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College Football Bowl Games: Ranking All 41. How Good Is Your Bowl?

College Football News logo College Football News 12/17/2022 Pete Fiutak
© Provided by College Football News

How good are all the bowl games? How good are the matchups? We rank all 41 from the best-looking to the worst. How good is your bowl game?

College Football Bowl Games: Ranking Every Bowl, Pre-Bowls

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

We’re not getting an expanded College Football Playoff until the 2024 season – that’s going to supercharge this time of year – and now college football is in this strange sort of holding pattern.

The transfer portal is gutting some teams. Players are opting out of the bigger bowls to get ready for the NFL. Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba isn’t able to go in the CFP semifinal against Georgia. Coaches are switching teams, injuries are an issue, and …

Reality has come to breakfast. The business of college football no longer jibes with the exhibition aspect to the end of the season.


We’re getting 41 bowl games – assuming some teams don’t opt out if they just don’t have the personnel – and that means at least half will be awful-to-meh, a  bunch will be fun, and there will be a few that pop up here and there that restore your faith in humanity.

Yes, you may quibble with the interest you might have in the various bowls – OF COURSE you’re watching Michigan vs TCU no matter what. This is all based on what the best games should potentially be.

And with that, here’s our ranking of how good these bowl games should be. The hope is that most of the ones on the bottom rise up and rock, all while knowing that a slew of the top-ranked bowls will fizzle badly.

Here’s how the bowls are categorized as we ask the question. How good is your bowl? (We’ll revisit at the end and rerank based on how good they actually were.)

– Deep Cuts (32-41) | It’s Football. You’ll Watch (25-32)

Bowls. Just Bowls (17-24) | Restaurant Quality (9-16)

Watch or Die (1-8) | Initial Thoughts, Picks on all 41

Bowl Game Rankings: Deep Cuts

Here’s the plan. It’s a bowl game so you have to at least turn it on. If it’s awful, get out and save yourself for later because they keep throwing the bowls at you. However, check back once in a while to make sure you’re not missing anything.

41. Camellia Bowl

Buffalo vs Georgia Southern

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

12:00, ESPN

Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AL

Last Year: Georgia State 51, Ball State 20

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 24, 2020: 10, 2019: 29

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 27, 2020: 7, 2019: 17

It’s all about Buffalo. Georgia Southern has a big-time offense that’s going to push for 40 points. The Bulls have to prove they can keep up, and the first guess is no, they won’t be able to. That doesn’t mean this can’t be entertaining for a while, but it might mostly be a showcase for the Eagles and former UB QB Kyle Vantrease.

40. HomeTown Lenders Bahamas Bowl

UAB vs Miami University

Friday, December 16, 2022

11:30 am, ESPN

Line: UAB -11.5, o/u: 43.5

Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas

Last Year: Middle Tennessee 31, Toledo 24

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 10, 2020: NA, 2019: 28

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 42, 2020: NA, 2019: 24

The Bahamas Bowl almost never goes according to plan. It’s right out of the gate, teams know in advance that they’re going to make travel plans, and in a crazy way it’s been in a pattern of great-awful-great-awful. Last year’s was great. It’s a toss-up, though, with the coaching change at UAB offsetting the talent level a bit.

39. LendingTree Bowl

Rice vs Southern Miss

Saturday, December 17, 2022

5:45, ESPN

Hancock Whitney Stadium, Mobile, AL

Last Year: Liberty 56, Eastern Michigan 20

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 34, 2020: 23, 2019: 37

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 34, 2020: 23, 2019: 28

Okay, so Rice is here because it went to class – it was on top of the APR rankings so it was able to go bowling at 5-7. It’s going to be fired up to have an extra game, Southern Miss hasn’t been all that great over the last part of the season, and it should all combine for a hard-fought, tight bowl that should be more entertaining than it’ll get credit for.

38. Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl

Houston vs Louisiana  

Friday, December 23, 2022

3:00, ESPN

Independence Bowl, Shreveport, LA

Last Year: UAB 31, BYU 28

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 35, 2020: NA, 2019: 34

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 11, 2020: NA, 2019: 20

Houston will always play up or down to its competition, but it’ll bring the offense when it has to. There’s a problem, though – it might not have to crank up the attack against a Louisiana offense that hasn’t done much of anything against anyone good. This is a true focus bowl – it’s not going to be pretty if the Cougars care. However, it’s going to be a Ragin’ Cajun-friendly crowd.

37. Boca Raton Bowl

Toledo vs Liberty

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

7:30, ESPN

FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, FL

Last Year: WKU 59, Appalachian State 38

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 2, 2020: 5, 2019: 16

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 15, 2020: 20, 2019: 23

Toledo might have won the MAC Championship, but it’s been AWFUL in bowl games over the last four years. Liberty was AWFUL over the late part of the season before Hugh Freeze finally took the Auburn gig. The talent is there on both sides to make this fun, but the Boca Raton has been just okay lately.

36. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Eastern Michigan vs San Jose State

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

3:30 ESPN

Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID

Last Year: Wyoming 52, Kent State 38

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 13, 2020: 13, 2019: 31

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 14, 2020: 17, 2019: 31

It’s been a few years since we’ve had a good Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, but Eastern Michigan keeps every game close. It comes in on a bit of roll, and the chilly weather won’t be a problem. San Jose State is entertaining – QB Chevan Cordeiro is a baller who’s worth the watch.

35. Cricket Celebration Bowl

North Carolina Central vs Jackson State

Saturday, December 17, 2022

12:00, ABC

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA

Last Year: South Carolina State 31, Jackson State 10

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: , 2020: , 2019:

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: , 2020: , 2019

The man is still there. Deion Sanders has made Colorado the coolest school going, but he’ll still be around to finish the job at Jackson State. North Carolina Central can play and isn’t going to be a pushover, but after last year’s blowout Celebration Bowl loss, Coach Prime’s team should put on a show.

34. Wasabi Fenway Bowl

Louisville vs Cincinnati

Saturday, December 17, 2022

11:00 am, ESPN

Fenway Park, Boston, MA

Last Year: Canceled

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 41, 2020: NA, 2019: NA

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 36, 2020: NA, 2019: NA

Neither team has its head coach with Scott Satterfield leaving from Louisville to Cincinnati, both programs are in a bit of a holding pattern, and with both teams looking to show off who’s still around for next year. Even so, this should be an entertaining dead-even game with the Cardinal defense a fun watch if it’s taking the ball away.

33. Frisco Bowl

Boise State vs North Texas

Saturday, December 17, 2022

9:15, ESPN

Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX

Last Year: San Diego State 38, UTSA 24

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 37, 2020: NA, 2019: 32

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 22, 2020: NA, 2019: 8

Uh oh. North Texas fired head coach Seth Littrell even after getting to the Conference USA Championship. Boise State might be too good for this bowl, and if it brings the focus, it’s combination of running game and defense could make this ugly fast. Let’s put it this way – North Texas already played one Mountain West team and lost to UNLV 58-27.

– Deep Cuts (32-41) | It’s Football. You’ll Watch (25-32)

Bowls. Just Bowls (17-24) | Restaurant Quality (9-16)

Watch or Die (1-8) | Initial Thoughts, Picks on all 41

NEXT: Bowl Game Rankings: Bowls. Like You Have Anything Better To Do.

Bowl Game Rankings: It’s a football game. Watch it.

You can put off the new season of The Crown (really, it’s not great and loaded with historical inaccuracies), but go ahead and talk to your family if you must. However, if it’s between one of these bowls and some TV holiday specials involving song, you know what to do.

32. Myrtle Beach Bowl

UConn vs Marshall

Monday, December 19, 2022

2:30, ESPN

Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC

Last Year: Tulsa 30, Old Dominion 17

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 27, 2020: 16, 2019: NA

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 26, 2020: 25, 2019: NA

Who’s going to be happier to play in a bowl game against these two?  Marshall used to be a given, but it hasn’t won a bowl game since 2018. UConn hasn’t done anything in years but got here with a great ground game and tough defense over the second half of the season. It might not be the most scintillating matchup, but these two will try and push for a full four quarters.

31. Easyport Hawaii Bowl

San Diego State vs Middle Tennessee

Saturday, December 24, 2022

8:00, ESPN

Clarence TC Ching Complex, Honolulu, HI

Last Year: Canceled

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 40, 2020: NA, 2019: 36

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: T40, 2020: NA, 2019: 37

Watch a San Diego State game at your own peril. The offense perked up over the second half of the season after Jalen Mayden took over at quarterback, but the offense is still a tough watch. Middle Tennessee got hot late in the year, but it doesn’t have a win over anyone good. Between these two defenses it’s going to be close, even if it’s not always pretty.

30. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

South Alabama vs WKU

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

9:00, ESPN

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA

Last Year: Louisiana 36, Marshall 21

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 32, 2020: 22, 2019: 33

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 23, 2020: 25, 2019: 27

WKU lost QB Austin Reed to the transfer portal. All he did was throw for over 4,000 yards and 36 touchdowns, and now the Hilltoppers have to keep going against a good South Alabama team that was this close to beating UCLA and having an even bigger season. The New Orleans Bowl hasn’t been anything great, but at least these two should crank up the O.

29. TransPerfect Music City Bowl

Iowa vs Kentucky

Saturday, December 31, 2022

12:00, ESPN

Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN

Last Year: Purdue 48, Tennessee 45 OT

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 12, 2020: NA, 2019: 26

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 3, 2020: NA, 2019: 22

This needed to be on January 1st because it’s the all-time perfect hangover bowl. You’ll be able to nap in and out of the whole thing and not miss much. The point total is probably higher for the next Brazilian World Cup match than what this should be, but the final ten minutes of this slugfest will be gripping.

28. Quick Lane Bowl

Bowling Green vs New Mexico State

Monday, December 26, 2022

2:30, ESPN

Ford Field, Detroit, MI

Last Year: Western Michigan 52, Nevada 24

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 30, 2020: 28, 2019: 39

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 28, 2020: NA, 2019: 9

There might not be any two teams more fired up to be in a bowl. New Mexico State needed a special waiver from the NCAA to overcome a cancelled game against San Jose State to get bowl eligible with five wins, and then it drilled Valparaiso for a sixth win, just because. Bowling Green has finally turned a corner, but can the offense be better than it was over the second half of the season? Against the New Mexico State defense, yup. This should be a sneaky-good game.

27. TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl

East Carolina vs Coastal Carolina

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

6:45, ESPN

Protective Stadium, Birmingham, AL

Last Year: Houston 17, Auburn 13

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 22, 2020: NA, 2019: 23

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 8, 2020: NA, 2019: 40

Well this just got weird. Coastal Carolina’s defense decided to end the season early allowing 92 points over the final two games, head coach Jamey Chadwell is off to Liberty, and East Carolina is going to care. It might be a horrible mix unless the Chanticleer offense can get off to a hot start. If so, this will be a wild firefight.

26. Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

UCLA vs Pitt

Friday, December 30, 2022

2:00, CBS

Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, TX

Last Year: Central Michigan 24, Washington State 21

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 39, 2020: NA, 2019: 19

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 13, 2020: NA, 2019: 21

There’s no Kedon Slovis – he’s hanging out in the transfer portal – and Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec obviously isn’t going to be in the mix until next season. On the other side, UCLA might be missing most of its top skill guys if they opt-out early. Even so, it’ll be worth paying attention to for the first half while waiting for the Notre Dame-South Carolina Gator Bowl.

25. Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl

Ohio vs Wyoming

Friday, December 30, 2022

4:30, Barstool

Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ

Last Year: Canceled

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 17, 2020: 11, 2019: 38

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: T40, 2020: 26, 2019: 35

Okay, so this gets stuck rolling while other bowls are going, but it’s 2022. Go second screen on this, because it should be entertaining if you’re really, really into bowl games. It might not be all that high-scoring – the Ohio defense stepped it up late in the year and Wyoming likes to keep games tight – but these two might just crank up one of the best hipster underground games of the bowl season.

– Deep Cuts (32-41) | It’s Football. You’ll Watch (25-32)

Bowls. Just Bowls (17-24) | Restaurant Quality (9-16)

Watch or Die (1-8) | Initial Thoughts, Picks on all 41

NEXT: Bowl Game Rankings: Bowls. Just Bowls.

Bowl Game Rankings: Bowls. Just Bowls.

They’re bowl games. College football will be played, people might show up, they might not, no big whoop.

24. New Mexico Bowl


Saturday, December 17, 2022

2:15, ESPN

Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM

Last Year: Fresno State 31, UTEP 24

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 43, 2020: ,21 2019: 36

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 19, 2020: NA, 2019: 24

What do you want out of a bowl game? Fireworks. SMU is always hit-or-miss, and BYU has a way of going off when it gets into a groove, but this should be a back-and-forth game with lots and lots of big plays. It might be a slight disappointment of a season for BYU, but might mean it brings it that much more.

23. Pinstripe Bowl

Syracuse vs Minnesota

Thursday, December 29, 2022

2:00, ESPN

Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY

Last Year: Maryland 54, Virginia Tech 10

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 25, 2020: NA, 2019: 24

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 37, 2020: NA, 2019: 18

We know exactly how this is going to go. Minnesota shows up. It starts to run the ball. The defense keeps Syracuse from doing much. The offense runs the ball. Repeat. PJ Fleck and the Gophers win another low scoring game. Even so, there’s a methodical way the program does the bowl thing that’s entertaining in its own way.

22. SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

Memphis vs Utah State

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

3:15, ESPN

Gerald J. Ford Stadium, University Park, TX

Last Year: Air Force 31, Louisville 28

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 19, 2020: 27, 2019: 25

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 9, 2020: 5, 2019: 2

Expect fun. Utah State was one of the nice surprises of last year’s bowl season with its win over Oregon State, and this year it turned it around late to get the offense going to finish on a 5-2 kick. However, it didn’t exactly rip though a slew of killers. Memphis will set a fast pace, but the Aggies should be able to keep up.

21. AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Kansas vs Arkansas

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

5:30, ESPN

Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN

Last Year: Texas Tech 34, Mississippi State 7

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 4, 2020: 20, 2019: 6

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 31, 2020: 6, 2019: 7

Forgotten about in all the fun of Kansas turning the season around and getting to a bowl game is the 1-5 run to close out the season. The offense failed to overcome the problems on defense that were there from the start. If the Arkansas offense gets going early and the line starts paving the way for the ground game to take over … uh oh.

20. SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl

Florida vs Oregon State

Saturday, December 17, 2022

7:30, ABC

Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV

Last Year: Wisconsin 20, Arizona State 13

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 31, 2020: NA, 2019: 15

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 17, 2020: NA, 2019: 36

Anthony Richardson isn’t playing. That was it. The Florida QB was the reason to get fired up for this – and the reason for the prime Saturday night slot on ABC. Florida’s lack of steady defense should make this entertaining, but the Oregon State D might turn the lights out. If nothing else, it’s a chance for America to finally see this terrific Beaver team.

19. Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

USC vs Tulane

Monday, January 2, 2023

1:00, ESPN

AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX

Last Year: CFP Semifinal Alabama 27, Cincinnati 6

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 8, 2020: 3, 2019: 8

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 29, 2020: 22, 2019: 11

Hope for the best bowl, prepare for the worst bowl. As quickly as most of the talent came into the USC family under Lincoln Riley, it all might be out just as fast, at least on offense. The defense will still be there, and the American Athletic Conference champs should certainly be able to power though with its running style. Even so, if the USC offense can get going at all like normal – let’s just assume Caleb Williams isn’t able to go and most of the stars are out – it’ll still be worth the watch.

18. Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Wisconsin vs Oklahoma State

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

10:15, ESPN

Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ

Last Year: Minnesota 18, West Virginia 6

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 26, 2020: NA, 2019: 5

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 30, 2020: NA, 2019: 19

Wisconsin doesn’t exactly have a head coach, but Jim Leonard is still around until Luke Fickell gets up to speed. The O lost QB Graham Mertz to the transfer portal, and joining him is Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders – those two were being phased out late in the year anyway. Both teams had wildly disappointing years, but there’s enough talent around to make this one of the tighter bowls before the big ones kick in.

17. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Air Force vs Baylor

Thursday, December 22, 2022

7:30, ESPN

Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX

Last Year: Army 24, Missouri 22

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 28, 2020: 16, 2019: 32

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 4, 2020: 8, 2019: 32 

It’s asking a lot to match the fantastic 2021 version with Army coming through late to shock Missouri. Both teams will control the tempo and clock in their own way, but you have to like the Air Force style. These two are well-coached, they’ll be prepared, and it’ll be as intense as any of the pre-holiday bowls. Be angry if this isn’t a 60 minute battle.

16. Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Maryland vs NC State

Friday, December 30, 2022

12:00, ESPN

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC

Last Year: South Carolina 38, North Carolina 21

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 20, 2020: 24, 2019: 22

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 24, 2020: 9, 2019: 4

If you’re cool with a lunchtime bowl game without a lot of offense to ease your way into the day, here you go. Of course Maryland is high-powered, but let’s just guess it’ll be missing a few of its parts against a nasty NC State defense. There might not be the fireworks you want in a Terp game, but it should be close late.

– Deep Cuts (32-41) | It’s Football. You’ll Watch (25-32)

Bowls. Just Bowls (17-24) | Restaurant Quality (9-16)

Watch or Die (1-8) | Initial Thoughts, Picks on all 41

NEXT: Bowl Game Rankings: Restaurant Quality Bowls

Bowl Game Rankings: Restaurant Quality Bowls

Now we’re getting somewhere. A few of these bowls are going to be the best of the season, and at the very least, these should be solid matchups and the ones we’re all talking about.

16. Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl

Fresno State vs Washington State

Saturday, December 17, 2022

3:30, ABC

SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA

Last Year: Utah State 24, Oregon State 13

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 18, 2020: NA, 2019: NA

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 21, 2020: NA, 2019: NA

It can’t be worse than last year’s LA Bowl clunker, and it might turn into one of the best of the early bunch. The only concern here is the Washington State defense – it’s too good. It got rocked by Michael Penix Jr. and Washington, but it’s been able to keep most offenses under wraps. There’s a chance Jake Haener and Fresno State get the O going, and overall this should be a good, even battle.

15. TaxAct Texas Bowl

Texas Tech vs Ole Miss

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

9:00, ESPN

NRG Stadium, Houston, TX

Last Year: Kansas State 42, LSU 20

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 33, 2020: NA, 2019: 14

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 38, 2020: NA, 2019: 14

The Texas Bowl owes us. Last year’s Kansas State win over a shell of an LSU team might have been the poster game for how bowl games can go wrong in in the modern era, but there shouldn’t be too many problems here. Both offenses will push for 40, the good Texas Tech defense won’t be able to hang with the Rebel running game, and it’ll be well worth staying up late for.

14. Allstate Sugar Bowl

Alabama vs Kansas State

Saturday, December 31, 2022

12:00, ESPN

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA

Last Year: Baylor 21, Ole Miss 7

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 7, 2020: 2, 2019: 11

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 29, 2020: 10, 2019: 25

Absolutely no offense to Kansas State – this team always, always shows up strong in big moments – but this is about Alabama. Either 1) Alabama loses a bunch of players to opt-out/transfer, and the story is about this not being Alabama. That’s not fair to Kansas State, who, again, might be that good.

Or 2) Alabama gets enough back, puts it all together – really, for one of the first times this season – and tries to prove to the world it should’ve been playing Georgia in Atlanta as it comes up with an ugly beatdown. Or 3) neither one, Alabama just is okay, and social media melts down further trying to comprehend that this team wasn’t that great this year. Or 4) all of the above in some way.

No matter what it’s Alabama vs the Big 12 Champion. It’ll be one of the most talked about bowls of the season.

13. San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

Oregon vs North Carolina

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

8:00, FOX

Petco Park, San Diego, CA

Last Year: Canceled

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 6, 2020:NA , 2019: 7

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: T40, 2020: NA, 2019: 26

Offense, offense, offense. Oregon is cycling through players in the transfer portal, the defense has been a bit too hit or miss, and it’s going to be hard to pick it up after missing out on a chance to play in the Pac-12 Championship. Don’t worry, the points will be there against the Tar Heel D.

North Carolina will try to pull up out of the late season nosedive with three straight losses thanks to bit of an offensive power outage. The quarterbacks are playing – Drake Maye and Bo Nix will make this worth paying attention to.

12. Union Home Gasparilla Bowl

Missouri vs Wake Forest

Friday, December 23, 2022

6:30, ESPN

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL

Last Year: UCF 29, Florida 17

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 23, 2020: NA, 2019: 30

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 20, 2020: NA, 2019: 30

It’s impossible to not have fun with a Wake Forest game. Missouri will care after gacking away last year’s bowl game to Army, Wake Forest will care because it’s Wake Forest and it’ll put up 30 points on the board because that’s what it does. It’s one of the better early Power Five vs Power Five matchups as long as the good Mizzou defense doesn’t spoil the fun.

11. Military Bowl

Duke vs UCF

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

2:00, ESPN

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD

Last Year: Canceled

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 21, 2020: NA, 2019: 27

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021:T40 , 2020: NA, 2019: 33

It’s a strong enough matchup to finally revive a bowl game that’s back after being canceled over the last two seasons and was horrendous in 2019 – a North Carolina 55-13 win over Temple.

UCF has the talent, and no one loves to stick it to the Power Five more than this program. Duke, though, has been shockingly terrific and will hardly take this lightly. Both sides will score at least 30, there will be momentum swings, and it should be good until the final snap.

10. CFP Semifinal: Vrbo Fiesta Bowl

Michigan vs TCU

Saturday, December 31, 2022

4:00 ESPN

State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ

Last Year: Oklahoma State 37, Notre Dame 35

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 11, 2020: 14, 2019: 1

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 6, 2020: 15, 2019: 1

It’s this high only because it sort of has to be. It’s a playoff game. We can dream of greatness.

Of course we want the College Football Playoff semifinal undercard to be entertaining, but seven out of the eight were next-level awful. The Georgia-Oklahoma Rose Bowl in the 2017 season was a classic, but the other seven were decided by 17 points or more.

Maybe TCU is able to hold up in the second half against Michigan – almost no one else has. Maybe this game will break the trend. Maybe every affluent Michigan fan has a tripped booked to LA for a reason. Or maybe its TCU that pulls off the stunner. No matter what, the trend of this bowl slot isn’t kind.

9. Duluth Trading Cure Bowl

Troy vs UTSA

Friday, December 16, 2022

3:00, ESPN

Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL

Last Year: Coastal Carolina 47, Northern Illinois 41

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 14, 2020: 1, 2019: 28

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 5, 2020: 1, 2019: 24

It’s about as good a bowl matchup as we’re going to get. The opt-outs and transfers shouldn’t affect these two conference champions, they’re both on a tear offensively, and there’s no such thing as a boring UTSA game. QB Frank Harris is always worth the price of admission.

– Deep Cuts (32-41) | It’s Football. You’ll Watch (25-32)

Bowls. Just Bowls (17-24) | Restaurant Quality (9-16)

Watch or Die (1-8) | Initial Thoughts, Picks on all 41

NEXT: Bowl Game Rankings: Watch Or Die

Bowl Game Rankings: Watch Or Die

Your life will be a meaningless empty shell if you don’t consume every solitary second of these bowl games.

8. ReliaQuest Bowl

Illinois vs Mississippi State

Monday, January 2, 2023

12:00, ESPN2

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL

Last Year: Arkansas 24, Penn State 10

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 3, 2020: 8, 2019: 4

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 18, 2020: 11, 2019: 5

It’s one of those Prove It moments for both programs. Mississippi State was solid. It got to eight wins, it beat Ole Miss, and it survived in the toughest division in college football. But the high-powered offense is more about control than huge numbers.

That’s fine, because the Illinois defense should come out frothing at the mouth after a month to prepare for this thing. Points are going to be at a premium, but the defensive level on both sides will be high quality.

7. Cheez-It Bowl

Florida State vs Oklahoma

Thursday, December 29, 2022

5:30, ESPN

Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL

Last Year: Clemson 20, Iowa State 13

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 29, 2020: 6, 2019: 5

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 16, 2020: 4, 2019: 19

Oklahoma got its win over Oklahoma State, avoided the embarrassment of not going bowling, came really, really close in the three losses in the last four games – it dropped all of them by three points each. It’s a program that seems like it’s ready to get to next year already, but it’s got the offense to make this wild.

On the flip side, all of the great things FSU did over the second half of the year won’t be undone with a loss, but it wouldn’t be a good look considering Mike Norvell is 0-for-bowls in his six-year career before this season.

There should be lots of offense, lots of energy in the stadium, and lots of storylines going into 2023 no matter what.

6. Cheez-It Citrus Bowl

LSU vs Purdue

Monday, January 2, 2023

1:00, ABC

Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL

Last Year: Kentucky 20, Iowa 17

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 15, 2020: 19, 2019: 12

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 12, 2020: 14, 2019: 16

Everyone will be waiting for the Cotton and Rose to start rolling, but this might just be the best game of the day.

There’s no dogging the two teams that couldn’t hang with the College Football Playoff 1 and 2 in their respective conference championship games. The month off will do both of these teams a whole lot of good.

Purdue proved last year it could hang with the SEC types in a bowl – it beat Tennessee in a thriller – and LSU had a fantastic first year under Brian Kelly. Both are playing with house money considering their preseason expectations, and both will bring a high level of offensive play.

5. Valero Alamo Bowl

Texas vs Washington

Thursday, December 29, 2022

9:00, ESPN

Alamodome, San Antonio, TX

Last Year: Oklahoma 47, Oregon 32

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 38, 2020:17, 2019: 13

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 32, 2020: 18, 2019: 38

Michael Penix Jr. is returning for one more year. 2023 starts now, the Washington offense is going to put up a bazillion yards led by the nation’s leading passer, and Texas should be able to keep up through the air. Let’s just assume Bijan Robinson sits this one out. The Texas offense will still crank up the passing attack in a back-and-forth firefight that should push for a combined 80 points.

4. TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

Notre Dame vs South Carolina

Friday, December 30, 2022

3:30, ESPN

TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL

Last Year: Wake Forest 38, Rutgers 10

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 16, 2020: 15, 2019: 10

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 35, 2020: 12, 2019: 15

I know Notre Dame was thinking bigger this bowl season, but Utah beating USC screwed that up. It doesn’t matter. South Carolina will be plenty difficult to deal with. South Carolina turned into the proverbial “team no one wants to face” late in the season as it lit up Tennessee and – at least late – Clemson. Spencer Rattler is playing in the bowl game, the Irish should be close to full, GAME ON.

It might not be the most important bowl game around, but it might be as close to a regular season battle as it gets before the New Year’s Six.

3. Rose Bowl

Penn State vs Utah

Monday, January 2, 2023

5:00, ESPN

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA

Last Year: Ohio State 48, Utah 45

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 5, 2020: 9, 2019: 2

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 1, 2020: 24, 2019: 6

We’ve seen the top of the Rose Bowl mountain with the epic Ohio State-Utah game of last year. We all want more of that, but probably won’t get it. Even so, this is a huge moment for a Penn State team that should be loaded in 2023, and it’s even bigger for a Utah program on the wrong end of that firefight with the Buckeyes.

For those who believe Penn State never received its proper due this season – hand raised – with the only losses to Michigan and Ohio State, this is the shot to prove just how good it is. However, Utah has a way of humbling teams looking to prove how good they are.

2. Capital One Orange Bowl

Tennessee vs Clemson

Friday, December 30, 2022

8:00, ESPN

Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL

Last Year: CFP Semifinal Georgia 34, Michigan 11

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 1, 2020: 4, 2019: 18

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 33, 2020: 3, 2019: 12

It stops right here, right now. Yes, there’s going to be a LOT of orange in the Orange Bowl. We get it. We ALL get it. Clemson should wear its awesome purple uniforms, but I digress.

Welcome to the “but if we beat South Carolina …” bowl. This might not have been a College Football Playoff matchup if both were able to get by the Gamecocks, but there would be a whole lot of debating about it.

Clemson is going to have just about everyone around except for DJ Uiagalelei who’s off in the transfer portal, so call this the official start of the Cade Klubnik era in what should be a crazy show.

Both teams are going to trade body blows all game long. There will be lots and lots and lots of big plays, home runs, and energy to a bowl game everyone is going to like the most, but No. 1 has to be …

1. CFP Semifinal: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Georgia vs Ohio State

Saturday, December 31, 2022

8:00, ESPN

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA

Last Year: Michigan State 31, Pitt 21

Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 9, 2020: 7, 2019: 13

Post-Bowl Ranking: 2021: 7, 2020: 2, 2019: 3

I’m going to wish this bowl into being epic.

I’m under the belief that Ohio State – even with Jaxon Smith-Njigba not playing – will look and play like a different team than the banged up version at the end of the season. Georgia certainly doesn’t appear to be vulnerable, but it hasn’t played anyone with this overall level of talent – and Ohio State is the underdog.

It’s Georgia, it’s Ohio State, it’s New Year’s Eve in Atlanta. Let’s go.

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