College football bowl schedule: 2022 breakdown, Part IV – Dec. 26-28

By Amy Daughters -

The fourth installment of the 2022 college football bowl schedule includes the nine games that are spread out between Monday and Wednesday. It’s the opening salvo of a 25-game run in a mere eight days – one of the wackiest, wildest rides of the season.

Of the nine pairings on tap, six (or 67 percent) feature first-ever matchups. Of the remaining three, two offer reunions of epic proportions – one between teams who haven’t met in 45 years and the other a rematch 116 years in the making. It’s a golden opportunity, repeatedly, to be a part of college football history.

Here’s your Part IV mental checklist:

All but Wednesday night’s Holiday Bowl air on ESPN, so set your dial there and you’ll only have to turn away once.

(1) Monday is home to a single contest that kicks off in the afternoon – at 2:30pm ET.

(2) Tuesday features four consecutive games which begin at Noon ET and then kick at 3:15pm, 6:45pm, and 10:15pm. The late-night game is a Power 5 vs. Power 5 matchup worth staying up for.

(3) Wednesday is another four-game buffet with the first two offerings airing – both on ESPN – at 2pm ET and 5:30pm ET. Then comes the magical moment when you change your dial to FOX – at 8pm ET – to watch a ranked Pac-12 team take on the ACC Coastal champs. The evening wraps up back on ESPN at 9pm ET with a Big 12 vs. SEC matchup.

Monday, Dec. 26


NEW MEXICO STATE (6-6) vs. BOWLING GREEN (6-6) – Independents vs. MAC – Ford Field, Detroit, Mich. – 2:30pm ET – ESPN

The Bowl

First year: 2014

Most appearances: Minnesota (2-0)

Last year: Western Michigan 52 – Nevada 24

The Teams

New Mexico State is 3-0-1 in bowl play, most recently appearing in the 2017 Arizona Bowl, a 26-20 win over Utah State in overtime.

Bowling Green is 5-8 in bowl action. It hasn’t gone bowling since the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl, a 58-27 loss to Georgia Southern. The most recent win came in the 2014 Camellia Bowl, a 33-28 decision vs. South Alabama.

The Matchup

This is New Mexico State and Bowling Green’s first-ever football meeting.

Line: Bowling Green -3

Bowling Green’s offense has been much more effective through the air (No. 58 in the FBS/No. 3 in the MAC) than on the ground (No. 121/No. 11) this season. It’s a situation that pairs well with a New Mexico State defense that has performed well this year, ranked No. 52 in the nation in scoring and a lofty No. 13 vs. the pass, giving up, on average, 184 yards per game. It places it one notch above (4) Ohio State’s D at No. 14 and two above (5) Alabama’s at No. 16. The Aggies have only allowed four opponents 190-plus passing yards, two of which were Power 5 members: Wisconsin, Hawaii, Missouri, and Liberty.

Players to Watch

New Mexico State: senior LB Chris Ojoh (#3) (No. 18 in the FBS in solo tackles)

Bowling Green: senior DL Karl Brooks (#11) (tied for No. 8 in the FBS in sacks and No. 8 in tackles for a loss)

Tuesday, Dec. 27


GEORGIA SOUTHERN (6-6) vs. BUFFALO (6-6) – Sun Belt vs. MAC – Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala. – Noon ET – ESPN

The Bowl

First year: 2014

Most appearances: Appalachian State (2-0), Arkansas State (1-1)

Last year: Georgia State 51 – Ball State 20

As a note, there have been two other Camellia Bowls in history. In 1948 Lafayette, Louisiana hosted a postseason game by the same name in which Hardin-Simmons beat Wichita State 49-12. From 1961 to 1975 and then in 1980, the Camellia Bowl was a postseason championship/playoff game for the NAIA (1961-63), NCAA College Division (1964-72), NCAA D-II (1973-75) and NCAA D-IAA (1980) levels – all were played in Sacramento, California. 

The Teams

Georgia Southern is 3-1 in bowl action, most recently besting Louisiana Tech 38-3 in the 2020 New Orleans Bowl.

Buffalo is 2-3 in bowl play. Its last bowl appearance was in the 2020 edition of the Camellia Bowl, a 17-10 victory over Marshall.

The Matchup

This is Georgia Southern and Buffalo’s first-ever football meeting.

Line: Georgia Southern -4

This one will likely come down to how well Buffalo’s defense – ranked No. 54 in the FBS vs. the pass – manages Georgia Southern’s blistering air attack, ranked No. 4 – in America. The Bulls’ D has only faced two passing attacks ranked in the top 25 in yards per game this season: Ohio – averaging 285 (No. 18 in the FBS), which it allowed 317 yards to in a 45-24 loss and Akron – averaging 283 yards (No. 21) which it limited to 254 yards in a narrow 23-22 win. Flip the script and Buffalo’s offense could look like (10) USC against an Eagle defense that’s struggled epically, finishing ranked No. 129 nationally in total D, No. 112 in scoring, No. 129 vs. the run, and No. 102 vs. the pass.

Players to Watch

Georgia Southern: senior QB Kyle Vantrease (#6) (No. 3 in the FBS in passing yards per game) – bonus coverage: Vantrease was the starting QB at Buffalo from 2019-21 before transferring to Georgia Southern

Buffalo: junior LB Shaun Dolac (#52) (No. 1 in the FBS in solo tackles, No. 3 in total tackles), senior LB James Patterson (#8) (tied for No. 9 in the FBS in solo tackles and No. 19 in total tackles), junior S Marcus Fuqua (#10) (No. 1 in the FBS in interceptions)

Double Bonus coverage: Where no quarterback in the FBS has thrown more interceptions this season than has Georgia Southern’s Kyle Vantrease (15), no defender has had more picks than Buffalo safety Marcus Fuqua (7).


MEMPHIS (6-6) vs. UTAH STATE (6-6)– AAC vs. MWC – Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas – 3:15pm ET – ESPN

The Bowl

First year: 2011

Previous names: TicketCity Bowl (2011-12), Heart of Dallas Bowl (2013-17)

Most appearances: North Texas (1-1)

Last year: Air Force 31 – Louisville 28

The Teams

Memphis is 5-8 in bowl action. It was slated to face Hawaii in last season’s Hawaii Bowl but the game was never played after the Warriors withdrew due to COVID-19 issues. The last win came in the 2020 Montgomery Bowl, a 25-10 victory over FAU.

Utah State is 6-8 in bowl play, most recently winning last year’s LA Bowl 24-13 over Oregon State.

The Matchup

Memphis and Utah State have played seven times previously but not since 1977. The Tigers lead the all-time series 4-3 and have won two-straight.

Line: Memphis -7.5

After averaging 179 passing yards in its first nine games, Utah State improved to an average of 263 in its last three appearances. It’s a run that included hanging up 306 on a Boise State defense giving up 161 yards per game – the fifth fewest allowed in the nation. Cue up Memphis, ranked an unsavory, though not dismal, No. 98 nationally vs. the pass and things get interesting. Another trend worth noting, and which may have impact, are turnovers. Where Utah State junior QB Cooper Legas (#5) threw five interceptions in only 83 attempts in his first five appearances, he went mistake-free in his next two starts only to throw four picks in the final two games of the regular season. On the other side of the ball, it’s a strength vs. strength matchup between the Tigers’ passing attack – ranked No. 22 in the FBS – taking on an Aggie D ranked No. 25, again in the nation, vs. the pass.

Players to Watch

Memphis: sophomore QB Seth Henigan (#5) (No. 19 in the FBS in passing yards per game), senior DB Quindell Johnson (#15) (tied for No. 17 in the FBS in interceptions)

Utah State: freshman S Ike Larsen (#19) (tied for No. 17 in the FBS in interceptions)


COASTAL CAROLINA (9-3) vs. EAST CAROLINA (7-5) – Sun Belt vs. AAC – Protective Stadium, Birmingham, Ala. – 6:45pm ET – ESPN

The Bowl

First year: 2006

Previous names: Bowl (2006-10), BBVA Compass Bowl (2011-14)

Most Appearances: South Florida (3-0), Pitt (1-2)

Last year: (21) Houston 17 – Auburn 13

The Teams

Coastal Carolina is 1-1 in bowl play, both appearances coming in the Cure Bowl. Its win last season – a 47-41 triumph over Northern Illinois – was the first bowl victory in program history.

East Carolina is 6-9 in bowl action, it was slated to play Boston College in last year’s Military Bowl but that game was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols. Before that, the Pirates hadn’t been bowling since the 2014 Birmingham Bowl, falling 28-20 to Florida. The last win came in the 2013 Beef O Brady’s Bowl, a 37-20 win over Ohio.

The Matchup

This is Coastal Carolina and East Carolina’s first-ever football meeting. It’s also the Chanticleers’ first-ever game against an opponent that is an American Athletic member at kickoff.

Line: East Carolina -7

These two teams share one unfortunate reality – they both have defenses which have struggled epically vs. the pass. Where Coastal Carolina is ranked an ugly No. 124 nationally in passing yards allowed, East Carolina is an even uglier No. 131, or dead last in the entire nation. Will it be the CCU defense that held a Georgia Southern attack averaging 328 passing yards (No. 4 in the nation) to 284 or the unit that coughed up 320 to a Marshall offense averaging 200 (No. 104)? On the flip side, it’s an ECU defense that finished the regular season allowing 435 yards to a Houston attack averaging 321 (No. 7 in the FBS) and a whopping 527 to a Temple offense averaging 268 (No. 28). While the Pirates’ passing game looks like the bigger threat at No. 16 vs. the Chants No. 52 ranked unit, this one has all the right stuff to make both sides of the scoreboard explode.

With Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell off to take the Liberty job, the Chanticleers will be led in the bowl game by interim head Chad Staggs who has been the DC in Conway since 2019. NC State OC Tim Beck will take over the helm at CCU in 2023.

Players to Watch

Coastal Carolina: junior QB Grayson McCall (#10) (tied for No. 7 in the FBS in completion percentage) – McCall has entered the transfer portal but will play in the Birmingham Bowl.

East Carolina: sophomore RB Keaton Mitchell (#2) (No. 11 in the FBS in rushing yards per game), senior QB Holton Ahlers (#12) (No. 15 in the FBS in passing yards per game)


WISCONSIN (6-6) vs. OKLAHOMA STATE (7-5) – Big Ten vs. Big 12 – Chase Field, Phoenix, Ariz. – 10:15pm ET – ESPN

The Bowl

First year: 1989

Previous names: Copper Bowl (1989-96), Insight Bowl (1997-2011), Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (2012-13), Cactus Bowl (2015-17), Cheez-It Bowl (2018-19)

Most appearances: Kansas State (3-1), Minnesota (1-3)

Last year: Minnesota 18 – West Virginia 6

The Teams

Wisconsin is 18-15 in bowl action, most recently downing Arizona State 20-13 in last season’s Las Vegas Bowl.

Oklahoma State is 21-11 in bowl play, last edging then (5) Notre Dame 37-35 in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.

The Matchup

This is Wisconsin and Oklahoma State’s first-ever football meeting.

Line: Wisconsin -3.5

After starting the season 5-0 and rising as high as No. 7 in the AP, Oklahoma State’s fortunes plummeted losing five of its last seven games. What’s hurt the Cowboys the most is its defense, a unit that lost its star DE Brendon Evans, who announced he was sitting out the remainder of the season to prepare for the NFL Draft on October 20, or just as the downward trend began. Where OSU gave up, on average, 119 rushing yards per game to its first five opponents it allowed 199-plus to six of its last seven including 351 to Kansas and 250 to West Virginia. It adds up to Wisconsin – which may not be the elite rushing team that its been in the past but is still home to the No. 20 back in the country – being a dangerous opponent.

Both teams have lost their starting quarterbacks to the transfer portal: Oklahoma State senior Spencer Sanders (No. 25 in the FBS in passing yards per game) and Wisconsin junior Graham Mertz.

The Badgers will also be without junior OLB Nick Herbig (#19) (tied for No. 4 in the FBS in sacks and No. 14 in tackles for a loss), who has opted out of the bowl game and declared for the NFL Draft.

Wisconsin’s new head coach Luke Fickell will be on the sidelines at the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, referring to his participation as a “soft opening” for his new role. He’ll “defer to the incumbent coaching staff” – including interim head Jim Leonhard (who led the Badgers to a 4-3 mark after the release of Paul Chryst on Oct. 2) – for the actual in-game decision making.

Players to Watch

Wisconsin: sophomore RB Braelon Allen (#0) (No. 20 in the FBS in rushing yards per game)

Oklahoma State: senior S Jason Taylor II (#25) (tied for No. 2 in the FBS in interceptions)

Wednesday, Dec. 28


UCF (9-4) vs. DUKE (8-4) – AAC vs. ACC – Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md. – 2pm ET – ESPN

The Bowl

First year: 2008

Previous names: EagleBank Bowl (2008-09)

Most appearances: Navy (2-1), Temple (0-3)

Last year: Canceled due to COVID-19 protocols

The Teams

UCF is 6-7 in bowl action, last besting Florida 29-17 in the 2021 Gasparilla Bowl.

Duke is 6-8 in bowl play. It hasn’t been bowling since the 2018 Independence Bowl, a 56-27 win over Temple, also its third-straight bowl victory.

The Matchup

This is UCF and Duke’s first-ever football meeting.

Line: Duke -3

This is a great strength vs. strength matchup between UCF’s elite rushing attack – ranked No. 8 in the FBS – and a Duke defense ranked No. 24 nationally vs. the run. It’s no coincidence that the Knights’ two most shocking losses came to the best rush defenses they faced this season. They gained just 130 rushing yards (the second fewest in 2022) in the 34-13 loss to an East Carolina D ranked No. 18 in the FBS vs. the run and a season-low 84 in the 17-14 loss to a Navy defense ranked No. 6 against the run. Duke has limited opposing offenses to, on average, only 120 ground yards per game and have fallen each time they’ve allowed an FBS foe that number or more: 204 in the 35-27 loss at Kansas, 180 in the 23-20 loss at Georgia Tech, 156 in the 38-35 defeat to North Carolina, and 120 in the 28-26 defeat at Pitt.

Players to Watch

UCF: senior LB Jason Johnson (#15) (No. 12 in the FBS in total tackles, No. 15 in solo tackles), junior RB RJ Harvey (#22) (No. 16 in the FBS in yards per carry)

Duke: senior DB Darius Joiner (#1) (tied for No. 28 in the FBS in solo tackles)


KANSAS (6-6) vs. ARKANSAS (6-6) – Big 12 vs. SEC – Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, Memphis, Tenn. – 5:30pm ET – ESPN

The Bowl

First year: 1959

Most appearances: Mississippi State (3-2), Arkansas (2-3)

Last year: Texas Tech 34 – Mississippi State 7

The Teams

Kansas is 6-6 in bowl action. It hasn’t gone bowling in 14 years, or since the 2008 Insight Bowl, a 42-21 win over Minnesota, also its third-consecutive bowl win.

Arkansas is 16-24-3 in bowl play, last downing Penn State 24-10 in the 2021 Outback Bowl.

The Matchup

Kansas and Arkansas last met 116 years ago, the back end of a home-and-home series in 1905/06. The Jayhawks won both meetings by a combined score of 43-5.

Line: Arkansas -3

What you’ve got here is two teams whose fortunes have pivoted on their running games. Arkansas is ranked a lofty No. 9 in rushing offense, averaging 270 yards per game in its six wins vs. 177 in its six losses. Kansas, while not as elite, is ranked No. 34 in rushing offense but follows a similar pattern – a 241 rushing yard average in is six wins vs. a 147-yard mark in the six defeats. The two also share a common weakness – a significant struggle to stop the run. Where the Razorbacks are ranked No. 104 in the FBS/No. 12 in the SEC vs. the run the Jayhawks are No. 115 nationally/dead last in the Big 12. The defense which best overcomes adversity wins this one.

Arkansas will be without leading tackler junior LB Drew Sanders (#42) (tied for No. 10 in the FBS in sacks) who is opting out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Players to Watch

Kansas: senior S Kenny Logan Jr. (#1) (tied for No. 9 in the FBS in total tackles), sophomore RB Devin Neal (#4) (No. 30 in the FBS in rushing yards per game)

Arkansas: sophomore RB Raheim Sanders (#5) (No. 12 in the FBS in rushing yards per game)


NORTH CAROLINA (9-4) vs. (15) OREGON (9-3) – ACC vs. Pac-12 – Petco Park, San Diego, Calif. – 8pm ET – FOX

The Bowl

First year: 1978

Most appearances: BYU (4-6-1)

Last year: Canceled due to COVID-19

The Teams

North Carolina is 15-21 in bowl play, most recently falling 38-21 to South Carolina in last season’s Mayo Bowl, also its second-straight bowl loss. It last won in the 2019 Military Bowl, a 55-13 beatdown of Temple. It hasn’t beaten a Power 5 foe in a bowl game since the 2010 Music City Bowl a 30-27 win in double overtime over Tennessee.

Oregon is 15-20 in bowl action, last losing 47-32 to then (14) Oklahoma in last year’s Alamo Bowl. It last tasted victory in the 2019/20 Rose Bowl, a narrow 28-27 win over then (11) Wisconsin.

The Matchup

This is North Carolina and Oregon’s first-ever football meeting.

Line: Oregon -14.5

North Carolina was on a 9-1 run and ranked No. 13 in the AP coming into its’ Nov. 19 home date vs. Georgia Tech. That’s when the bottom dropped out – a 21-17 loss to the Yellow Jackets followed by a 30-27 defeat to NC State in the regular-season finale. What came next was a 39-10 defeat to (7) Clemson in the ACC title game. Suddenly, just like that, the Tar Heels were 9-4 and unranked. What happened? Well, for one thing, UNCs prolific passing game – ranked No. 9 in the FBS – stalled down the stretch, going from averaging 342 yards in its first ten games to 236 in its final three. It sets up as a golden opportunity to rebound against an Oregon defense that has performed reasonably well against the run (No. 32 in the FBS) but has had mixed results vs. the pass (No. 107 nationally). The Ducks have given up 400-plus passing yards twice this season, both resulting in losses, 439 in the opener vs. (1) Georgia (currently ranked No. 19 in passing yards per game) and 408 vs. (12) Washington (No. 1 in the FBS in passing offense). Flip the script and the Tar Heels share a similar defensive reality, only their struggles have been across the board ranked No. 105 in scoring, No. 83 vs. the run and No. 121 vs. the pass. It will be no small feat to try and contain a balanced Duck offense ranked No. 9 in scoring, No. 14 in rushing yards per game and No. 15 in passing. This is a fascinating matchup and should be high scoring.

North Carolina will be without junior WR Josh Downs (tied for No. 11 in the FBS in receiving yards per game) who is opting out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Oregon will be without sophomore DB Christian Gonzalez (tied for No. 17 in the FBS in interceptions) who is also opting out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Players to Watch

North Carolina: freshman QB Drake Maye (#10) (No. 5 in the FBS in passing yards per game, tied for No. 5 in passing TDs), junior LB Cedric Gray (#33) (No. 2 in the FBS in total tackles and solo tackles), sophomore LB Power Echols (#23) (tied for No. 9 in the FBS in solo tackles)

Oregon: senior QB Bo Nix (#10) (No. 8 in the FBS in passer rating, No. 2 in completion percentage)


TEXAS TECH (7-5) vs. OLE MISS (8-4) – Big 12 vs. SEC – NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas – 9pm ET – ESPN

The Bowl

First year: 2006

Most appearances: Texas A&M (2-1), Kansas State (2-1)

Last year: Kansas State 42 – LSU 20

The Teams

Texas Tech is 15-23-1 in bowl action, most recently downing Mississippi State 34-7 in last season’s Liberty Bowl.

Ole Miss is 24-15 in bowl play, last falling 21-7 to then (6) Baylor in last year’s Sugar Bowl. Its most recent win came the season before in the 2020 Outback Bowl, a 26-20 victory over then (7) Indiana.

The Matchup

A rematch of the 2008/09 Cotton Bowl and the 1998 and 1986 Independence Bowls (all wins for the Rebels), Texas Tech and Ole Miss have met six times previously. The Rebels hold a 4-2 advantage, the Red Raiders’ only wins came in a home-and-home in 2002/03.

Line: Ole Miss -3.5

Ole Miss’s offensive bread and butter this year has been its running game, ranked an elite No. 3 in the FBS. It’s no coincidence that three of its four losses were also three of its poorest rushing performances – a 117-yard day in the 45-20 loss at (17) LSU, a 191-yard performance in the 30-24 defeat vs. (5) Alabama and then a season-low 78-yard day in the 24-22 loss vs. (22) Mississippi State. For Texas Tech’s defense it’s been a tale of two seasons vs. the run. The Red Raiders held their first seven opponents to 136 rushing yards per game only to allow their last five 209. Tech will have to find a way to squelch the running Rebels to achieve its first back-to-back bowl wins since 2012-13.

Players to Watch

Texas Tech: senior LB Krishon Merriweather (#1) (tied for No. 9 in the FBS in solo tackles)

Ole Miss: freshman RB Quinshon Judkins (#4) (No. 9 in the FBS in rushing yards per game, tied for No. 7 in rushing TDs)

Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference/College Football. Statistics courtesy of Lines courtesy of OddsShark.

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