The college football bowl season is less than two weeks away, and fans across the country are anxiously awaiting the chance to see their team play one last time.
Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Alabama all clinched their spots in the College Football Playoff on Sunday.
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) December 3, 2017
While the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will surely garner the majority of attention this holiday season, there is no shortage of bowl games worth watching.
From the Boca Raton Bowl to the Idaho Potato Bowl, there a plenty of intriguing storylines to draw college football fans this December. Below are the top 10 bowl games to watch outside of the College Football Playoff:
10. Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs. Memphis (Dec. 30)
The Cyclones are coming off their best season since 2005. Iowa State second-year head coach Matt Campbell would like nothing more than to lead the program to their first bowl win since 2009. Memphis, on the other hand, is coming off a devastating double-overtime loss to UCF in the AAC Championship Game. Tigers senior quarterback Riley Ferguson trails only Mason Rudolph and Baker Mayfield in terms of passing yards in the FBS this season.
9. Holiday Bowl: Michigan State vs. Washington State (Dec. 28)
The Spartans ninth ranked defense faces a well-rounded Cougars team this bowl season. Washington State head coach Mike Leach will look for his senior quarterback Luke Falk to end his historic career with a Cougars win in San Diego. Both teams finished the season with 9-3 records.
8. TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville vs. Mississippi State (Dec. 30)
This game could have easily cracked the top five had Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald remained healthy. But even without Fitzgerald, the TaxSlayer Bowl is surely worth watching. The Bulldogs 10th ranked defense will look to slow down Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is coming off a second consecutive season with 3,000 plus passing yards and 1,000 plus rushing yards.
7. Alamo Bowl: TCU vs. Stanford (Dec. 28)
The Pac-12 runner-up against the Big 12 runner-up should make an exciting bowl game. Stanford lost three games by field goal or less in 2017, including a 31-28 loss to USC in the Pac-12 title game. Both programs have wins against Top 25 teams on their resume and are led by two of the premier head coaches in college football.
6. Camping World Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Virginia Tech (Dec. 28)
Mason Rudolph against the Hokies 12th ranked defense is a must-watch game. The Cowboys senior quarterback leads the FBS in passing yards (4,553) and has thrown 35 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Virginia Tech’s defense has allowed just 20 offensive touchdowns this season and have held six opponents to 10 points or fewer in 2017.
5. Citrus Bowl: Notre Dame vs. LSU (Jan. 1)
If you like physical smash-mouth football, then the Citrus Bowl is the game for you. LSU and Notre Dame will travel to Orlando with 9-3 records, and both programs feature two future NFL running backs in Derrius Guice and Josh Adams. There will be plenty of future NFL talent on the field in this bowl game, but quarterback play could be the difference maker. The Tigers and Irish last met in the Music City Bowl in 2014.
4. Orange Bowl: Miami vs. Wisconsin (Dec. 30)
The Hurricanes trailed only Wyoming in turnover margin (+15) this season, but the Badgers finished the 2017 season with FBS’ best defense in terms of yards allowed. Both Miami and Wisconsin controlled their own destinies entering their respective conference title games, and both will be looking to end their season on a high note after missing the College Football Playoff.
3. Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs. Washington (Dec. 30)
The Huskies fifth ranked defense will look to slow down the Nittany Lions and star running back Saquon Barkley in Arizona. Washington’s defense is loaded with talent with players like Vita Vea and Tevis Bartlett leading the way. While Barkley will surely be the biggest name in this bowl game, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley and Washington quarterback Jake Browning have both shown the ability to take over a game.
2. Peach Bowl: Auburn vs. Central Florida (Jan. 1)
Can the undefeated AAC program knock off this year’s SEC West division winner? The Tigers handled both Georgia and Alabama in the final three weeks of the regular season before falling to the Bulldogs in the SEC title game. All-SEC Offensive Player of the Year Kerryon Johnson leads the way for Auburn, while UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton has flown under the radar despite an incredible sophomore season. The Knights averaged 49.4 points per game this season. Auburn, on the other hand, has given up an average of 17.3 points per game. If you like to cheer for the underdog, or just want to see two of the best teams in college football, the Peach Bowl shouldn’t disappoint.
1. Cotton Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC (Dec. 29)
No surprise here, the Big Ten champ against the Pac-12 champ. The two Power Five conferences held out of the College Football Playoff will meet at AT&T Stadium for one of the most highly anticipated bowl games of the holiday season. Both teams are loaded with future NFL talent, including Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold. Should Darnold elect to enter the 2018 NFL Draft most analysts project him to be a top five selection. But the Buckeyes and senior quarterback J.T. Barrett have their own plans for this year’s Cotton Bowl. Ohio State has won four straight following their crushing road loss to Iowa, while the Trojans carry a five-game winning streak with them to Jerry World.