Bowl Season is upon us and that means tons of great gridiron matchups. Here is the best matchup in each tier.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Central Michigan (8-4) vs Wyoming (7-5)
Friday, December 22 at 4pm ET
This battle on the blue turf pits the Chippewas of the MAC against the Cowboys of the Mountain West. Wyoming’s defense gives up about 45 yards more than they gain on average but they are NUMBER 2 in the COUNTRY in takeaways with 30.
Who’s number 1 you ask? That would be Central Michigan with 31. However, Wyoming is number 1 in the country in turnover margin at +16. Bottom line: Look for a key turnover to be the difference in this one.
Wyoming, despite all the hype around their QB Josh Allen, is not the most explosive offense in the world. In fact, they are ranked 125th out of 129 FBS teams in total offense and average just 22.3 points per game. However, they rank 21st in total defense and 15th in fewest penalty yards per game.
And, if it means anything at all, this team has experience playing on the blue turf of Boise this year when they lost 24-14 to the Broncos. If you like close, low-scoring games, this tussle in chilly Boise is for you.
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah (6-6) vs West Virginia (7-5)
Tuesday, December 26 at 1:30pm ET
This confrontation takes place at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. It matches the Utes of the Pac-12 with the Mountaineers of the Big 12. ESPN’s Football Power Index currently gives Utah a 50.8% chance to win.
If you like offense, you better tune into this one because Utah is averaging 29.5 points per game and West Virginia is averaging 36.3. The Mountaineers are a typical Big 12 team. They rank 16th in the nation in total offense and 110th in the nation in total defense.
However, a key injury to WVU’s star QB may affect their ability to light up the scoreboard. QB Will Grier suffered a broken finger on his throwing hand when he dove for the pylon in the Mountaineers 28-14 loss to Texas a few weeks ago. His status for the bowl game is uncertain.
Redshirt Sophomore QB Chris Chugunov started in WVU’s 59-31 loss to Oklahoma on 11/25, going 10-20 for 137 yards. As for Utah, they’ve been on the short end of some close contests with quality Pac-12 opponents, having lost to Stanford, USC, and Washington by a combined 7 points. Even if Grier is a go, give Utah the slight edge in a high-scoring affair.
Valero Alamo Bowl: Stanford (9-4) vs TCU (10-3)
Thursday, December 28 at 9pm ET
This skirmish in San Antonio pits David Shaw’s Cardinal of the Pac-12 against Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs of the Big 12. Both coaches know how to prepare for the postseason as Shaw is 4-2 in bowl games while at the helm for Stanford and Patterson is 9-6.
TCU has another strong defense this year, ranking 19th nationally and tops in the Big 12 in total yards allowed. They will have to work hard to stop Stanford’s sophomore QB K.J. Costello who has thrown for 6 touchdowns and zero interceptions over his last two games against USC and Notre Dame.
That ability to take care of the football has contributed to Stanford being +15 in turnover margin this year. Keep your eye on the trenches in this game as TCU ranks 9th nationally in sacks per game while Stanford ranks 15th in fewest sacks allowed. Don’t be surprised if this game comes down to the last possession or even goes into overtime.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: USC (11-2) vs Ohio State (11-2)
Friday, December 29 at 8:30pm ET
Nothing says college football like USC and Ohio State meeting in the Rose, er, Cotton Bowl. It’s the battle of the left out conference champions as the Trojans of the Pac-12 and the Buckeyes of the B1G meet in Arlington.
It will be interesting to see how Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett will fare in his last game in the scarlet and grey. He did not look sharp in the B1G Championship Game against Wisconsin and missed multiple wide open receivers.
On the other side is one of the most talked about players in the country, Trojan QB Sam Darnold. He comes into this game with 31 total touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
These are both high-quality teams and this contest could very well come down to the wire. Watch out for a key turnover or costly penalty in the fourth quarter as both USC and Ohio State rank in the top 11 nationally in penalties.
Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual: Georgia (12-1) vs Oklahoma (12-1)
Monday, January 1 at 5pm ET
The granddaddy of them all…The Rose Bowl. Both these squads come to Pasadena with swagger as they won their conference championship games handily.
The Bulldogs defense has shut opponents down all year long as they are ranked 4th in the nation in total defense. Meanwhile, the Baker Mayfield-led Sooners went up and down the field with ease and they come into this game with the country’s top-ranked offense.
Georgia has two very good senior running backs in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Not to mention D’Andre Swift, the freshman who has runs of 71 and 64 yards this year. The Bulldogs rushing attack is an offense unlike any that Oklahoma has faced this year in the Big 12.
All signs point to this being a great game. Baker Mayfield. Rose Bowl. College Football Playoff. You’re gonna wanna watch.
NFL Prospects to Watch
Sutton is a 6’4” wide receiver that catches jump balls near the goal line with his size and has the speed and elusiveness to take a tunnel screen to the house. He is sure to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Watch him against Louisiana Tech in the DXL Frisco Bowl on December 20th at 8pm ET.
Quenton Nelson-G-Notre Dame
If you like watching the trenches, take a look at Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson in the Citrus Bowl presented by Overton’s on January 1 at 1pm ET. This guy makes such a difference for the Irish offense that the program named him the team MVP. Former Notre Dame guard Zack Martin has had great success in the NFL with the Cowboys, but Nelson could be even better.
Bradley Chubb-DE-NC State
Edge rushers are always highly coveted draft prospects and NC State has a good one this year. Chubb passed Mario Williams for the all-time Wolfpack sack record with 26 career sacks. He is a grinder that has played every game since his sophomore year and plays nearly all of the snaps. Watch for him and his high motor play in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on December 29th at 3pm ET.
Rosen’s status for the Cactus Bowl on December 26th at 9pm ET is uncertain due to a laundry list of injuries he’s dealt with this year. If he does play, tune in for his incredible pocket presence and his ability to make every kind of throw. If he decides to enter the draft, he’s sure to be a top-5 pick.
Saquon Barkley-RB-Penn State
Barkley can do it all as a running back. He can play all three downs because of his power, speed, catching ability, and pass-blocking prowess. Every NFL team is going to want this guy. Tune in to watch him face a fellow first-round talent, Washington’s run-stuffing defensive tackle Vita Vea in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl on December 30th at 4pm ET.
Best Bowl Game Trophies
Unfortunately, the crystal football died with the BCS. The Belk Bowl kinda has one, but it doesn’t really carry the same weight, does it? Alas, here are the next best bowl trophies…
This trophy is awesome because it is exactly what the name of the bowl game is and it incorporates food. I do wonder, though, what happens when it’s stored in the winning school’s trophy case? Does someone change the oranges out after a while? Do they let them rot? Do they present it without oranges? Same goes for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, which basically copied the Orange Bowl by having a clear glass bowl of potatoes as the trophy.
New Mexico Bowl
The trophy for the New Mexico Bowl is a piece of handcrafted Native American pottery. It is carefully made each year by Marcellus and Elizabeth Media of the Zia Pueblo.
It’s a football with pineapple stems on it. Gotta love it. The real prize is getting to go to Hawaii, though, isn’t it?
This is one of the newer bowl games, having started in 2015. The first trophy was a piece of hand-blown glass. It was different last year but still very cool. Will they bring out another new one this year?
Ah, they all want to be the Rose Bowl trophy but none of them are. Classy, timeless, great trophy.