I’ll be honest: I’ve had a hard time getting into bowl season this year. Maybe it’s because of my recent move (as chronicled on the most recent episode of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast). Maybe it’s because I’m too invested in real, meaningful college hoops to pay attention to meaningless exhibition football. Or maybe we’ve reached the point where we really do have too many games and are all just waiting for the playoff to kick-off on New Year’s Day.
Either way, it’s been a slow transition back into college football for me this winter, and I really do need a kick in the behind. And since I can’t afford one of those fancy, new-age life coaches (or even a cheap, overweight trainer at the gym) I’ve got to inspire myself — which is what I did with the article below, by giving everyone (including myself) one reason to watch every bowl game this holiday season.
Now admittedly, most of the “reasons” aren’t actual “reasons” but instead just general, half-baked feelings on each individual game. But still, roll with me here.
I’ve got some thoughts on the remaining 32 bowl games, starting with the…
Bad Boy Mowers Gaspirilla Bowl: Temple vs. Florida International
Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because if you can’t get excited about a bowl that’s sponsored by “Bad Boy Mowers” than you probably don’t have a soul (you’re also probably one of those people who hates puppies, fireworks and those videos where tearful walk-ons receive college football scholarships too). Also, this is a sneaky fun matchup between one of the best program builders in college football history (anyone remember what Butch Davis did at Miami?) against, wait, who coaches Temple again?
Bahamas Bowl: UAB vs. Ohio
Friday, 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because it’s the Bahamas! In December! And I wonder how many players and coaches are going to fake injuries, illness or possibly their own deaths to head to the beach rather than the stadium for this one.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Wyoming
Friday, 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen is a legitimate first round NFL Draft prospect. He also completed just 56 percent of his passes this season and threw just 13 touchdowns. Meaning it’s almost certain that the Browns will draft him this spring over Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, then watch him set the franchise back another 10 years. Come on, we all know it’s happening.
Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs. South Florida
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because there’s a 97.8 percent chance that you’ll be watching this game, Kliff Kingsbury’s face will flash across the TV screen and your wife will shout from across the room, “Oh, boy, who is that?”
Ah yes, our significant others swooning over Kliff Kingsbury during bowl season. It truly is a Christmas tradition like no other.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State vs. Army
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because seeing Army in a bowl game is just awesome. You know what else is awesome? San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, the only 2,000 yard rusher in college football.
There are no jokes to make here. This one should be fun.
Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs. Houston
Sunday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because it’s Christmas Eve, and what else are you going to do? Go to church? Sing Christmas carols? Spend time with your family? Man, that sounds awful. Instead, bet the over, grab some eggnog and ignore the family. You won’t regret it.
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah vs. West Virginia
Tuesday, Dec. 26, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Here’s a crazy fact for you: Did you know that Utah’s Kyle Whittingham has the highest bowl win percentage of any coach in college football history who has coached at least 10 bowl games (91 percent)? I bet you didn’t. That also leads to my favorite joke every bowl season, when I go around touting Whittingham as “The greatest postseason coach in college football history.”
He isn’t really, but at the same time, he kind of is. And when you say it, it drives people bonkers.
Quick Lane Bowl: Duke vs. Northern Illinois
Tuesday, Dec. 26, 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because let’s be honest: Is there ever a bad time to root against Duke?
(Emoji face with hand on chin…)
Nope, there’s never a bad time to root against Duke.
Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs. UCLA
Tuesday, Dec. 26, 9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because this will be our last chance to see Josh Rosen in a college football uniform, and… wait a second? Has any college football player gotten more hype, with fewer memorable moments than Rosen?
Seriously, outside that Texas A&M comeback, what was your favorite moment of the Josh Rosen era?
Well, there was that time he….
Or, definitely that one game where he did that thing where…
Oh, how about….
You know what, maybe we should just move on.
Independence Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Florida State
Wednesday, Dec. 27, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because no matter how bad things were for you in 2017, at least you won’t be spending your holiday season in Shreveport.
Well, unless you are actually spending your holiday season in Shreveport.
In which case, all I can say is this: 2018 will be better for you. I promise.
Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa vs. Boston College
Wednesday, Dec. 27, 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because, if you like lots of third and longs and big booming punts, this game is for you!
And because there isn’t a safer bet all college football season than “the under” in this one.
Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona vs. Purdue
Wednesday, Dec. 27, 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Why You Should Watch: Because this one should be a wild shootout between the best player in college football no one knows much about (Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate) and the best rising coach in the sport (Jeff Brohm). And because after watching that Iowa-Boston College snooze-fest for the previous few hours, this game will be like sticking an IV of Red Bull right into your arm.
Seriously, anyone over 60 should consult with a doctor before watching this game.
Texas Bowl: Texas vs. Missouri
Wednesday, Dec. 27, 9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: I’ll be honest: This is one of those games that feels like it could really good on paper, but a total dud once it kicks off.
But hey, it’s the week after Christmas and you took a bunch of time off from work. What do you have to do that’s better to do than staying up until 1 a.m. ET watching a bowl game you don’t really care about?
The answer is nothing. And it’s fantastic.
Military Bowl: Virginia vs. Navy
Thursday, Dec. 28, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because the next time some snarky college football reporter tells you “There’s no such thing as too many bowl games” you can point to this one and say “Well? Go ahead and explain yourself. I’ll wait”
Otherwise, that’s all I’ve really got.
Camping World Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Virginia Tech
Thursday, Dec. 28, 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because it’s the first bowl matchup between a pair of ranked teams, and should honestly just be a really, really fun entertaining game.
And if good, solid, awesome football doesn’t do it for you, well, have you seen Mike Gundy’s mullet? That thing is awesome!
Alamo Bowl: Stanford vs. TCU
Thursday, Dec. 28, 9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because again, this is just an awesome game, between two teams that — under slightly different circumstances — could’ve actually made the College Football Playoff.
Also, does any grown man look more fashionable in a hoodless sweatshirt than David Shaw? The answer is no.
Holiday Bowl: Washington State vs. Michigan State
Thursday, Dec. 28, 9:00 p.m. ET, FS1
Why You Should Watch: Because while Michigan State will be a bore (like they always are) we also know that win or lose, Mike Leach’s postgame press conference will be the single most entertaining thing you see all holiday season.
And isn’t that something we can all be grateful for this Christmas?
Belk Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M
Friday, Dec. 29, 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because Wake Forest might literally be the most non-descript program in all of college football. I watch 14 hours of college football every Saturday, and can’t remember a single thing they did all season. Considering that basically every single college football game in America gets broadcast in some form or fashion on television, that’s actually kind of an incredible feat.
To quote Ron Burgundy, “I’m not even mad. That’s kind of impressive.”
Sun Bowl: NC State vs. Arizona State
Friday, Dec. 29, 3:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Why You Should Watch: Because this game is on directly after the Louisville-Kentucky basketball game, and your TV will already be turned to CBS.
And a few days into your Christmas vacation, let’s be honest: Doesn’t getting up to find the remote sound like an awful lot of work?
Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs. Northwestern
Friday, Dec. 29, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Duh!
Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State vs. Utah State
Friday, Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Why You Should Watch: Because this will be New Mexico State’s first bowl game since… wait for it… wait for it… 1960!
Once again, there’s no joke to make here. This is just an awesome story. We’ll all be New Mexico State Aggies’ fans come December 29th.
Cotton Bowl: USC vs. Ohio State
Friday, Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because this is a fun, old-school matchup between traditional powers, that — with a few difference bounces and breaks — could have been a playoff matchup, rather than one in the Cotton Bowl.
Also, because according to Dabo Swinney this may very well be the last game Urban Meyer coaches at Ohio State.
Talk about negative recruiting!
TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville vs. Mississippi State
Saturday, Dec. 30, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because this will almost certainly be the last time we see Lamar Jackson in a Louisville uniform, and love or hate the guy (and I think I know where most people reading this lean) it’ll be a long time before we see another college football player quite like him. And because with a month to prepare, against a Mississippi State club that might not be inspired after losing their head coach, well, Jackson might give us a performance we don’t soon forget.
Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs. Memphis
Saturday, Dec. 30, 12:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Why You Should Watch: Because Iowa State has a quarterback who also occasionally subs in at linebacker (no, seriously). And because Memphis has a quarterback who doesn’t play linebacker but did finish Top 5 nationally in both passing yards and touchdowns.
I have no idea if this will be a good game. But damn will it be interesting.
Fiesta Bowl: Washington vs. Penn State
Saturday, Dec. 30, 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because I honestly believe that Penn State might have been the best team in the Big Ten (had they not blown a late lead against Ohio State they’d be in the playoff) and Washington just might have been the best team in the Pac-12.
Seriously, you don’t need me to give you a fake reason to be excited about this game. It will be awesome. Enjoy it.
Orange Bowl: Miami vs. Wisconsin
Saturday, Dec. 30, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because the number of slightly-overweight, super-pale white Wisconsin fans strutting down South Beach all week long, should make for a really umm, interesting scene in the lead up to this game. Oh, and once the game kicks off it should be a damn good matchup as well.
Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina
Monday, Jan. 1, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Why You Should Watch: Because with Will Muschamp and Jim Harbaugh prowling the sidelines there’s a 100 percent chance that at least one coach pops a blood vessel in his head before this game is over. There’s also at least a 75 percent chance that one strangles one of his assistant coaches on the sidelines. There’s also a chance that neither team scores an offensive touchdown.
Come for the anger, and stay for the anger. Just don’t expect much excitement.
Peach Bowl: Central Florida vs. Auburn
Monday, Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because there isn’t a cooler story this bowl season (outside of New Mexico State) than Scott Frost insisting that he coach Central Florida in this bowl game, even after accepting the Nebraska job. In essence, his argument was “we started this journey together, let’s finish it together.” There are a lot of negative stories around college athletics, but this is honestly one of the good ones.
Citrus Bowl: Notre Dame vs. LSU
Monday, Jan. 1, 1:00 p.m. ET, ABC
Why You Should Watch: Because it’s Rockin’ New Year’s Day with Coach O! And much like spending time with your 96-year-old grandma, none of us should ever take our time with Ed Orgeron for granted. Oh, and because LSU was quietly one of the hottest teams in college football over the last two months, going 6-1 since late September with their only loss at Alabama.
Seriously, the Tigers are good. And damn entertaining with Coach O on the sideline.
Rose Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Georgia
Monday, Jan. 1, 5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: It’s the playoff, the moment we’ve been waiting for and we no longer have to fake interest in this one!
And because can you imagine what would happen if Baker Mayfield grabbed his crotch after his first touchdown pass? The internet might cease to exist as we know it.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Clemson
Monday, Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Why You Should Watch: Because it’s Bama vs. Clemson Part III!
And whoever wins this game will set up a helluva matchup for the national championship.