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Tyler’s Bowl Bonanza: ranking all 41 bowl games from worst to first

Bowl season is the best, read up on the ones you can avoid and the ones that are appointment television.

NCAA Football: Advocare Classic-Auburn vs Oregon Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I love bowl season. Personally, I’d like 10-15 more. Play as much football as you can. If you advocate for fewer bowls, you hate fun. Simple as that.

That said, some games are better than others. Some pit powerhouse against powerhouse and some leave you scratching your head and wanting more. It’s still all football, and it’s your last chance to take in all the madness the college football season brings. To make it easy on you, I've ranked all 41 of them to help you decide which ones you can miss, and which ones you must be around a television for.

41. Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl

Alcorn State vs. North Carolina A&T Saturday, Dec. 21, 12:00 p.m.

Two teams you’ve payed zero attention to, but hey, it’s football. All I got for you.

40. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Ohio vs. Nevada Friday, Jan. 3, 3:30 PM

Nevada football has been a disaster this season and doesn’t really do anything good on either side of the football. Ohio usually packs a punch during bowl season, but after a down season it’s best described as meh.

39. Camellia Bowl

FIU vs. Arkansas State Saturday, Dec. 21, 5:30 p.m.

FIU brings a little more to the table after their upset win over Miami a few weeks back. Arkansas State expected a lot more from their season in 2019 but I have to imagine they’ll show up for this game. Could be a shootout, could be a dud.

38. SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan Monday, Dec. 30, 12:30 p.m.

Western Michigan expected a MAC division title coming into the season and never lived up to the hype. Western Kentucky quietly had a great 8-4 season led by C-USA Coach of the Year Tyson Helton. Still though, 12:30 p.m. on a Monday? Not great if you’re working the 9-5.

37. Cure Bowl

Georgia Southern vs. Liberty Saturday, Dec. 21, 2:30 p.m.

Georgia Southern pulled off a big upset against App State earlier in the season and runs the ball pretty well in their spread option look. Liberty and Hugh Freeze can get wacky, but other than that I don’t expect to be super tuned into this game.

36. Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl

Utah State vs. Kent State Friday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.

2018 was great to Utah State and unkind to Kent State. 2019 was a reversal of fortunes for both teams. Utah State losing every player but Jordan Love took its toll. Sean Lewis has Kent State headed in the right direct. I like the matchup, but not as much as some others.

35. NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Georgia State vs. Wyoming Tuesday, Dec 31, 4:30 p.m.

Georgia State pulled off a big upset against a now decent Tennessee team in week one. They’re starting to build a program that is winning after being one of the newer FBS schools to level up. Wyoming lost quarterback Sean Chambers for the season which took some luster out of the Pokes. Both teams run the ball well, so I’d figure low scoring. Still, it’s football on a Tuesday. Can’t beat it.

NCAA Football: Ohio at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

34. Quick Lane Bowl

Pitt vs. Eastern Michigan Thursday, Dec. 26, 8:00 p.m.

How do I define this game... I think grit is the right word? On paper it looks appealing but I don’t think EMU can hang around in this game. Pitt is No. 2 in the nation in sacks, and I don’t think EMU will have an answer for it despite having as close to a home game as you can have in Ford Field.

33. Mobile Alabama Bowl

Louisiana vs. Miami (OH) Monday, Jan. 6, 7:30 p.m.

MAC champs against the Sun Belt runner up. If you pay attention to G5 football this is an intriguing match up. However, similar to number 34, I don’t know if the MAC team can hang with the more talented team. If they can, it should be a fun one. Louisiana running back Elijah Mitchell is worth your time especially since there will be no more Monday Night Football on at this time.

32. Walk On’s Independence Bowl

Miami(FL) vs. Louisiana Tech Thursday, Dec. 26, 4:00 p.m.

LA Tech finished the season at 9-3 so this should be appealing, but they benefited from one of the easiest schedules in the FBS. Miami Football is a disaster currently, but if they avoid self inflicted mistakes they should handle their business in this game. The program is in disarray, but the Canes have athletes and need a bowl win after their blowout loss to the Badgers in the Pinstripe Bowl last year.

31. Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl

UCF vs. Marshall Monday, Dec. 23, 2:30 p.m.

Name alone should get you to tune into this game as it’s one of the best of them all. However the football game is pretty good too. Marshall moves slow, UCF moves fast. The tortoise vs. hare match up should be interesting to watch.

NCAA Football: Sun Belt Conference Championship-UL Lafayette at Appalachian State Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

30. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Appalachian State vs. UAB Saturday, Dec. 21, 9:00 p.m.

UAB has been an awesome story since the return of the football program. Everyone loves an underdog and the Blazers have been able to bounce back with Bill Clark transitioning them through the dark times. Still though, they’re running into a buzzsaw App State team. Eli Drinkwitz left them for Mizzou, but Zac Thomas still has firepower under the helm.

29. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Tulane vs. Southern Miss Saturday, Jan. 4, 11:30 p.m.

Tulane has a dominating run offense that will go up against a strong Southern Miss defensive line littered with SEC transfers. That battle should be one that is fun to watch, and the fact that these two are not far from one another, yet rarely play, makes me like it more. I think this is one of the better G5 vs. G5 games.

28. Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl

Buffalo vs. Charlotte Friday, Dec. 20, 2:00 p.m.

This game kicks off the real bowl season and is always a wild one down in the Bahamas. Some bowl games just get funky, and this one is exactly that. Charlotte doesn’t move the needle for me, but Lance Leipold and Buffalo brings some intrigue. This game is living off its history of being wild, but that’s ok. Let’s hope it continues and gets us rolling in bowl season.

27. New Mexico Bowl

San Diego State vs. Central Michigan Saturday, Dec. 21, 2:20 p.m.

SDSU plays incredible defense and you know Head Coach Rocky Long is going to keep the ball on the ground. Jim Mcelwain is familiar with Long from his Head coaching day’s at Colorado State, which should make this a bit of a cat and mouse game. Mcelwain is linked to a lot of opening gig rumors, so let’s hope CMU is focused and able to hang around in this after a tough MAC Title game loss.

26. AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Navy vs. Kansas State Tuesday, Dec. 31, 3:45 p.m.

Two ground heavy attacks with meh defense’s could make this game a track meet back and forth which can make for a lot of fun in bowl games. However, Kansas State gets an extra few days to practice for Navy while the Midshipmen still are preparing for their game with Army. That turnaround is hard on them, but I still expect this to be a fun game.

NCAA Football: Tulane at Southern Methodist Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

25. Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl

SMU vs. FAU Saturday, Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m.

Points, points, points! The Lane train departing from the station in Boca may take out some luster, but I still expect this one to be a shootout back and forth. Shane Buchele and his receivers like James Proche we’re a lot of fun to watch early in the season, and are probably hoping to go out on a high note so I would tune in if you like a lot of scoring.

24. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Mississippi State vs. Louisville Monday, Dec. 30, 4:00 p.m.

The only reason this game is up here is because I think Louisville is back in the direction it wants to be going under Scott Satterfield. The Bulldogs have been a joke of a football team this year, but an SEC/ACC battle still looks good on paper. Not sure if it will live up to it, but has a chance.

23. Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Florida State vs. Arizona State Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2:00 p.m.

Two good P5 programs but I am not sure where this Florida State football team is right now. It was another disastrous season for the Seminoles, but they’ll want to play well and try to impress new Head Coach Mike Norvell. Plus, you’ve got Herm Edwards trying to devise a game plan to slow down Alex Hornibrook’s swan song. MUST SEE.

22. Birmingham Bowl

Boston College vs. Cincinnati Thursday, Jan. 2, 3:00 p.m.

Seeing AJ Dillon go up against a stout Bearcat run defense had this game pegged higher, but Dillon sounds like he will be sitting out in pursuit of the NFL draft. Oh what could have been. Still, Cincy Head Coach Luke Fickell is linked to the BC opening, which makes this a little more intriguing.

21. Cheez-It Bowl

Air Force vs. Washington State Friday, Dec. 27, 10:15 p.m.

You saw how weird the Cheez-it Bowl got last year, and anything with Mike Leach is prone to getting a little off the rails. Air Force has been a solid defense, but they’ve faced a lot of run heavy attacks. Leach and Co throw more than anyone, so it will be interesting to see how they Falcons handle an air attack.... get it?

NCAA Football: North Carolina at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

20. Military Bowl

North Carolina vs. Temple Friday, Dec. 27, 12:00 p.m.

Temple’s defensive front seven will be a good test for Mack Brown and quarterback Sam Howell. If they can move the football consistently, this game should be close down to the wire as many UNC and Temple games have been already this season. Plus the uniform match up appeals in this one.

19. SoFi Hawaii Bowl

Hawaii vs. BYU Tuesday, Dec. 24, 8:00 p.m.

This might be a little high but I have a soft spot for the Hawaii Bowl. Firstly, it’s the only thing on when I get home from Christmas Eve festivities. I just love stuffing my gullet with food and booze and fading in and out to the Hawaiian music before and after commercials. Plus, this is an old rivalry game from the MW days. Sign me uppppp.

18. New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Wake Forest vs. Michigan State Friday, Dec. 27, 3:20 p.m.

The Wake Forest offense was firing on all cylinders early in the season but faltered down the stretch. Michigan State has been the definition of falter on offense all season long. Still, the look of the Pinstripe Bowl is always a plus for me as the Spartans look to keep this in the Big Ten and earn a Famous Pinstripe Bowl stocking cap.

17. Redbox Bowl

Illinois vs. California Monday, Dec. 30, 4:00 p.m.

Justin Wilcox vs. Lovie Smith is just plain cool to see in my opinion. Plus, the uniform combo is another good one here. Each program is eager to be in a bowl, and I have to expect Illinois is going to be hungry to win this game. This one should be good from start to finish.

16. Camping World Bowl

Notre Dame vs. Iowa State Saturday, Dec. 28, 12:00 p.m.

Seeing the ever powerful Notre Dame get beat by little ole’ Iowa State would be nirvana for me. I don’t think ND has any interest in this game, but I think Brock Purdy vs. Ian Book is a pretty good match up at QB. Plenty of appeal for me.

NCAA Football: Washington at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

15. Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl

Washington vs. Boise State Saturday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m.

Chris Petersen is one of the best coaches in college football but will be stepping away after this game. I can’t think of a cooler way to go out than by facing off against your former team that you led to one of the most notable upsets in college football history in the Fiesta Bowl. If Petersen doesn’t call a statue of liberty play we RIOT.

14. TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

Tennessee vs. Indiana Thursday, Jan. 2, 7:00 p.m.

These two teams are pretty close regionally, but have only played one other time in their history. Indiana vs. Kentucky would probably be more appealing, and VA Tech vs. Tennessee would probably be too, but too late to flip flop these games now. Neither team has been bowling since 2016, so this should be fun. Plus it’s a B1G vs. SEC game. Love it.

13. Belk Bowl

Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech Tuesday Dec. 31, 12:00 p.m.

Like I said above, this game would probably be better flip flopped but certain conference ties have to go certain places unfortunately. What Kentucky has done this season is pretty remarkable considering they have a wideout playing QB and run it on nearly every down. VA Tech missed out on an ACC title but bounced back in 2019 so I think this game has a lot of potential.

12. Academy Sports & Outdoors Texas Bowl

Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M Friday, Dec. 27, 6:45 p.m.

When A&M bailed for the SEC the Big 12 lost a lot of great rivalries including this one. Getting these going again in bowl games is always cool, although they could have printed money if they tweaked this and put the Longhorns in instead of the Pokes. Maybe I should be the bowl committee? Still ill take it.

11. SDCCU Holiday Bowl

USC vs. Iowa Friday Dec. 27, 8:00 p.m.

Two solid programs facing off in a solid bowl. Sometimes it’s as easy as that. I enjoyed the Holiday Bowl when Wisconsin took down USC, and I hope the Hawkeyes do as well. One final hoorah for Nate Stanley against a quality opponent. Enough for me.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Conference Championship-Oregon vs Utah Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

10. Valero Alamo Bowl

Utah vs. Texas Tuesday, Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m.

Coming into the season you’d probably think this game was a New Year’s Six Bowl, but the Longhorns are once again not back. Utah fell on their face chasing a playoff spot, and now head to the Alamo in a virtual road game against a 7-5 Texas team. Ouch. Still the Alamo is always one of my favorites, and I am fully into this game being a back and forth shootout if Texas can find a way to move the ball against a great Utah defense.

9. Capital One Orange Bowl

Florida vs. Virginia Monday, Dec. 30, 8:00 p.m.

I hope Virginia and Bryce Perkins can make this a game because if not this game is way way way too high. Still, it’s a NY6 game, and Florida’s defense against Perkins should be fun to watch. The Orange Bowl has had a lot of clunkers on paper that has turned to be upsets so lets hope this is the case again. I would say this one is the biggest Wild Card of bowl season.

8. Goodyear Cotton Bowl

Penn State vs. Memphis Saturday, Dec. 28, 12:00 p.m.

Lions and Tigers.... oh my. At 12-1 Memphis has put together the best season in school history. They’ve been exciting to watch on offense, and the Tiger defense has been pretty stout as well. Unfortunately though, Mike Norvell and a host of assistants have left for Florida State, but I still expect the Tigers to try and represent the AAC well with a victory over a Big Ten school. Penn State probably feels snubbed from a Rose Bowl (HA) so they should be plenty motivated to make this a great game.

7. Outback Bowl

Auburn vs. Minnesota Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1:00 p.m.

Bloomin’ Onions and fighting Flecks, what more can you ask for? Minnesota lost two of their three most important games but they should still be eager to play in this one. The Gophers aren’t used to January 1st bowl games, so I have to imagine the fanbase is excited to take on a powerhouse like Auburn. If Minnesota pulls off the upset, it would be huge for the Big Ten/SEC power struggle, but I am not sure the Gophers can handle that nasty defensive line in this game.

6. Allstate Sugar Bowl

Georgia vs. Baylor Wednesday, January 1, 8:45 p.m.

Last year Georgia missed out on the playoff, appeared in the Sugar Bowl, and got walloped by the Texas Longhorns. It appeared UGA was completely uninteresting in playing this game, so we might get the same thing this year. Baylor is focused on finishing off a very important season for them getting back on track as a quality program. A New Year Six Bowl victory would be huge after going 1-11 just two seasons ago. Matt Rhule has done a remarkable job and now takes on an SEC giant to try and cap it. Yes please.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

5. VRBO Citrus Bowl

Alabama vs. Michigan Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1:00 p.m.

Two national brands, two historic programs, two huge personalities at Head Coach. This game has everything you could ever want. However, it feels a lot like last year where Michigan took on Florida and the Gators had again no interest in playing. I don’t expect that from Bama who will be looking to finish the season with a quality win, something they haven’t had all season. No Tua hurts, but I think this game will live up to the hype you get with the two schools.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Ohio State vs Washington Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

4. Rose Bowl

Oregon vs. Wisconsin Wednesday, Jan. 1, 5:00 p.m.

The best spectacle in the sport and it’s featuring our beloved Badgers in a rematch from the 2012 Rose Bowl. In addition, it’s likely the final game for superstar Jonathan Taylor. On the other side Oregon comes in off a PAC 12 Title eager to get a chance to take down one of the nation’s best Bowl teams. I’ll be in attendance and I couldn’t be more excited to see the Grand Daddy of them all unfold before my very eyes.

NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Virginia vs Clemson Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

3. Playstation Fiesta Bowl

Ohio State vs. Clemson Saturday, Dec. 28, 8:00 p.m.

Two undefeated heavyweights come in ready for battle, but I am not sure if this game will be everything it should be. In 2017 we ripped Clemson’s schedule and they came out and blanked Ohio State 31-0. This OSU team is much improved from that one, but Clemson still feels like it’s ready to assert its force on whoever steps in their way. I hope this game is close and as entertaining as it looks to be with the name, but I just get this feeling that OSU is stepping in front of a buzzsaw.

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Louisiana State Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

2. Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

LSU vs. Oklahoma Saturday, Dec. 28, 4:00 p.m.

I think this semifinal could be a lot of fun with points galore. I don’t care that Oklahoma sort of got in by default. They’ve got Lincoln Reilly and he’s got time to scheme for an LSU defense that has been suspect this season at times. Along with that, you’ve got a Heisman nominee and the likely winner going head to head in Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow. If Oklahoma can move the ball, this one should be a lot of fun.

NCAA Football: Advocare Classic-Auburn vs Oregon Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
  1. College Football Playoff Championship

Monday, Jan. 13, 8:00 p.m.

Our sport’s crown jewel. The reason we watch every single Saturday. This time around we’re guaranteed at least one new team in the final, and OSU is looking to make sure both sides are new squads in the Title game to give it a breath of fresh air. I expect LSU/Clemson, but really you can’t knock any possible outcome just given Oklahoma’s pedigree. The playoff finally gets three quality match ups no matter what, which is exactly what they set out to do when it was first implemented.