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KSR’s Complete and Ridiculous Bowl Guide: Part I

(Photo: © Chris Graythen | Getty Images)

(Photo: © Chris Graythen | Getty Images)

The early signing day has come and gone with plenty of programs believing that they have really improved their rosters. After a week of cramming and breaking down high school tape and recruiting profiles, it’s now time to get back to some real college football. The postseason has finally arrived.

Starting on Friday afternoon, bowl season begins when Buffalo and Charlotte meet in the middle of the day in the Bahamas and it will end when the winner of LSU/Oklahoma and Ohio State/Clemson meet in New Orleans on January 13th. Not counting that national championship game, there will be 41 bowl games with 82 of the 130 FBS teams involved. That comes out to 63.1 percent for all you math majors. These are games that are mostly made for television and it’s time to enjoy the odd matchups in random stadiums throughout the holiday season.

To help you digest this big slate, here is everything you need to know about the bowl season. There are plenty of exciting matchups that should be aware of. Knowing about these odd football games can give you some good icebreakers at the random Christmas or New Year’s party you may find yourself at over the next couple of weeks. Or you just may not be ready for college football season to end. I feel your pain.

The Kickoff

Beginning this weekend, there will be eight bowl games played with two on Friday and six on Saturday. The Bahamas Bowl gets us rolling at 2:00 on Friday and weather is looking great in Paradise.

The under of 52 may have to be a play. In the sixth ever meeting of the Bahamas Bowl, it’s be the Bulls from Buffalo and the 49ers from Charlotte facing off. Charlotte will be making their first ever bowl appearance and they might have the greatest locker room celebration going in the sport right now.

Later that day, Kent State and Utah State will meet in the Frisco Bowl with the Golden Flashes from the MAC making the postseason for just the third time since 1972. They also like to party in the locker room under second-year head coach and Dino Babers protege Sean Lewis. The Wisconsin alum has an outstanding beard.

Then we move to Saturday where there will be six games played and that is more than you will see on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s. Remember this guy? His team we’ll start the action in Albuquerque at the New Mexico Bowl.

In his first season in the MAC, Jim McElwain led Central Michigan to eight wins and a division title a year after the Chips went 1-11. He’ll be facing off against a San Diego State squad who has won 80 games in nine seasons under Rocky Long with three Mountain West titles. The total of 41 is the smallest of the bowl season.

Did you know Hugh Freeeze coached in a hospital bed to start the 2019 season?

Despite all of that oddness, the former Ole Miss head coach led the Liberty Flames to their first bowl game and a 7-5 record despite losing to Rutgers as a touchdown and a hook favorite. In Orlando at the Cure Bowl, they will be facing a 7-5 Georgia Southern squad who knocked App State out of the New Year’s Six and uses one of the best formations I have seen all season.

Down in Boca Raton at FAU Stadium, Florida Atlantic will be playing a home game despite Lane Kiffin moving on to Ole Miss and Willie Taggart waiting to take over. They will be meeting an SMU team that went 10-2 and spent some parts of this season in the top 25. With a total of 70.5, this one has a chance to be one of the most exciting games of the bowl slate.

At the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Butch Davis is taking FIU to their third consecutive bowl game and they will meet an Arkansas State team who has one of the best wide receivers in the country. Omar Bayless put up ridiculous numbers this season (84 receptions, 1,473 yards, 17.54 yards per catch, 16 touchdowns) and he might be the best contested catch guy in college football.

In the final Las Vegas Bowl before the SEC gets involved, Chris Petersen will be coaching his final game at Washington against the program he turned into a powerhouse. Boise State is 12-1 this season and is 64-16 since alum Bryan Harsin took over the program. This will be a high quality game between two of the best 20 programs in the sport.

In the nightcap, the Superdome will host the New Orleans Bowl with UAB and App State meeting for an 8:00 pm eastern time kick. The Mountaineers will be playing without coach Eli Drinkwitz who is now at Missouri, but are huge favorites (16.5) against Bill Clark’s UAB squad. In a similar spot last year, App absolutely crushed C-USA runner-up Middle Tennessee in this game.

Christmas Week

Monday at the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (yes, that is a real sponsor), Marshall will be making a trip to Tampa for the second season in a row where they will be playing perennial national title contender UCF. The Knights could be without two very important skill players (wide receiver Gabriel Davis and running back Adrian Killins) so the Herd could be a live dog at 17.5. The Gasparilla might have the best bowl logo in the game.

On Christmas Eve, you’re home at night either enjoying some fine bourbon or putting together a playhouse or bike for you little ones. Therefore, you need something to watch to give you a break from all of those Christmas movies. Well, the Hawaii Bowl is always there for you. Nick Rolovich’s Rainbow Warriors will be playing a home game at Aloha Stadium against BYU in a battle of offensive identity against the defense first Cougars. Have a feeling this one could get weird.

On a one day break, things pickup on December 26th when Miami heads to Shreveport to take on Louisiana Tech in a pseudo home game. Tech’s campus is just an hour away from the Independence Bowl and they should have plenty of fan support there. Miami has multiple players skipping the game and the “do they want be there” issues are very much in play. Does talent or want to win out in an afternoon kick on Thursday the day after Christmas?

Up in Detroit, the artist formerly known as the Motor City Bowl now called the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field. The city has hosted this game since 1997 and this year they’ll have some MAC flavor.

Eastern Michigan is making just their fifth ever bowl trip and three of those have occurred under Chris Creighton since 2016. Doing that at EMU is a big time accomplishment and here they will meet Pittsburgh who almost always plays in a weird bowl. The Panthers are 11-point favorites but the Eagles are playing very close to home and will have strong motivation looking to give Creighton his first bowl win. Trust me when I say this one is going to be fun to watch.

Hopefully this is enough to wet your beaker before most of the big boys begin play on December 27th and run all the way through January 2nd. We’ll be back later for that, but first its time to some enjoy random bowl games in pro stadiums playing against strange non-conference opponents with absurd sponsors shoving commercials down our throats for three-plus hours.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Article written by Adam Luckett

Twitter: @AdamLuckettKSR