College Football bowl game guide: 40 reasons to watch all 40 games

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Notre Dame team runs onto the field before the Stanford game.
| Tony Avelar/AP

Here’s a rundown of each college football bowl game and why you should watch all 40 of them.

The locals

Dec. 26: Quick Lane Bowl


Northern Illinois (8-4) vs. Duke (6-6), 4:15 p.m., ESPN

Dec. 29: Music City Bowl

Nashville, Tenn.

Kentucky (7-5) vs. Northwestern (9-3), 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Jan. 1: Citrus Bowl

Orlando, Fla.

Notre Dame (9-3) vs. LSU (9-3), noon, Ch. 7

Full schedule of bowl games

Saturday, Dec. 16

Celebration Bowl

At Atlanta

NC A&T (11-0) vs. Grambling State (11-1), 11 a.m., Ch. 7

Why watch? Last year, fans who watched the Celebration Bowl between MEAC and SWAC champions discovered FCS star Tarik Cohen, who is now ripping it up with the Bears. Allow us to introduce you to Grambling quarterback Devante Kincade. Enjoy!

New Orleans Bowl

North Texas (9-4) vs. Troy (10-2), noon, ESPN

Why watch? One of three Conference USA-Sun Belt matchups on the first day of bowl season. By the end you might have finally figured out which teams are in Conference USA and which teams are in the Sun Belt. There will be a quiz.

Cure Bowl

Orlando, Fla.

Georgia State (6-5) vs. Western Kentucky (6-6), 1:30 p.m., CBSSN

Why watch? Sun Belt-C-USA matchup No. 2 features a quarterback in WKU’s Mike White who is on the NFL’s radar.

Las Vegas Bowl

Boise State (10-3) vs. Oregon (7-5), 2:30 p.m., Ch. 7

Why watch? Sun Belt-C-USA matchup No. 2 features a quarterback in WKU’s Mike White who is on the NFL’s radar.

New Mexico Bowl


Colorado State (7-5) vs. Marshall (7-5), 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? You can learn how to spell Albuquerque, the only word in the English language that repeats the letter sequence que — which is why you have such a hard time spelling Albuquerque, by the way. Herd and Rams — much easier.

Camellia Bowl

Montgomery, Ala.

Arkansas State (7-3) vs. Middle Tennessee (6-6), 7 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? It is this or an NFL game between the Chiefs and Chargers on Saturday night. The winner of the Camellia Bowl gets a trophy and the players will celebrate as if it is the last meaningful game they will ever play because for many it will be. The winner of Chiefs-Chargers might get to host a playoff game or something.

Tuesday, Dec. 19

Boca Raton (Fla.) Bowl

Akron (7-6) vs. FAU (10-3), 6 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Two words. Lane. Train. Lane Kiffin’s FAU team has won nine straight.

Wednesday, Dec. 20

Frisco (Texas) Bowl

Louisiana Tech (6-6) vs. SMU (7-5), 7 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? New SMU coach Sonny Dykes will coach this game after a week on the job. Will he even have a card key yet?

Thursday, Dec. 21

Gasparilla Bowl

At St. Petersburg, Fla.

Temple (6-6) vs. FIU (8-4), 7 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Official title sponsor: Gasparilla Bad Boy Mowers. Finally, lawn care gets a bowl to replace the Poulan Weed-eater Independence

Friday, Dec. 22

Bahamas Bowl


Ohio (8-4) vs. UAB (8-4), 11:30 a.m., ESPN

Why watch? One of the best stories of the season comes to a conclusion as UAB, after a two-year program hiatus, goes for the first bowl victory in school history.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl


Central Michigan (7-5) vs. Wyoming (7-5), 3 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Draftnik? Three hours of assessing Cowboys QB Josh Allen’s draft stock — whether he plays or not — should hold you over until the Senior Bowl.

Saturday, Dec. 23

Birmingham (Ala.) Bowl

South Florida (9-2) vs. Texas Tech (6-6), 11 a.m., ESPN

Why watch? Last college game for USF QB Quinton Flowers, who has been one of college football’s most exciting players for the last three years.

Armed Forces Bowl

Fort Worth, Texas

San Diego State (10-2) vs. Army (8-3), 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Army had four games in which it did not complete a pass. San Diego State has 2,000-yard rusher and All-American Rashaad Penny. After watching what figures to be a 4 ?-hour scorefest between USF and Texas Tech, this game could be done in under three hours.

Dollar General Bowl

Mobile, Ala.

Appalachian State (8-4) vs. Toledo (11-2), 6 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Toledo’s Jason Candle is the coach you will want your favorite Power Five school to hire next season.

Sunday, Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl


Fresno State (9-4) vs. Houston (7-4), 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? After laboring through putting together that dollhouse on Christmas Eve, you can watch offensive linemen struggling to block Houston star defensive tackle Ed Oliver and not feel so bad. At least you had instructions.

Tuesday, Dec. 26

Heart of Dallas Bowl

West Virginia (7-5) vs. Utah (6-6), 12:30 p.m., ESPN

Why watch?You just went a whole day without watching a bowl game.

Quick Lane Bowl


Northern Illinois (8-4) vs. Duke (6-6), 4:15 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? NIU took a running back, turned him into a defensive end and Sutton Smith ended up leading the nation in tackles for loss for 28.5.

Cactus Bowl


Kansas State (7-5) vs. UCLA (6-6), 8 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? The days of watching the Bruins underachieve are likely dwindling with Chip Kelly now at UCLA. Enjoy it while you can, Trojans fans.

Wednesday, Dec. 27

Independence Bowl

Shreveport, La.

Southern Mississippi (8-4) vs. Florida State (6-6), 12:30 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Find out how just how excited the Seminoles are to be in Shreveport.

Pinstripe Bowl

Bronx, N.Y.

Boston College (7-5) vs. Iowa (7-5), 4:15 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Does a collision between BC RB A.J. Dillon and Iowa LB Josey Jewell sound like an Aaron Judge home run in Yankee Stadium?

Foster Farms Bowl

Santa Clara, Calif.

Arizona (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6), 7:30 p.m., Fox-32

Why watch? Arizona QB Kahlil Tate and you don’t have to stay up past your bedtime or have the Pac-12 Network.

Texas Bowl


Texas (6-6) vs. Missouri (7-5), 8 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? You miss the old Big 12.

Thursday, Dec. 28

Military Bowl

Annapolis, Md.

Virginia (6-6) vs. Navy (6-5), 12:30 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? The NCAA only started keeping track of tackling statistics in 2000, but the FBS record for most in a game is 26. Cavaliers LB Micah Kiser against an option offense? Maybe.

Camping World Bowl

Orlando, Fla.

Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (9-3), 4:15 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? The first bowl matching Top 25 teams. It’s like breaking through the ‘wall’ while running a marathon. Except on your couch.

Alamo Bowl

San Antonio

Stanford (9-4) vs. TCU (10-3), 8 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Bryce Love has 12 runs of at least 50 yards this season. Only one other TEAM had that many in the regular season.

Holiday Bowl

San Diego

Washington State (9-3) vs. Michigan State (9-3), 8 p.m., Fox-32

Why watch? You might get relationship advice from Cougars coach Mike Leach .

Friday, Dec. 29

Belk Bowl

Charlotte, N.C.

Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5), noon, ESPN

Why watch? Did you know Texas A&M gave Jimbo Fisher a 10-year, $75 million contract? Well, you will after this game because we’re going to hear a lot about the Aggies new coach.

Sun Bowl

El Paso, Texas

NC State (8-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5), 2 p.m., Ch. 2

Why watch? Wolfpack All-America defensive end Bradley Chubb is a destroyer of offensive game plans, stealer of quarterback towels and has been known to break dance after victories . Total package.

Music City Bowl

Nashville, Tenn.

Kentucky (7-5) vs. Northwestern (9-3), 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Final game for Northwestern RB Justin Jackson, who at barely 200 pounds has 1,231 touches from scrimmage in his career, fourth-most in FBS history

Arizona Bowl

Tucson, Ariz.

New Mexico State (5-6) vs. Utah State (6-6), 4:30 p.m., CBSSN

Why watch? It has been 57 years since New Mexico State played in a bowl. And the last time was also against Utah State.

Cotton Bowl Classic

Arlington, Texas

USC (11-2) vs. Ohio State (11-2), 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Saturday, Dec. 30

TaxSlayer Bowl

Jacksonville, Fla.

Louisville (8-4) vs. Mississippi State (8-4), 11 a.m., ESPN

Why watch? We will miss Louisville’s Lamar Jackson when he is gone from college football and some bad NFL team is having him throw 3-yard outs on third-and-5.

Liberty Bowl

Memphis, Tenn.

Iowa State (7-5) vs. Memphis (10-2), 11:30 a.m., Ch. 7

Why watch? In a few years, when Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, 38, and Memphis’ Mike Norvell, 36, are coaching against each other in a playoff game, you can say, ‘Hey, I remember watching these guys in that Liberty Bowl.”

Fiesta Bowl

Glendale, Ariz.

Washington (10-2) vs. Penn State (10-2), 3 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Two tradition-rich programs meeting for just the third time. This is what bowls used to be.

Orange Bowl

Miami Gardens, Fla.

Wisconsin (12-1) vs. Miami (10-2), 7 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Turnover chain.

Monday, Jan. 1

Outback Bowl

Tampa, Fla.

Michigan (8-4) vs. South Carolina (8-4), 11 a.m., ESPN2

Why watch? Michigan could beat a team with a winning record for the first time this season. Or not.

Peach Bowl


UCF (12-0) vs. Auburn (10-3), 11:30 a.m., ESPN

Why watch? Either the Knights pull a Boise-type upset and claim they were playoff snubbed or they flop and all the Power Five snobs can say, “We told you so.”

Citrus Bowl

Orlando, Fla.

Notre Dame (9-3) vs. LSU (9-3), noon, Ch. 7

Why watch? If the Fighting Irish lose, somehow coach Brian Kelly will have directed a five-win turnaround and still managed to leave Notre Dame fans disappointed.

Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal)

Pasadena, Calif.

Oklahoma (12-1) vs. Georgia (12-1), 4:10 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma’s ridiculous offense vs. Roquan Smith and Georgia’s nasty defense.

Sugar Bowl (CFP Semifinal)

New Orleans

Clemson (12-1) vs. Alabama (11-1), 7:45 p.m., ESPN

Why watch? Did you see the last two times these teams played?

Monday, Jan. 8

College Football Championship


Rose Bowl winner vs. Sugar Bowl winner, 7 p.m., ESPN

Why watch: This is the last college football game until Labor Day weekend.

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