We’ve only had to wait through 12 days of the bowl schedule to arrive at a game that features two ranked teams. That momentous occasion is slated for Thursday, when (12) Oklahoma State takes on (10) Colorado in the Alamo.
All in all, seven ranked teams will participate in the eight games that span from Thursday, Dec. 29 through Friday, Dec. 30. Though wild anticipation is rightly building towards the CFB Playoff Semifinals on New Year’s Eve, don’t make the mistake of overlooking Friday night’s Orange Bowl clash between (6) Michigan and (11) Florida State.
Despite the serious lack of leading to anything bigger, it may be one of the best games of the postseason.
Thursday, Dec. 29
USF (10-2) vs. South Carolina (6-6) – AAC vs. SEC – Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala. – 2:00PM EST – ESPN
First year: 2006
Previous names: PapaJohns.com Bowl (2006-10), BBVA Compass Bowl (2011-14)
Most appearances: Pittsburgh (3)
Last year’s result: Auburn 31 – Memphis 10
Stadium capacity: 71,594
Last year’s attendance: 59,430
USF all-time bowl record: 4-3
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Miami Beach – lost to (25) Western Kentucky 45-35
South Carolina all-time bowl record: 8-12
Last bowl appearance: 2014 Independence – beat Miami (Fla.) 24-21
All-time series record: South Carolina 1-0
Line: USF -10
The Cocks and Bulls have only met once previously, a 2004 regular season game that South Carolina won 34-3 in Columbia. USF is 1-5 all-time vs. the SEC, the only win came in 2007 when it upset (17) Auburn. South Carolina has won four straight bowl games, last losing the 2010 Chick-fil-A to (23) Florida State. The Gamecocks’ Will Muschamp is 1-1 all-time as a head coach in bowl action. The win dates back to 2014 while he was at Florida – his Gators beat East Carolina 28-20 in the Birmingham.
Arkansas (7-5) vs. (22) Virginia Tech (9-4) – SEC vs. ACC – Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC – 5:30PM EST – ESPN
First year: 2002
Previous names: Continental Tire Bowl (2002-04), Meineke Car Care Bowl (2005-10)
Most appearances: North Carolina (4)
Last year’s result: Mississippi State 51 – NC State 28
Stadium capacity: 75,412
Last year’s attendance: 46,423
Arkansas all-time bowl record: 15-23-3
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Liberty – beat Kansas State 45-23
(22) Virginia Tech all-time bowl record: 12-17
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Independence – beat Tulsa 55-52
All-time series record: 0-0
Line: Virginia Tech -7
Arkansas and (22) Virginia Tech meet on the gridiron for the first time in history in the Belk. The Razorbacks have only played the current membership of the ACC eight times total and have won only once. The victory was over Georgia Tech in the 1959-60 Gator Bowl. Arkansas is 0-1 vs. Duke, 1-1 vs. the Yellow Jackets, 0-3 vs. Miami (Fla.) and 0-2 vs. North Carolina.
The Hokies are 29-53-5 vs. the current SEC. Other than Arkansas, the only other two SEC teams Virginia Tech has never played are Mississippi State and Missouri.
(12) Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. (10) Colorado (10-3) – BIG 12 vs. PAC 12 – The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas – 9:00PM EST – ESPN
First year: 1993
Most appearances: Oklahoma State and Iowa (4 each)
Last year’s result: (11) TCU 47 – (15) Oregon 41
Stadium capacity: 65,000
Last year’s attendance: 64,569
(12) Oklahoma State all-time bowl record: 16-10
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Sugar – lost to (16) Ole Miss 48-20
(10) Colorado all-time bowl record: 12-16
Last bowl appearance: 2007 Independence – lost to Alabama 30-24
All-time series record: Colorado 26-19-1
Line: Colorado -3
The 27th bowl game of the postseason, the Alamo is the first bowl game featuring two ranked teams. (12) Oklahoma State and (10) Colorado are old friends, sharing membership in the Big Eight from 1960-95 and the Big 12 from 1996-2011. This is only the third time they’ve met outside of conference play, the other two occasions dating back to 1933 and 1920.
The Buffaloes haven’t won a bowl game since the 2004 Houston, a 33-28 win over UTEP. They haven’t beaten a ranked team in a bowl since 1999, when they knocked off (25) Boston College in the Insight.
Friday, Dec. 30
Georgia (7-5) vs. TCU (6-6) – SEC vs. BIG 12 – Liberty Bowl Stadium, Memphis, Tenn. – Noon EST – ESPN
First year: 1959
Most appearances: Arkansas (5)
Last year’s result: Arkansas 45 – Kansas State 23
Stadium capacity: 59,308
Last year’s attendance: 61,136
Georgia all-time bowl record: 29-19-3
Last bowl appearance: 2015 TaxSlayer – beat Penn State 24-17
TCU all-time bowl record: 15-5-1
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Alamo – beat (15) Oregon 47-41
All-time series record: Georgia 3-0
Line: Georgia -1
The eighth oldest bowl game in the land, the Liberty offers up the first meeting between Georgia and TCU in 28 years. It’s also a rematch of the 1941-42 Orange Bowl when the Bulldogs upended the Horned Frogs 40-26. Georgia finished that season 9-1-1, ranked No. 14 in the final AP. It was their first ever appearance in the final poll, which had been established in 1934. The Bulldogs haven’t lost a bowl game since 2013 when they fell to Nebraska in the Gator. For TCU, it was the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings, a narrow 17-16 loss to Michigan State.
Georgia is 1-2 all-time in the Liberty, the Horned Frogs are 1-0.
(18) Stanford (9-3) vs. North Carolina (8-4) – PAC 12 vs. ACC – Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas – 2:00PM EST – CBS
First year: 1935
Most appearances: Texas Tech (9)
Last year’s result: Washington State 20 – Miami (Fla.) 14
Stadium capacity: 51,500
Last year’s attendance: 41,180
(18) Stanford all-time bowl record: 13-13-1
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Rose – beat (6) Iowa 45-16
North Carolina all-time bowl record: 14-18
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Russell Athletic – lost to (18) Baylor 49-38
All-time series record: Tied at 1-1
Line: Stanford -3
(18) Stanford and North Carolina have only met twice, a home-and-home in 1997-98. The Tar Heels are 2-2 vs. ranked opponents this season and haven’t won a bowl game since beating Cincinnati in the 2013 Belk. It’s only the 11th time in history that UNC has played a current Pac-12 member, holding a 5-5 all-time record. The Cardinal haven’t lost a game since falling 10-5 to Colorado on Oct. 22.
The Sun, Orange and Sugar Bowls all date back to 1935, second only to the Rose, which kicked off in 1902. This is Stanford’s fourth Sun Bowl appearance and North Carolina’s fifth.
MUSIC CITY BOWL
Nebraska (9-3) vs. (21) Tennessee (8-4) – BIG TEN vs. SEC – Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn. – 3:30PM EST – ESPN
First year: 1998
Most appearances: Kentucky (4)
Last year’s result: Louisville 27 – Texas A&M 21
Stadium capacity: 67,700
Last year’s attendance: 50,478
Nebraska all-time bowl record: 26-26
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Foster Farms – beat UCLA 37-29
(21) Tennessee all-time bowl record: 27-24
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Outback – beat (12) Northwestern 45-6
All-time series record: Nebraska 2-0
Line: Tennessee -4
With 103 combined appearances, Nebraska and (21) Tennessee have more bowl experience than any other combo this postseason. The two have never met in the regular season, the previous meetings limited to the 2000 Fiesta and the 1998 Orange, both wins for the Cornhuskers. The Volunteers haven’t lost a bowl game since 2010, when they fell to North Carolina in double overtime in the Music City. Nebraska fell as recently as the 2014 Holiday, a 45-42 loss to (24) USC.
South Alabama (6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3) – Sun Belt vs. MWC – Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz. – 5:30PM EST – ASN/CI
First year: 2015
Last year’s result: Nevada 28 – Colorado State 23
Stadium capacity: 55,675
Last year’s attendance: 20,425
South Alabama all-time bowl record: 0-1
Last bowl appearance: 2014 Camellia – lost to Bowling Green 33-28
Air Force all-time bowl record: 11-13
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Armed Forces – lost to Cal 55-36
All-time series record: 0-0
Line: Air Force -14
This is the first-ever meeting between South Alabama and Air Force. South Alabama didn’t field a football team until 2009 and didn’t join the FBS ranks until 2012, when it signed on with the Sun Belt. This is the Jaguars’ second-ever bowl appearance; they’ve never won a postseason game. Air Force is 5-0 all-time vs. the current membership of the Sun Belt; 1-0 vs. Georgia State and 4-0 vs. Idaho.
(6) Michigan (10-2) vs. (11) Florida State (9-3) – BIG TEN vs. ACC – Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla. – 8:00PM EST – ESPN
First year: 1935
Most appearances: Oklahoma (19)
Last year’s result: (1) Clemson 37 – (4) Oklahoma 17
Stadium capacity: 65,326
Last year’s attendance: 67,615
(6) Michigan all-time bowl record: 21-23
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Citrus – beat (19) Florida 41-7
(11) Florida State all-time bowl record: 26-16-2
Last bowl appearance: 2015 Peach – lost to (14) Houston 38-24
All-time series record: Tied at 1-1
Line: Michigan -7
(6) Michigan and (11) Florida State have played twice all-time, regular season games in 1986 and 1991, both in Ann Arbor. The Seminoles haven’t won a bowl game since beating (2) Auburn in the final BCS Championship game in 2013. FSU has played three times as many ranked opponents as Michigan has this season – the Wolverines are 1-1 against the Top 25 vs. the ‘Noles 3-2 mark.
This is Michigan’s third trip to the Orange Bowl and Florida State’s tenth.