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College Football

Scoring the Watchability of Every College Football Bowl Game

Dale Zanine-USA Today Sports

Friday, Dec. 16

Bahamas Bowl: Miami (Ohio) vs. UAB

This game used to be sponsored by Popeyes. Were Popeyes Chicken still the sponsor, it would get an inevitable boost. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case this year. The inaugural contest featured an insane hook-and-ladder finish and for some reason this game always seems a bit chaotic. While there is a high likelihood of a defensive struggle, I’m definitely watching the contest that kicks off bowl season.

Watchability Score: 3.5/5

Cure Bowl: No. 24 Troy vs. No. 25 UTSA

This game is just a fantastic contest between two elite Group of 5 squads looking to prove a point. I favor UTSA in this one but I’m not using hyperbole when I say that this contest is one of the matchups that I’ve been looking forward to most this bowl season.

Watchability Score: 5/5

Saturday, Dec. 17

Fenway Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Louisville

The Fenway Bowl has been cursed since it’s inception with both the 2020 and 2021 being canceled for COVID-related reasons. The 2022 version of the contest seems to be going forward and boy are there story lines here. Scott Satterfield has left Louisville to become the head coach of Cincinnati (though he won’t be coaching in this contest). This game is also a rivalry with the teams being pretty close in distance and formerly playing for a trophy called “the Keg of Nails”. Consider me sports entertained, though I do have to take a fraction of a point away for the bowl not being sponsored by wasabi, the condiment.

Watchability Score: 4.9/5

Las Vegas Bowl

No. 14 Oregon State vs. Florida

After getting off to a roaring start with a win over Utah, Florida floundered a bit down the stretch. They meet an Oregon State team that plays a very physical brand of football and is likely very motivated to be in Vegas after one of the better seasons in recent program history. Tuning in for some cathartic release after Florida beat my Aggies earlier this season.

Watchability Score: 4.2/5

LA Bowl: Washington State vs. Fresno State

Anytime a Group of 5 team has a chance to prove themselves against a Power 5 squad, it’s something worth tuning in for. The Bulldogs are a different team with Jake Haener under center and with the gifted QB suiting up for this contest – he should at least provide some motivation.

Watchability Score: 3.7/5

LendingTree Bowl: Rice vs. Southern Mississippi

As you all know, after kicking off my Tailgate Chronicles series at Rice, the Owls have a very special place in my heart. With that being said, both of these squads have been struggling to the finish line of this season. Likely to be some sloppy football down in Mobile and while I will personally be tuning in, I can’t advise you to do the same.

Watchability Score: 2.1/5

New Mexico Bowl: SMU vs. BYU

This one has all the making of the shootout. Look away if you are expecting good defense to be played. For those of you who love the overs – this will be your cup of tea as Tanner Mordecai slings it all over the field.

Watchability Score: 4.3/5

Frisco Bowl: Boise State vs. North Texas

This was a game that really intrigued me with Boise State closing the season strong and this not being too far from a home game for the Mean Green. It’s lost a little bit of it’s luster for me, however, with Seth Littrell being fired. I think Boise State rolls in a contest that isn’t particularly enthralling. Also, no real scenery to speak of in Frisco.

Watchability Score: 1.6/5

Monday, Dec. 19

Myrtle Beach Bowl: Marshall vs. UConn

This is lowkey one of the more fun defensive matchups for bowl week. Also great to see UConn bowling again after an exceedingly rough stretch for that program. I think Marshall wins but this has sleeper fun potential.

Watchability Score: 3.7/5

Tuesday, Dec. 20

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. San Jose State

Not the most scintilating matchup, this. I’ll tune in for the blue field and the french fry bath for the winning coach though.

Watchability Score: 3.1/5

Boca Raton Bowl: Liberty vs. Toledo

We don’t watch Liberty games in this household, sorry.

Watchability Score: 0/5

Wednesday, Dec. 21

New Orleans Bowl: South Alabama vs. Western Kentucky 

Very fun stylistic clash here and if you are a combat sports fan, you know styles make matchups. South Alabama is a defensive stalwart. Western Kentucky wants to sling the ball all over the place. I am very much looking forward to this one. 

Watchability Score: 4.3/5

Thursday, Dec. 22

Armed Forces Bowl: Baylor vs. Air Force

It was really a disappointing year for both of these squads. Baylor expected to return to the Big 12 Championship and Air Force was a dark horse Group of 5 flag bearer for a lot of people. This one could still be a fun but low-scoring battle and I love watching option teams.

Watchability Score: 3.6

Friday, Dec. 23

Independence Bowl: Houston vs. Louisiana

Something about Dana in Shreveport just feels right. Houston has been up and down and everywhere in between after being the preseason favorite to represent the Group of 5 in the New Year’s Six bowls. That obviously didn’t come to fruition but I do think they are up to the challege against a Ragin’ Cajuns squad that has also been wildly inconsistent in 2022. I think this one turns into a blow out that is not enjoyable.

Watchability Score: 1.9/5

Gasparilla Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Missouri

If Hartman plays for Wake, this will be fun. If not, there isn’t a lot about this contest that captivates me. Might tune in for the pirate ship though.

Watchability Score: 2.5/5 OR 3.8/5 if Hartman plays.

Saturday, Dec. 24

Hawai’i Bowl: Middle Tennessee State vs. San Diego State

Jake talked about it yesterday, but watching the Hawai’i Bowl on Christmas Eve is a tradition I love. I’d be settling down to watch this one no matter what and while MTSU and SDSU don’t really move the needle for me – it should be a fun contest and I’d encourage you to tune in.

Watchability Score: 3.7/5

Monday, Dec. 26

Quick Lane Bowl: Bowling Green vs. New Mexico State

I am extremely happy that New Mexico State are going to their first ever bowl game. I’m also happy for Coach Jerry Kill. I’m watching this one because of these facts but I actually think this one has some chaotic sleeper potential as well. I’m off Monday the 26th which just makes this one that much more watchable.

Watchability Score: 4/5

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Camellia Bowl: Buffalo vs. Georgia Southern

I just think the Sun Belt East is a much more powerful divsion than the MAC East. Georgia Southern under Clay Helton has been a bit up in down but I think the Eagles coast against Buffalo in a non-competive contest.

Watchability Score: 1.8/5

First Responder Bowl: Memphis vs. Utah State

Memphis rolls in this one in my personal opinion. Likely another non-entertaining blowout.

Watchability Score: 1.7/5

Birmingham Bowl: Coastal Carolina vs. East Carolina

I was really excited about this one until Grayson McCall announced he would be transferring. Thought that maybe there might be some lovely Carolina hostility. There may still be some of that but without McCall and head coach Jamey Chadwell, some of the excitement is gone.

Watchability Score: 1.2/5

Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Wisconsin

Rock fight! Rock fight! Rock fight! This one has all the makings of a classic the likes of which we haven’t seen since the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl. This one won’t be for everyone but consider it my Sickos pick of the bowl season. My watchability score is for me and me alone.

Watchability Score: 5/5

Wednesday, Dec. 28

Military Bowl: Duke vs. UCF

Actually a really compelling matchup between two fun teams. Also rooting for former Texas A&M Defensive Coordinator Mike Elko. I think this one could be a classic.

Watchability Score: 4.3/5

Liberty Bowl: Arkansas vs. Kansas

Kansas is bowling again. That is enough reason for me, what more do you want? Okay fine, KJ Jefferson and Arkansas are fun as well. Expect a shootout.

Watchability Score: 4.6/5

Holiday Bowl: No. 15 Oregon vs. North Carolina 

This will be extremely watchable for a half. After that I think Oregon makes adjustments and starts to pull away from the Tar Heels. A lot of points early for both teams that will slowly shift to a one sided win for the Ducks.

Watchability Score: 3.1/5

Texas Bowl: Texas Tech  vs. Ole Miss

Very chaotic matchup on paper. Expect a shootout in Houston and a lot of drunken fans from both sides here. Perfect bowl game experience in the Lone Star State – no comments.

Watchability Score: 4.7/5

Thursday, Dec. 29

Pinstripe Bowl: Minnesota vs. Syracuse

Low-scoring affair in the Empire State. Mo Ibrahim is a joy to watch. I think the Gophers control this one from start to finish though.

Watchability Score: 3.2/5

Cheez-It Bowl: No. 13 Florida State vs. Oklahoma

Florida State, in my opinion, was the best team in the ACC at the end of the year. They get an Oklahoma team that is extremely disappointed after a very tough 2022 that saw the Sooners finish at 6-6. I actually think the break will help the Sooners be a little bit more competitive and it could be a fun contest though I expect Florida State to come out on top.

Watchability Score: 4.1/5

Alamo Bowl: No. 12 Washington vs. No. 20 Texas -5.5

Very, very fun matchup down in San Antonio. A Washington team that bounced back from a dismal 2021 and a Texas squad that feels to be on the rise even with players like Bijan Robinson likely heading to the league. I think this one could be a banger.

Watchability Score: 4.7/5

Friday, Dec. 30

Duke’s Mayo Bowl: No. 23 NC State vs. Maryland

Even if this weren’t a fun matchup, I’d be encouraging each and every one of you to tune into the Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte. As it is, we get a fun stylistic clash between the defensive minded Wolfpack and a Maryland offense that can put up a lot of points when they are clicking. Add to that the fact that the winning coach is getting a mayo bath and this is simply must see television. Trust me, you’ll want to have your TV tuned into this one – you never know who might pop up.

Watchability Score: 1000/5

Sun Bowl: No. 18 UCLA vs. Pitt

I’m honestly expecting the Bruins to roll in this one as Pitt feels like they lost all of the magic they found with Kenny Pickett last year. With that being said – the Sun Bowl is one of the best venues in sport, tune in if only to witness that.

Watchability Score: 3.4/5

Gator Bowl: No. 19 South Carolina vs. No. 21 Notre Dame 

This game was a bit more fun before all of the transfers were announced but I still think this one could be a really fun matchup. Should be an interesting clash.

Watchability Score: 3.9/5

Arizona Bowl: Ohio vs. Wyoming

A lowkey matchup in the Arizona Bowl that really should get a little more attention but won’t. Wyoming wants to drag Ohio into a defensive affair. This is another one that I can’t say will appeal to everyone but it definitely appeals to me.

Watchability Score: 3.6/5

Orange Bowl: No. 6 Tennessee vs. No. 7 Clemson

I wish Tennessee had a healthy Hendon Hooker to really treat us to a fantastic contest but I still think we’ll get some great fun out of what shapes up to be one heck of a shootout. I have to deduct points from what would be a perfect matchup because of the injury to Hendon.

Watchability Score: 4.4/5

Saturday, Dec. 31

Music City Bowl: Iowa vs. Kentucky

The second coming of the matchup we didn’t know we needed. Kentucky and Iowa will be a low-scoring, plodding contest predicated by special teams and defense. IT is everything I want in a football game. You want your five-star shootouts and your instant offensive classics. Nah. Not me! Give me three yards and a cloud of dust. Corn fed offensive linemen and fullback. Give me Iowa and Kentucky – my personal five-star glory.

Watchability Score: 200/5 (THIS IS MY LIST)

Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 9 Kansas State

Something about this contest just screams to me frustrated Nick Saban screaming into his mic while Deuce Vaughn somehow weaves his way to a ridiculous touchdown. If the idea appeals to you as much as it does to me (no offense Coach Saban, you’ve just been too good for too long), you’ll want to tune in here.

Watchability Score: 4.8/5

Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU

I don’t really need to break this or the other semi-final down given the fact that we will all be tuning in to see who advance to the championship but I will anyways. TCU is a team that just finds ways to win in close contests. Michigan has been the best looking team this side of Georgia. I have a feeling the Horned Frogs are going to surprise some people though.

Watchability Score: 5/5

Peach Bowl: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State

I’m probably going to regret writing off the Buckeyes but I just don’t think they have anything from Georgia here. I’m still very much looking forward to this matchup but I don’t think it’ll be the contest that the other semifinal will be.

Watchability Score: 4.5/5

Monday, Jan. 2

ReliaQuest Bowl: No. 22 Mississippi State vs. Illinois

Still just kind of in shock that Mike Leach is no longer with us. He was one of the all-time great college football characters and this world is emptier for not having him in it. I do think this contest could be a fun one but it’s a bit tough to think about anything besides Coach Leach at this stage.

Watchability Score: 3.9/5

Citrus Bowl: No. 17 LSU vs. Purdue

Charlie Jones and Aidan O’Connell are opting out of the Citrus Bowl. Unfortunately I think that one pretty much kills the intrigue this one held for me. LSU should make this one a blowout.

Watchability Score: 2.3/5

Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 10 USC vs. No. 16 Tulane

The Tulane Green Wave have defied the odds and made it to the New Year’s 6 level in a matchup that I actually think is pretty winnable against a USC team that has a fair share of flaws on the defensive side of the ball. This one will be a shootout in Arlington.

Watchability Score: 4.9/5

Rose Bowl Game: No. 8 Utah vs. No. 11 Penn State

A very physical contest looms when these two teams head to Pasadena to play in one of the most historic venues in the sport. I think it’s going to be a hard-hitting contest out West and I’m expecting it to be a lot of fun. Consider this can’t miss.

Watchability Score: 4.6/5

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