On tap for part one of your holiday hangover are nine bowl games – spread evenly from Wednesday until Friday.
As far as when and where to tune it, the good folks over at ESPN have made it super simple – three games each day, all at the same three times (1:30pm, 5:15pm and 9pm EST), all on ESPN.
Among the highlights are the first the first two bowl games featuring ranked vs. ranked matchups, occurring back-to-back on Wednesday. (16) West Virginia takes on (20) Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl at 5:15pm EST and then (24) Iowa State squares off with (13) Washington State at 9pm EST.
Of the nine contests, five feature matchups we’ve never seen before (the Quick Lane, Cheez-It, Independence, Music City and Alamo Bowls) while one features a pairing we haven’t seen since the end of the Korean War (the Texas Bowl).
After the dust settles, we’ll have only 17 college football games remaining to watch for the 2018 season. Therefore, friends, now is not the time to tune out.
Wednesday, Dec. 26
SERVPRO First Responder BOWL
BOSTON COLLEGE (7-5) vs. (25) BOISE STATE (10-3) – ACC vs. MWC – Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas – 1:30pm EST – ESPN
First year: 2011
Previous names: TicketCity (2011-12), Heart of Dallas (2013-17)
Most Appearances: North Texas (1-1)
Last year: Utah 30 – West Virginia 14
Boston College is 14-12 in bowl action. It lost to Iowa 27-20 in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl. The most recent win came in the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl, a 36-30 victory over Maryland.
Boise State is 12-6 in bowl play. It beat Oregon 38-28 in last season’s Las Vegas Bowl.
The Eagles and Broncos have only met once previously, the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl, a 27-21 win for Boston College.
Line: Boise State -2.5
The key mismatch in this game is Boise State’s high-flying passing attack – ranked No. 17 in nation – taking on a BC defense ranked No. 97 vs. the pass. The common thread in two of the Broncos’ three losses this season was being held to fewer than 200 yards passing – a low-mark they hit vs. San Diego State (178) and Fresno State (125) in the MWC title game. The Eagles D, on the other hand, gave up an average of 198 air yards in its seven wins vs. 316 average in its five losses. Whomever wins this matchup will likely be the First Responder to the trophy.
Players to Watch
Boston College: sophomore running back AJ Dillon (#2) (No. 12 in the FBS in rushing yards per game). Reported as questionable after suffering an injury vs. Syracuse.
Boise State: junior running back Alexander Mattison (#22) (No. 5 in the FBS in rushing touchdowns), senior quarterback Brett Rypien (#4) (No. 12 in the FBS in passing yards per game), sophomore STUD Curtis Weaver (#99) (No. 14 in the FBS in sacks).
QUICK LANE BOWL
MINNESOTA (6-6) vs. GEORGIA TECH (7-5) – Big Ten vs. ACC – Ford Field, Detroit, Mich. – 5:15pm EST – ESPN
First year: 2014
Most appearances: Boston College, Duke, Minnesota and Rutgers (all 1-0) and Central Michigan, Maryland, North Carolina and Northern Illinois (all 0-1)
Last year: Duke 36 – Northern Illinois 14
Minnesota is 7-12 in bowl action. It last went bowling in 2016, defeating Washington State 17-12 in the Holiday Bowl.
Georgia Tech is 25-19 in bowl play. It also last played in a bowl in 2016, beating Kentucky 33-18 in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
This is the Golden Gophers and Yellow Jackets first-ever football meeting. Minnesota is 14-7 vs. the current membership of the ACC while Georgia Tech is 23-13 vs. the Big Ten.
Line: Georgia Tech -3.5
Minnesota has struggled on both sides of the ball in 2018 (ranked No. 69 in scoring offense and No. 75 in scoring defense). To have a shot at getting over .500, it’ll have to contend with Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack, ranked No. 1 in the nation in rushing yards and No. 126 in passing. The Gophers are currently No. 76 nationally and No. 9 in the Big Ten vs. the run. They’ve allowed, on average, 183.1 ground yards per game this season. While not a travesty, the bigger picture is while they held six of their opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards, they allowed another three 315-plus. Though the trio all ranks among the 30 best rushing teams in the nation (Illinois at No. 13, Maryland at No. 17 and Nebraska at No. 27) none have been as successful on the ground as Georgia Tech.
This is Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson’s final game at the helm.
Players to Watch
Minnesota: freshman running back Mohamed Ibrahim (#24) (No. 19 in the FBS in rushing yards per game), junior wide receiver Tyler Johnson (#6) (tied for the seventh-most receiving touchdowns in the FBS).
Georgia Tech: senior quarterback TaQuon Marshall (#16) (tied for the fifth-most rushing touchdowns by a QB in the FBS).
CALIFORNIA (7-5) vs. TCU (6-6) – Pac-12 vs. Big 12 – Chase Field, Phoenix, Ariz. – 9pm EST – ESPN
First year: 1989
Previous names: Copper (1989-96), Insight (1997-2011), Buffalo Wild Wings (2012-13), Cactus (2015-17)
Most appearances: Kansas State (3-1)
Last year: Kansas State 35 – UCLA 17
Cal is 11-10-1 in bowl play. It hasn’t been bowling since the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl, a 55-36 win over Air Force.
TCU is 16-6-1 in bowl action. It edged (15) Stanford 38-37 in last season’s Alamo Bowl.
This is the Golden Bears and Horned Frogs first-ever football meeting. Cal is 11-14 vs. the current Big 12 while TCU is 15-16 vs. the Pac-12.
Though both schools traditionally have high-flying attacks, in 2018 Cal and TCU have both struggled to score points (the Golden Bears are ranked No. 108 in scoring while the Horned Frogs are No. 97). Of the two defenses, Cal has been slightly more successful in shutting opponents down (No. 24 in defensive scoring, No. 31 vs. the run and No. 25 vs. the pass) than has TCU (No. 44 in scoring, No. 41 vs. the run and No. 40 in the pass). This narrow statistical gap can at least be partially explained by the Horned Frogs’ membership in the point-happy Big 12. This one should be low-scoring and close.
Players to Watch
Cal: junior inside linebacker Evan Weaver (#89) (No. 5 in the FBS in total tackles and solo tackles), senior inside linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk (#59) (No. 8 in the FBS in total tackles and No. 4 in solo tackles).
TCU: senior defensive end Ben Banogu (#15) (No. 18 in the FBS in tackles for a loss).
Thursday, Dec. 27
Walk On’s INDEDPENDENCE BOWL
TEMPLE (8-4) vs. DUKE (7-5) – AAC vs. ACC – Independence Stadium, Shreveport, La. – 1:30pm EST – ESPN
First year: 1976
Previous names: AdvoCare 100 (2013)
Most appearances: Ole Miss (4-1)
Last year: Florida State 42 – Southern Miss 13
Temple is 3-4 in bowl play. It beat FIU 28-3 in last year’s Gasparilla Bowl. It hasn’t beaten a Power 5 member in bowl action since the 1979 Garden State Bowl, a 28-17 win over Cal.
Duke is 5-8 in bowl action. It beat Northern Illinois 36-14 in last season’s Quick Lane Bowl, also its second-consecutive bowl win.
This is the first-ever football meeting between Temple and Duke. The Owls are 32-121-4 vs. the current membership of the ACC, the bulk coming vs. Syracuse (10-26-1), Boston College (7-29-2) and Pitt (7-28-1). The Blue Devils are 27-30-5 against the American Athletic, most of which comes via a 15-20-5 mark against Navy.
Line: Temple -3.5
Temple has done a good job finding the end zone this season – it’s No. 22 nationally in scoring, averaging 35.6 points per game. Though it has been more successful through the air (No. 40 nationally) than on the ground (No. 67), it’s the running game that has an opportunity to shine vs. Duke. The Blue Devils are an awful No. 117 vs. the run which means only 13 programs in the FBS have been more generous. It’s an issue that’s gotten worse as the season has progressed – Duke gave up an average of 145.8 yards and nine total rushing touchdowns in its first seven outings (posting a 5-2 record) only to cough up 329.4 yards on average and 16 total scores in its last five (resulting in a 2-3 mark).
Players to Watch
Temple: senior running back Ryquell Armstead (#7) (No. 13 in the FBS in rushing yards per game).
Duke: junior quarterback Daniel Jones (#17) (No. 4 in the ACC in passing yards per game and tied for No. 2 in touchdown passes).
New Era PINSTRIPE BOWL
MIAMI FLA. (7-5) vs. WISCONSIN (7-5) – ACC vs. BIG TEN – Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y. – 5:15pm EST – ESPN
First year: 2010
Most appearances: Syracuse (2-0), Rutgers (1-1), Boston College (0-2)
Last year: Iowa 27 – Boston College 20
Miami Fla. is 19-20 in bowl action. It last won the 2016 Russell Athletic, a 31-14 triumph over then (14) West Virginia.
Wisconsin is 15-14 in bowl play. It’s won its last four-straight bowl appearances, last falling to then (8) South Carolina in the 2013/14 Capital One Bowl.
A rematch of last season’s Orange Bowl – when (6) Wisconsin beat (11) Miami – these two also clashed in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl (also a win for the Badgers). The other three meetings occurred in the regular season between 1958 and 1989. Wisconsin leads 3-2.
Line: Miami Fla. -2.5
Both the Hurricanes (at No. 8) and the Badgers (at No. 4) were ranked in the AP’s preseason Top 10. For each, a bowl win, even over an unranked opponent, means crucial momentum going in to 2019, especially given the level of results vs. expectations. The key matchup is Wisconsin’s rushing attack – ranked No. 7 nationally – taking on a Miami D ranked a lofty No. 24 vs. the run. The Hurricanes will be without senior defensive tackle Gerald Willis III (No. 14 in the FBS in tackles for a loss) who is out with a hand injury.
Players to Watch
Miami Fla.: sophomore defensive end Jonathan Garvin (#97) (No. 23 in the FBS in tackles for a loss), junior defensive end Joe Jackson (#99) (No. 24 in the FBS in sacks).
Wisconsin: sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor (#23) (No. 1 in the FBS in rushing yards per game).
Academy Sports + Outdoors TEXAS BOWL
BAYLOR (6-6) vs. VANDERBILT (6-6) – Big 12 vs. SEC – NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas – 9pm EST – ESPN
First year: 2006
Previous names: Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (2011-12)
Most appearances: Kansas State (1-1), Texas (1-1), Texas A&M (1-1), Texas Tech (1-1), Minnesota (0-2) and Missouri (0-2).
Last year: Texas 33 – Missouri 16
Baylor is 12-11 in bowl play. It most recently beat Boise State 31-12 in the 2016 Cactus Bowl.
Vanderbilt is 4-3-1 in bowl play. It also last went bowling in 2016, a 41-17 loss to NC State in the Independence Bowl. The most recent win came in the 2013 Compass Bowl, a 41-24 win over Houston.
Baylor and Vanderbilt haven’t met in 64-years, a home-and-home series in 1953 and 1954, both wins for the Bears.
Line: Vanderbilt -2.5
This one will likely come down to how well the Commodores’ defense can contain Baylor’s passing attack – ranked No. 22 in the nation. Vanderbilt is currently ranked No. 71 nationally and No. 10 in the SEC vs. the pass. The only opponents it’s faced with a higher-ranked passing attack than the Bears are Nevada (No. 20), which it held to 216 air yards in a 41-10 win and Ole Miss (No. 5), which it gave up a season-high 457 passing yards to in a 36-29 loss. The other key factor are turnovers, a category Baylor has been super-inconsistent in this season. The Bears are plus-two in turnover margin in their six wins vs. minus-ten in their six losses. Baylor will be without their top receiver, senior Jalen Hurd, who is out after knee surgery.
Players to Watch
Baylor: sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer (#12) (No. 5 in the Big 12 in passing yards per game), junior wide receiver Denzel Mims (#15) (No. 10 in the Big 12 in touchdown receptions).
Vanderbilt: junior running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn (#5) (No. 24 in the FBS in yards per carry) – listed as questionable due to an arm injury, junior cornerback Joejuan Williams (#8) (tied for the fourth-most interceptions in the FBS).
Friday, Dec. 28
Franklin American Mortgage MUSIC CITY BOWL
PURDUE (6-6) vs. AUBURN (7-5) – Big Ten vs. SEC – Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn. – 1:30pm EST – ESPN
First year: 1998
Most appearances: Kentucky (2-3)
Last year: (20) Northwestern 24 – Kentucky 23
Purdue is 10-8 in bowl play. It edged Arizona 38-35 in last season’s Foster Farms Bowl.
Auburn is 23-17-2 in bowl action. It lost 34-27 to (10) UCF in last year’s Peach Bowl. It hasn’t won a bowl game since the 2015 Birmingham Bowl, a 31-10 win over Memphis. The Tigers haven’t beaten a Power 5 club in bowl play since downing Virginia in the 2011 Chick-Fil-A-Bowl.
This is the first-ever football meeting between Purdue and Auburn. The Boilermakers are 12-8 vs. the current membership of the SEC while the Tigers are 11-8-2 against the Big Ten.
Line: Auburn -3.5
The highest-ranked single unit coming into this game is Purdue’s passing attack, ranked No. 10 in the nation. That’s two slots better than Oklahoma State at No. 12 and two slots below Oklahoma at No. 8. Though Auburn is ranked No. 18 in scoring defense (No. 5 in the SEC), it’s been slightly more successful defending the run (No. 39) than the pass (No. 58). It’s also lost ground as the season has progressed – holding opponents to an average of 188 passing yards in its first six games only to give up 256 in its final six. The only other top-ranked aerial attacks the Tigers have faced in 2018 are Ole Miss (No. 5), allowing 324 yards in a 31-16 win, and Alabama (No. 7), giving up a season-high 377 in a 52-21 loss. The other fascinating element is how each team will feel coming into this game – Purdue was expected to finish at the bottom of the Big Ten West (so this game is a reward) while Auburn was ranked No. 9 in the preseason AP (making this game seem like a huge disappointment).
Players to Watch
Purdue: senior quarterback David Blough (#11) (No. 10 in the FBS in passing yards per game), freshman wide receiver Rondale Moore (#4) (No. 1 in the FBS in receptions, No. 7 in touchdown receptions and No. 13 in receiving yards per game).
Auburn: senior linebacker Deshaun Davis (No. 5 in the SEC in total tackles and No. 6 in tackles for a loss).
CAMPING WORLD BOWL
(16) WEST VIRGINIA (8-3) vs. (20) SYRACUSE (9-3) – Big 12 vs. ACC – Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla. – 5:15pm 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)
Most appearances: NC State (3-2), Miami Fla. (3-2)
Last year: Oklahoma State 30 – Virginia Tech 21
West Virginia is 15-21 in bowl play. It’s lost two straight bowl games, last edging Arizona State 43-42 in the 2015 Cactus Bowl.
Syracuse is 15-9-1 in bowl action. It hasn’t been bowling since the 2013 Texas Bowl, a 21-17 win over Minnesota.
A rematch of the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl, West Virginia and Syracuse shared membership in the Big East from 1991 until 2011. The Orange lead 33-27 and have won three-straight.
Line: West Virginia -7
Both the Mountaineers and Orange have managed to score plenty of points this season (WVU is ranked No. 9 in scoring offense while Syracuse is No. 12). The difference is, the Orange have achieved a better balance, ranked No. 31 in rushing and No. 36 in passing vs. the Mountaineers’ No. 75 rank in rushing and No. 3 rank in passing. Defensively, both have done better against the run (WVU at No. 48 and Syracuse at No. 65) than vs. the pass (WVU at No. 101 and Syracuse at No. 111). This gives an advantage (despite the fact that senior quarterback Will Grier will skip the game to prep for the NFL Draft) to the pass-happy Mountaineers.
Players to Watch
West Virginia: senior wide receiver David Sills V (#13) (No. 2 in the FBS in touchdown receptions), junior linebacker David Long, Jr. (#11) (No. 10 in the FBS in tackles for a loss).
Syracuse: junior defensive end Alton Robinson (#94) (No. 9 in the FBS in sacks and No. 18 in tackles for a loss).
Valero ALAMO BOWL
(24) Iowa State (8-4) vs. (13) Washington State (10-2) – Big 12 vs. Pac-12 – Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas – 9pm EST – ESPN
First year: 1993
Most appearances: Iowa (2-2), Oklahoma State (2-2)
Last year: (13) TCU 39 – (15) Stanford 37
Iowa State is 4-9 in bowl action. It edged (19) Memphis 21-20 in last season’s Liberty Bowl.
Washington State is 7-7 in bowl play. It got smashed 42-17 by (18) Michigan State in last year’s Holiday Bowl. Its most recent win came in the 2015 Sun Bowl, a 20-14 victory over Miami Fla.
This is Iowa State and Washington State’s first-ever football meeting. The Cyclones are 21-58-2 vs. the current Pac-12, the bulk coming via a 15-49-1 mark against Colorado (the two shared membership in the Big 8 and Big 12). The Cougars are 8-21 against the Big 12.
Line: Washington State -1
Washington State should look eerily familiar to Iowa State. The Cougars are ranked a scary No. 1 in passing offense and a lowly No. 129 in rushing offense, making them look like a Big 12 program. The Cyclones D has held up well against a barrage of prolific aerial attacks this season, earning a No. 67 rank in pass defense despite facing the current No. 3, No. 4, No. 8 and No. 12 ranked passing offenses. The difference is, Washington State has a solid defense, which is something you can’t say about most of the Big 12. The Cougars are No. 39 in scoring, No. 37 vs. the run and No. 48 vs. the pass. So, they ought to be able to stave off Iowa State’s No. 81 ranked scoring offense.
Players to Watch
Iowa State: junior wide receiver Hakeem Butler (#18) (No. 1 in the FBS in yards per reception and No. 15 in receiving yards per game).
Washington State: senior quarterback Gardner Minshew II (#16) (No. 1 in the FBS in passing yards per game and No. 3 in completion percentage).