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There are 39 bowl games this year; there’s a (good?) reason to watch every one of them

🕐 9 min read

We have some bad news.

It happened months ago, but there is a chance you were not paying attention when the Poinsettia Bowl passed away back in January. If you need to sit down or take a moment to let that settle in, it’s OK. Somehow, college football fans will have to make do with only 39 FBS-level bowl games — one fewer than a year ago.

The good news is that is still a lot of bowls and you should watch every one.

Why? Glad you asked.

(All times ET)

Saturday, Dec. 16

Celebration Bowl at Atlanta

North Carolina A&T vs. Grambling State, noon (ABC)

Why watch? Last year, fans who watched the Celebration Bowl between MEAC and SWAC champions discovered FCS star Tarik Cohen, who is now ripping it up with the Chicago Bears. Allow us to introduce you to Grambling quarterback Devante Kincade. Enjoy!


New Orleans Bowl

North Texas (plus 7) vs. Troy, 1 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? One of three Conference USA-Sun Belt matchups on the first day of bowl season. By the end you might have finally figured out which teams are in Conference USA and which teams are in the Sun Belt. There will be a quiz.

Pick: NORTH TEXAS 34-28.

Cure Bowl at Orlando, Florida

Georgia State (plus 6 ½) vs. Western Kentucky, 2:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

Why watch? Sun Belt-C-USA matchup No. 2 features a quarterback in WKU’s Mike White who is on the NFL’s radar.


Las Vegas Bowl

No. 25 Boise State (plus 7) vs. Oregon, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

Why watch? Get a look at the quarterback everybody will be talking about heading into next season: Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

Pick: OREGON 35-21.

New Mexico Bowl at Albuquerque

Colorado State (minus 5 ½) vs. Marshall, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? You can learn how to spell Albuquerque, the only word in the English language that repeats the letter sequence que — which is why you have such a hard time spelling Albuquerque, by the way. Herd and Rams — much easier.


Camellia Bowl at Montgomery, Alabama

Arkansas State (minus 4) vs. Middle Tennessee, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? It is this or an NFL game between the Chiefs and Chargers on Saturday night. The winner of the Camellia Bowl gets a trophy and the players will celebrate as if it is the last meaningful game they will ever play because for many it will be. The winner of Chiefs-Chargers might get to host a playoff game or something.



Tuesday, Dec. 19

Boca Raton (Florida) Bowl

Akron (plus 22 ½) vs. FAU, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Two words. Lane. Train. Lane Kiffin’s FAU team has won nine straight.

Pick: FAU 45-20.


Wednesday, Dec. 20

Frisco (Texas) Bowl

Louisiana Tech (plus 5) vs. SMU, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? New SMU coach Sonny Dykes will coach this game after a week on the job. Will he even have a card key yet?

Pick: SMU 38-31.


Thursday, Dec. 21

Gasparilla Bowl at St. Petersburg, Florida

Temple (minus 7) vs. FIU, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Official title sponsor: Gasparilla Bad Boy Mowers. Finally, lawn care gets a bowl to replace the Poulan Weed-eater Independence

Pick: TEMPLE 31-20.


Friday, Dec. 22

Bahamas Bowl at Nassau

Ohio (minus 7 ½) vs. UAB, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? One of the best stories of the season comes to a conclusion as UAB, after a two-year program hiatus, goes for the first bowl victory in school history.

Pick: UAB 28-24.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Boise, Idaho

Central Michigan (plus 1) vs. Wyoming, 4 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Draftnik? Three hours of assessing Cowboys QB Josh Allen’s draft stock — whether he plays or not — should hold you over until the Senior Bowl.

Pick: WYOMING 23-17.


Saturday, Dec. 23

Birmingham (Alabama) Bowl

No. 23 South Florida (minus 2 ½) vs. Texas Tech, noon (ESPN)

Why watch? Last college game for USF QB Quinton Flowers, who has been one of college football’s most exciting players for the last three years.

Pick: USF 35-31.

Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth, Texas

San Diego State (minus 7) vs. Army, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Army had four games in which it did not complete a pass. San Diego State has 2,000-yard rusher and All-American Rashaad Penny. After watching what figures to be a 4 ½-hour scorefest between USF and Texas Tech, this game could be done in under three hours.

Pick: SAN DIEGO STATE 24-21.

Dollar General Bowl at Mobile, Alabama

Appalachian State (plus 7 ½) vs. Toledo, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Toledo’s Jason Candle is the coach you will want your favorite Power Five school to hire next season.

Pick: TOLEDO 33-24.


Sunday, Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl at Honolulu

Fresno State (plus 2 ½) vs. Houston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? After laboring through putting together that dollhouse on Christmas Eve, you can watch offensive linemen struggling to block Houston star defensive tackle Ed Oliver and not feel so bad. At least you had instructions.

Pick: FRESNO STATE 24-21.


Tuesday, Dec. 26

Heart of Dallas Bowl

West Virginia (plus 7) vs. Utah, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch: You just went a whole day without watching a bowl game.

Pick: UTAH 28-17.

Quick Lane Bowl at Detroit

Northern Illinois (plus 5 ½) vs. Duke, 5:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? NIU took a running back, turned him into a defensive end and Sutton Smith ended up leading the nation in tackles for loss for 28.5.

Pick: DUKE 21-14.

Cactus Bowl at Phoenix

Kansas State (minus 2) vs. UCLA, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? The days of watching the Bruins underachieve are likely dwindling with Chip Kelly now at UCLA. Enjoy it while you can, Trojans fans.

Pick: KANSAS STATE 24-21.


Wednesday, Dec. 27

Independence Bowl at Shreveport, Louisiana

Southern Mississippi (plus 15 ½) vs. Florida State, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Find out how just how excited the Seminoles are to be in Shreveport.

Pick: FLORIDA STATE 38-17.

Pinstripe Bowl at New York

Boston College (plus 3) vs. Iowa, 5:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Does a collision between BC RB A.J. Dillon and Iowa LB Josey Jewell sound like an Aaron Judge home run in Yankee Stadium?


Foster Farms Bowl at Santa Clara, California

Arizona (minus 3 ½) vs. Purdue, 8:30 p.m. (FOX)

Why watch? Arizona QB Kahlil Tate and you don’t have to stay up past your bedtime or have the Pac-12 Network.

Pick: PURDUE 35-33.

Texas Bowl at Houston

Texas (plus 3) vs. Missouri, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? You miss the old Big 12.

Pick: MISSOURI 31-24.


Thursday, Dec. 28

Military Bowl at Annapolis, Maryland

Virginia (pick’em) vs. Navy, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? The NCAA only started keeping track of tackling statistics in 2000, but the FBS record for most in a game is 26. Cavaliers LB Micah Kiser against an option offense? Maybe.

Pick: VIRGINIA 27-24.

Camping World Bowl at Orlando, Florida

No. 17 Oklahoma State (minus 4 ½) vs. No. 22 Virginia Tech, 5:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? The first bowl matching Top 25 teams. It’s like breaking through the ‘wall’ while running a marathon. Except on your couch.


Alamo Bowl at San Antonio

Stanford (plus 2 ½) vs. TCU, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Bryce Love has 12 runs of at least 50 yards this season. Only one other TEAM had that many in the regular season.

Pick: TCU 28-24.

Holiday Bowl at San Diego

Washington State (minus 2) vs. Michigan State, 9 p.m. (FOX)

Why watch? You might get relationship advice from Cougars coach Mike Leach .



Friday, Dec. 29

Belk Bowl at Charlotte, North Carolina

Wake Forest (minus 3) vs. Texas A&M, 1 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Did you know Texas A&M gave Jimbo Fisher a 10-year, $75 million contract? Well, you will after this game because we’re going to hear a lot about the Aggies new coach.

Pick: WAKE FOREST 35-24.

Sun Bowl at El Paso, Texas

North Carolina State (minus 6 ½) vs. Arizona State, 3 p.m. (CBS)

Why watch? Wolfpack All-America defensive end Bradley Chubb is a destroyer of offensive game plans, stealer of quarterback towels and has been known to break dance after victories . Total package.

Pick: N.C. STATE 31-21.

Music City Bowl at Nashville, Tennessee

Kentucky (plus 7) vs. Northwestern, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Final game for Northwestern RB Justin Jackson, who at barely 200 pounds has 1,231 touches from scrimmage in his career, fourth-most in FBS history.


Arizona Bowl at Tucson, Arizona

New Mexico State (plus 4) vs. Utah State, 5:30 p.m. (CBSSN)

Why watch? It has been 57 years since New Mexico State played in a bowl. And the last time was also against Utah State.


Cotton Bowl Classic at Arlington, Texas

Southern California (plus 7 ½) vs. Ohio State, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Either of these teams would have a legitimate chance to win the playoff if they had made it. …. Oh, yes, they would.

Pick: OHIO STATE 31-27.


Saturday, Dec. 30

TaxSlayer Bowl at Jacksonville, Florida

Louisville (minus 6 ½) vs. Mississippi State, Noon (ESPN)

Why watch? We will miss Louisville’s Lamar Jackson when he is gone from college football and some bad NFL team is having him throw 3-yard outs on third-and-5.

Pick: LOUISVILLE 31-21.

Liberty Bowl at Memphis, Tennessee

Iowa State (minus 3 ½) vs. Memphis, 12:30 p.m. (ABC)

Why watch? In a few years, when Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, 38, and Memphis’ Mike Norvell, 36, are coaching against each other in a playoff game, you can say, ‘Hey, I remember watching these guys in that Liberty Bowl.”


Fiesta Bowl at Glendale, Arizona

Washington (plus 2) vs. Penn State, 4 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Two tradition-rich programs meeting for just the third time. This is what bowls used to be.

Pick: PENN STATE 28-21.

Orange Bowl at Miami Gardens, Florida

Wisconsin (minus 6 ½) vs. Miami, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Turnover chain.

Pick: WISCONSIN 24-16.


Monday, Jan. 1

Outback Bowl at Tampa, Florida

Michigan (minus 7 ½) vs. South Carolina, Noon (ESPN2)

Why watch? Michigan could beat a team with a winning record for the first time this season. Or not.

Pick: MICHIGAN 28-17.

Peach Bowl at Atlanta

UCF (plus 9 1/2) vs. Auburn, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Either the Knights pull a Boise-type upset and claim they were playoff snubbed or they flop and all the Power Five snobs can say, “We told you so.”

Pick: AUBURN 42-35.

Citrus Bowl at Orlando, Florida

Notre Dame (plus 3) vs. LSU, 1 p.m. (ABC)

Why watch? If the Fighting Irish lose, somehow coach Brian Kelly will have directed a five-win turnaround and still managed to leave Notre Dame fans disappointed.

Pick: LSU 28-20.

Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal) at Pasadena, California

Oklahoma (plus 2) vs. Georgia, 5:10 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma’s ridiculous offense vs. Roquan Smith and Georgia’s nasty defense.

Pick: GEORGIA 35-28.

Sugar Bowl (CFP Semifinal) at New Orleans

Clemson (plus 3) vs. Alabama, 8:45 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch? Did you see the last two times these teams played?

Pick: CLEMSON 21-17.


Monday, Jan. 8

College Football Playoff Championship at Atlanta

Clemson (TBD) vs Georgia, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Why watch: This is the last college football game until Labor Day weekend.

Pick: CLEMSON 23-20.

About the picks:

Record championship weekend: 9-0 straight up; 7-2 against the spread.

Record this season: 230-73 straight up; 136-151-6 against the spread.

Upset specials: 5-9 (straight up).

Best bets: 8-5 (against the spread).

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