The third stanza of the 2020 college football bowl schedule features four games spread between Tuesday early evening and Wednesday night. Not only does the set include the first participation by a Power 5 member, all four of the contests are Power vs. Power matchups and two feature a ranked team taking on a ranked opponent.
All in all, it’s a quality offering that – despite its placement in the middle of the week – should not be missed. And, as a bonus, it’s all exclusively on ESPN, meaning you’ll never have to change the channel.
Things get rolling on Tuesday evening with the first of the two ranked vs. ranked matchups in the Cheez-it Bowl – (21) Oklahoma State (a mere 2.5-point favorite) vs. (18) Miami Fla. – it airs at 5:30pm EST. Directly after that – at 9pm EST – it’s old Big 12 foes (20) Texas and Colorado reuniting in the Alamo Bowl.
Wednesday kicks off with the Duke’s Mayo Bowl – featuring the first-ever football meeting between Wake Forest and Wisconsin – at Noon EST. Primetime is home to what might be the game of the week – (6) Oklahoma vs. (7) Florida in the Cotton Bowl – it’s set to start promptly at 8pm EST.
Tuesday, Dec. 29
(21) OKLAHOMA STATE (7-3) vs. (18) MIAMI FLA. (8-2) – Big 12 vs. ACC – Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla. – 5:30pm EST – ESPN
First year: 1990
Previous names: Blockbuster (1990-93), Carquest (1994-97), MicronPC (1998-2000), Tangerine (2001-03), Champs Sports (2004-11), Russell Athletic (2012-16), Camping World (2017-19)
Most appearances: NC State (3-2), Miami Fla. (3-2), West Virginia (0-5)
Last year: (14) Notre Dame 33 – Iowa State 9
Oklahoma State is 19-11 in bowl play. It fell 24-21 to Texas A&M in last season’s Texas Bowl. Its most recent win came in the 2018 Liberty Bowl when it edged then (24) Missouri 38-33.
Miami Fla. is 19-22 in bowl action. It got shutout 14-0 by Louisiana Tech in last year’s Independence Bowl, also its third-consecutive bowl loss. It last scored a win in the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl, a 31-14 victory over then (14) West Virginia.
The only other football meeting between these two came during the 1991 regular season, a 40-3 win for the Hurricanes in Miami.
Line: Oklahoma State -2.5
The potential (though not extreme) mismatch in this one is Oklahoma State’s rushing attack (No. 36 in the FBS/No. 2 in the Big 12) taking on a Miami D that finished the season ranked No. 83 nationally vs. the run. What muddies the waters is twofold. First, the Cowboys will be playing without their top rusher – junior RB Chuba Hubbard – who has declared for the NFL draft and opted out of the end of his collegiate career. Who – if anyone – will step up in his absence? Next up, the Hurricanes D allowed, on average, 139 rushing yards per game in its first nine games in 2020 only to cough up a jaw-dropping 554 rushing yards and six scores in its finale – a 62-26 loss vs. (14) North Carolina. Sure, the Tar Heels are ranked No. 9 in the FBS in rushing offense, but the ‘Canes gave up 305 yards more than UNC’s season average of 249. Will the real Miami D please stand up?
Miami will be without its star pair of defensive ends – junior Jaelan Phillips (No. 4 in the FBS in tackles for a loss and tied at No. 10 in sacks) and senior Quincy Roche (tied for No. 6 in the FBS in tackles for a loss). Both have declared for the NFL draft and are opting out of the bowl game.
Players to Watch
Oklahoma State: junior RB Dezmon Jackson (#27) (rushed for 235 yards and three scores in relief of Hubbard vs. Texas Tech), freshman RB Dominic Richardson (#20) (rushed for 169 yards and three scores at Baylor)
Miami Fla.: senior QB D’Eriq King (#1) (tied for No. 12 in the FBS in TD passes)
Valero ALAMO BOWL
(20) TEXAS (6-3) vs. COLORADO (4-1) – Big 12 vs. Pac-12 – Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas – 9pm EST – ESPN
First year: 1993
Most appearances: Texas (3-1), Iowa (2-2), Oklahoma State (2-2)
Last year: Texas 38 – (12) Utah 10
Texas is 30-24-2 in bowl play. It beat then (12) Utah 38-10 in last year’s Alamo Bowl, also its third-consecutive bowl victory.
Colorado is 12-17 in bowl action. It hasn’t gone bowling since 2016 when it fell 38-8 to then (13) Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl. It hasn’t won a bowl game since the 2004 Houston Bowl, a 33-28 win over UTEP. It’s most recent bowl win over a current Power 5 member came in the 1999 Insight.com Bowl, a 62-28 beatdown of Boston College.
A rematch of the 2005 and 2001 Big 12 title games as well as the 1975 Bluebonnet Bowl, these two have met 18 times previously but not since 2009. Texas leads the all-time series 11-7 and has won five-straight.
Line: Texas -9
This one will likely come down to how effectively Colorado’s defense can contain Texas’ passing attack (ranked No. 29 nationally and No. 3 in the Big 12). Where the Buffs’ No. 47 national mark vs. the pass isn’t alarming, they’ve only faced two offenses in 2020 currently ranked better than No. 70 in passing yards per game. They gave up 303 passing yards to UCLA (No. 68 overall/No. 6 in the Pac-12 in passing O), which has averaged 224 this season and a season-high 327 to Stanford (No. 22 in the FBS/No. 2 in the Pac-12) which has averaged 287. Offensively, the Buffs – which have had more success running the ball (218 rushing yards per game, No. 18 in the FBS) – will have to get ‘er done vs. a Longhorn D allowing, on average 136 rushing yards per game. It’s no coincidence that Colorado’s only loss this season (a 38-21 defeat vs. Utah in the finale) was also its least productive rushing game, gaining a mere 110 ground yards.
Texas will be without junior LB Joseph Ossai (tied for No. 2 in the FBS in tackles for a loss) who has declared for the NFL draft and will skip the bowl game.
Players to Watch
Texas: senior QB Sam Ehlinger (#11) (tied for No. 8 in the FBS in TD passes)
Colorado: sophomore TB Jarek Broussard (#23) (No. 2 in the FBS in rushing yards per game), junior OLB Carson Wells (#26) (tied for No. 13 in the FBS in tackles for a loss)
Wednesday, Dec. 30
DUKE’S MAYO BOWL
WAKE FOREST (4-4) vs. WISCONSIN (3-3) – ACC vs. Big Ten – Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C. – Noon EST – ESPN
First year: 2002
Previous names: Continental Tire (2002-04), Meineke Car Care (2005-10), Belk (2011-19)
Most Appearances: North Carolina (1-3)
Last year: Kentucky 37 – Virginia Tech 30
Wake Forest is 9-5 in bowl action. It fell 27-21 to Michigan State in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl. The most recent win came in the 2017 edition of the Belk Bowl (now the Duke’s Mayo Bowl), a 55-52 victory over Texas A&M.
Wisconsin is 16-15 in bowl play. It got edged 28-27 by then (7) Oregon in last season’s Rose Bowl. The last win came the year before, in 2018, a 35-3 victory over Miami Fla. in the Pinstripe Bowl.
This is Wake Forest and Wisconsin’s first-ever football meeting.
Line: Wisconsin -7
Tune in to this one to watch Wake Forest’s offense (No. 19 in the nation/No. 3 in the ACC in scoring) take on Wisconsin’s super-elite defense. The Badgers are currently ranked No. 6 – nationally – in each of the big three statistical categories – scoring D, rushing D, and passing D. It will be the stiffest test of the season for a Demon Deacon offense that scored 40-plus during four of its eight outings this season – 42 in a narrow loss at (23) NC State, 66 in a beatdown of FCS Campbell, 40 in a win vs. Virginia and most recently, 53 in a close loss at (13) North Carolina. It’s old school vs. new school in a provocative encounter.
Wake Forest will be without sophomore RB Kenneth Walker III (tied for No. 8 in the FBS in rushing TDs) who opted out of the remainder of the season in early December.
Players to Watch
Wake Forest: junior WR Jaquarii Roberson (#5) (No. 22 in the FBS in receiving yards per game)
Wisconsin: sophomore ILB Leo Chenal (#45) (tied for No. 15 in the Big Ten in sacks and No. 17 in tackles for a loss)
Goodyear COTTON BOWL CLASSIC
(7) FLORIDA (8-3) vs. (6) OKLAHOMA (8-2, Big 12 Champions) – SEC vs. Big 12 – AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas – 8pm EST – ESPN
First year: 1937
Most appearances: Texas (11-10-1)
Last year: (13) Penn State 53 – (15) Memphis 39
Florida is 24-21 in bowl play. It outlasted Virginia 36-28 in last year’s Orange Bowl, also its third-straight bowl win.
Oklahoma is 29-23-1 in bowl action. It got destroyed 63-28 by then (1) LSU in last season’s Peach Bowl/CFP semifinal, also its third-consecutive bowl loss. The most recent win came in the 2016 Sugar Bowl, a 35-19 victory over then (17) Auburn.
A rematch of the 2008/09 BCS Championship game – a 24-14 win for the Gators – this is only the second time that Florida and Oklahoma have clashed on the gridiron.
Line: Florida -3
This matchup features two of the best passing attacks in the nation in what should be a yard-a-palooza. In one corner, it’s Florida, owner and operator of the most lethal air attack in the nation, averaging a cool 388 passing yards per game while in the other it’s Oklahoma, the No. 12 ranked unit, cranking out 321. On paper, the Sooners have the better defense – ranked No. 75 against the pass vs. the Gators’ No. 91 rank – but it’s far from an apples-to-apples comparison. The best three passing attacks Oklahoma faced in 2020 were Texas (No. 29 in the FBS in passing yards per game), Texas Tech (No. 33) and Iowa State (No. 45). Compare that to Florida’s best three – Alabama (No. 5), Ole Miss (No. 6) and LSU (No. 15). Yikes!
Florida will be without junior TE Kyle Pitts (tied for No. 3 in the FBS in TD receptions) and senior WR Kadarius Toney (tied for No. 5 in the FBS in TD receptions) – both have declared for the NFL draft and won’t play in the bowl game.
Players to Watch
Florida: senior QB Kyle Trask (#11) (No. 1 in the FBS in both passing yards per game and TD passes), , junior LB Ventrell Miller (#51) (tied for No. 16 in the FBS in solo tackles)
Oklahoma: freshman QB Spencer Rattler (#7) (tied for No. 8 in the FBS in TD passes), junior DL Isaiah Thomas (#95) (tied for No. 10 in the FBS in sacks and No. 22 in tackles for a loss), sophomore OLB Nik Bonitto (#11) (tied for No. 14 in the FBS in sacks)