Jeffrey Tomik (c) 2013, The Washington Post. College football’s bowl season kicks off this weekend. Here’s our guide to all 35 bowls, ranking them from the rather-be-doing-laundry Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl to the cancel-all-plans, must-see BCS national championship.
Rankings are from lowest interest to highest:
35. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl (Dec. 23, 2 p.m., ESPN)
East Carolina vs. Ohio
Bowl season just wouldn’t be the same without a 4-4 Mid-American Conference team.
34. New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 21, 8 p.m., ESPN)
Tulane vs. LA-Lafayette
At least this is an in-state rivalry game being played close to both schools.
33. Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1, noon, ESPNU)
UNLV vs. North Texas
The Rebels against the Mean Green. That sounds pretty cool. It’s not.
32. Godaddy Bowl (Jan. 5, 9 p.m., ESPN)
Arkansas State vs. Ball State
Could you imagine a better game to watch as an appetizer for the BCS national championship game? We can.
31. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 21, 5:30 p.m., ESPN)
Buffalo vs. San Diego State
Ohio State opened the season against these two juggernauts. And people were complaining about the Buckeyes’ weak schedule? Buffalo lost 40-20, while San Diego fell 42-7.
30. Little Caesars Bowl (Dec. 26, 6 p.m., ESPN)
Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green
Pizza for $5? You can’t beat that. But this bowl? There are 29 better options.
29. Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 30, 10:45 a.m., ESPN)
Middle Tennessee vs. Navy
Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds had a seven-touchdown game in a triple overtime win over San Jose State. Middle Tennessee has won five straight.
28. BBVA Compass Bowl (Jan. 4, 1 p.m., ESPN)
Vanderbilt vs. Houston
Commodores senior receiver Jordan Matthews led the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in catches (107).
27. Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31, 4 p.m., ESPN)
Rice vs. Mississippi
The Owls lost their season opener to Texas A&M 52-31, but they get a second shot at an SEC squad.
26. New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 21, 2 p.m., ESPN)
Washington State vs. Colorado State
The Cougars love throwing it around. Problem is, Connor Halliday, the nation’s leader with 21 interceptions, doesn’t always hit his teammates.
25. Military Bowl (Dec. 27, 2:30 p.m., ESPN)
Maryland vs. Marshall
It’s a short drive for Terps fans to Navy Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Marshall’s lone game of the season against an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) team was a triple-overtime loss to Virginia Tech.
24. Texas Bowl (Dec. 27, 6 p.m., ESPN)
Syracuse vs. Minnesota
The Orange already have a victory over the Gophers this year, but it was in basketball. Minnesota should fare much better on the gridiron.
23. Belk Bowl (Dec. 28, 3:20 p.m., ESPN)
Cincinnati vs. North Carolina
The Tar Heels, who put up 80 points against Old Dominion last month, won’t have to travel too far for this one in Charlotte.
22. Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 24, 8 p.m., ESPN)
Boise State vs. Oregon State
If you’re a fan of offense – and, really, who isn’t? – then you’ll like this one.
21. Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m., ABC)
No. 20 Fresno State vs. No. 25 USC
There’s a quarterback to watch in this one, and he doesn’t play for the Trojans. Fresno State’s Derek Carr has thrown 48 touchdown passes, 10 more than anyone else in the FBS.
20. Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 28, noon, ESPN)
Rutgers vs. Notre Dame
The most prestigious college football program is playing at Yankee Stadium. Oh, the history. Too bad the Irish are facing Rutgers, of the brand new American Athletic Conference.
19. Fight Hunger Bowl (Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m., ESPN)
BYU vs. Washington
This game features three 1,000-yard rushers: Brigham Young quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams, and Washington running back Bishop Sankey.
18. Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 26, 9:30 p.m., ESPN)
Utah State vs. No. 23 Northern Illinois
If you haven’t seen Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch play, make sure to tune in. The Heisman finalist is the fifth quarterback in FBS history with 20 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns.
17. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m., ESPN)
Michigan vs. Kansas State
The Wolverines are 7-5, but four of their losses were by four points or less.
16. Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ESPN)
Iowa vs. No. 16 LSU
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger will be out for the Tigers, making this matchup a little less intriguing. But both teams’ defenses are pretty talented.
15. Music City Bowl (Dec. 30, 3:15 p.m., ESPN)
Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets run a lot and have plenty of options in the backfield. They had 12 different players with at least 100 yards rushing this season.
14. Gator Bowl (Jan. 1, noon, ESPN2)
Nebraska vs. No. 22 Georgia
The Bulldogs will be without quarterback Aaron Murray, but Georgia was able to overcome injury woes to defeat rival Georgia Tech.
13. Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m., ESPN)
No. 14 Arizona State vs. Texas Tech
The Sun Devils (10-3) would have just one loss this season if they avoided playing Stanford. The Red Raiders (7-5) would be undefeated if they didn’t play their past five games.
12. AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m., ESPN)
Arizona vs. Boston College
This is worth watching just for Heisman finalist Andre Williams, who led the nation with 2,102 yards rushing. He had 897 yards in a three-game span.
11. Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m., ESPN)
No. 10 Oregon vs. Texas
The Ducks stumbled down the stretch, but their fast-paced offense should give Texas’ shaky defense problems.
10. Russell Athletic Bowl (Dec. 28, 6:45 p.m., ESPN)
Miami vs. No. 18 Louisville
Both these teams had BCS aspirations. Miami was ranked as high as No. 7, and Louisville got up to No. 8 at one point. Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater could be this year’s No. 1 pick.
9. Sun Bowl (Dec. 31, 2 p.m., CBS)
Virginia Tech vs. No. 17 UCLA
The Hokies’ defense, which has allowed 17.4 points a game, faces UCLA sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley, whom NFL scouts love.
8. Chick-fil-A Bowl (Dec. 31, 8 p.m., ESPN)
No. 24 Duke vs. No. 21 Texas A&M
Can the Blue Devils stop Johnny Manziel? Fellow Heisman winner Jameis Winston had four total touchdowns in a 45-7 victory over Duke in the ACC title game.
7. Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ABC)
No. 19 Wisconsin vs. No. 9 South Carolina
Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney entered the season with a lot of hype, but he had just three sacks all year. Will he make a statement before entering the draft?
6. Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)
No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 11 Oklahoma
Crimson Tide senior quarterback AJ McCarron has a 36-3 record as a starter and would like to end his career on a high note against the Sooners.
5. Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)
No. 15 Central Florida vs. No. 6 Baylor
How good are the Knights? Quarterback Bryce Petty and Baylor’s high-powered offense, which averaged an NCAA-high 53.3 points per game, will be ready to test the American Athletic champs.
4. Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m., Fox)
No. 13 Oklahoma State vs. No. 8 Missouri
Which team will bounce back from a BCS-busting, season-ending loss? These teams were a combined 12-12 in the regular season in 2012 and are a combined 21-4 this year.
3. Orange Bowl (Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)
No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 7 Ohio State
This should be one of the better QB matchups with Clemson’s Tajh Boyd going up against Ohio State’s Braxton Miller. The two passed for a combined 51 touchdowns to only 14 interceptions.
2. Rose Bowl (Jan. 1, 5 p.m., ESPN)
No. 5 Stanford vs. No. 4 Michigan State
The Cardinal and the Spartans have two of the best defenses in the country. The question is: How much will the coaches ask their quarterbacks to do?
1. BCS national championship (Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m., ESPN)
No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 1 Florida State
Florida State has beaten every opponent by at least 14 points, so can the Tigers at least keep it close? The way Auburn’s season has gone, anything less than a miraculous ending would be a disappointment.
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Tomik is sports editor for Express, The Washington Post’s weekday tabloid.
Note: Rankings are according to BCS standings.