The time for Christmas cheer is approaching and for the college football fan, ‘the most wonderful time, of the year’ is truly embodied by the quality of games on offer. With bowl games happening most days between December 15th and January 1st. The bill is topped by the two playoff semi-finals, but there are many more exciting match-ups to explore between teams who don’t usually have a chance to face off. Below is my top 10, with the playoff semi-finals are not eligible.
Redbox Bowl – December 31st 2018 – Michigan State vs Oregon:
The Spartans and the Ducks both fall in to the category of teams who will class this season as mediocre. The Ducks have shown they have the talent to win big games, coming out on top against Washington. If quarterback Justin Herbert does not declare for the NFL draft, this will be a great stage from which to launch a strong campaign in his senior season.
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – December 29th 2018 – 10 Florida vs 7 Michigan:
Michigan and Florida opened the 2017 season with a marquee face-off. Both sides were full of hope for the future. But it’s safe to say these hopes have not played out in success for either team. This is a really important bowl game for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, a win will ease the significant pressure he is under after the loss to Ohio State last time out.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – December 15th 2018 – Middle Tennessee vs Appalachian State:
Two over-achieving programs. App State has been fantastic since their promotion to the FBS in 2014. Head Coach and App State legend Scott Satterfield is leaving to take up the position at Louisville next season. His players will want to bid the legend farewell in the best way possible. That might not be easy against a punchy Middle Tennessee team who pushed UAB all the way in their conference championship game.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl – December 22nd 2018 – Army vs Houston:
The battle of Army’s option game and Houston’s fast paced spread system will be enthralling to watch. The Black Knights are relevant again in the world of football and their arguably antiquated system is known to cause teams issues. Houston is without star player Ed Oliver who has exited the program to train for the NFL draft. It is a sad end to a great story of loyalty on Oliver’s part, but was expected after he declared before the season even begun.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – December 28th 2018 – Auburn vs Purdue:
Paul Hornung award winner and Purdue freshman Rondale Moore could be college football’s next big star. He first surfaced on my radar after an explosive performance against Ohio State in Purdue’s shock victory. Consequently he could cause this Auburn team all kinds of issues. Auburn is officially on upset alert, which gives this game a fascinating vibe. Gus Malzahn is under pressure and a loss here turn up the heat.
Dollar General Bowl – December 22nd 2018 – Buffalo vs Troy:
These two teams are very well matched in terms of ability and it should produce an interesting game. Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson is an enthralling watch given his size. Whilst Troy holds an impressive scalp of Nebraska this season. The Sun Belt team has a mean defense that will test Jackson and his supporting class.
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl – December 18th 2018 – UAB vs Northern Illinois:
The UAB Blazers may be the best story in all of college football, a bowl win would strike a significant blow to the doubters and continue the meteoric rise of the program since its return a couple of years ago. They face off against a salty North Illinois team who is much better than their record, which came against a brutal schedule. This match-up of conference champs is not to be missed.
VRBO Citrus Bowl – January 1st 2019 – 12 Penn State vs 14 Kentucky:
Kentucky was the SEC surprise team this season, led by star linebacker Josh Allen. Allen will not be playing this game and it is time for Kentucky to see what they have to build on next year. Penn State has had a relatively disappointing campaign for Trace McSorely in his final season at the school. A victory in his final appearance will be a nice send off to a player who doesn’t look the same without Saquon Barkley alongside him.
Camping World Bowl – December 28th 2018 – 20 Syracuse vs 16 West Virginia:
Syracuse has been slightly inconsistent all year, however on their day they are a force to be reckoned with. The elevation of this program could continue with a fine bowl victory over a West Virginia team who may be without NFL bound Will Grier and David Stills. The Mountaineers will be left to rue the missed chance to force their way in to the BIG12 Championship game. Although a bowl victory would go some of the way to ease the pain.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl – January 1st 2019 – 11 LSU vs 8 UCF:
The most interesting game of the year is once again set up perfectly. With UCF, unbeaten in two seasons have the chance to take a second SEC scalp in as many seasons as they come up against the impressive LSU defense. Minus star quarterback Mackenzie Milton due to injury I think this will be the end of the UCF run. LSU should be too big and too strong for the Knights. Nonetheless if the LSU offense can get moving, they will be in pole position to win this game.