tells me this is a really bad matchup for the Badgers. That means it’s an opportunity for Luke Fickell to end a disappointing debut on a positive note. If not, he won’t have to deal with inflated expectations for his second season.


Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs. Liberty (January 1, 1 p.m., ESPN)

Honestly, I don’t know much about Liberty, except it earned the coveted Group of 5 anti-trust-driven New Year’s Six bowl slot. And I have no idea what Phil Knight’s Nike crew will have the Ducks wearing. But I’ll try to tune in and find out.


The great thing about this year’s playoff is the uncertainty. Any one of these four teams could win the College Football Playoff championship without pulling off a shocking surprise.

That said, sure would be nice if somebody outside of SEC Country won.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl: Michigan vs. Alabama (5 p.m., ESPN)

Everyone wrote off the Crimson Tide after that early loss to Texas. Which is ancient history. Everyone has been counting on Michigan since it started crushing opponents like bugs on Day One. Despite being suspended for six games, or perhaps because of it, Jim Harbaugh has restored the glory and the arrogance. Meanwhile, Nick Saban has quietly reaffirmed his credentials as college football’s all-time greatest coach. Should be fun.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Sugar Bowl: Washington vs. Texas (8:45 p.m., ESPN)

This game is more of a mystery. Will Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. keep the Huskies’ airborne attack rolling? Is Texas, which survived the crushing loss to Oklahoma and found ways to get better and better, finally ready to take the Longhorns where they’ve been obsessing to go since the Mack Brown Heyday? Intriguing matchup.