It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
No, not Christmas. We’re talking about college football bowl season. That lovely month-long stretch when you find out Redbox not only still exists but also sponsors a bowl game between the Pac-12 and the Big 10 (shoutout Oregon and Michigan State).
This bowl season, as usual, is an entertaining mix of must-see matchups and complete dumpster fires. So, let’s dive in.
Here are the best and worst bowl matchups of the 2018 season:
Orange Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Oklahoma at 8 p.m. ET, on Dec. 29
Let’s get this one out of the way. Nick Saban’s machine against Heisman winner Kyler Murray and the best statistical offense in NCAA history should be full of fireworks. The Tide narrowly avoided Baker Mayfield and the Sooners last year in the playoffs but they’ll have no such reprieve this year. Good luck, Saint Nick.
Rose Bowl: No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Washington at 5 p.m., on Jan. 1
It’s Urban Meyer’s last game as a collegiate head coach, at least until he gets bored of his family and finds another Tier 1 program at which to win national championships. Bidding farewell to one of the sport’s biggest villains in an iconic setting is a reason to grab your popcorn.
Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame at 4 p.m. ET, on Dec. 29
The other College Football Playoff semifinal features two of the best defenses in the game, but both teams also are damn efficient on offense. While some were critical of Notre Dame being included in the playoff, the Irish have what it takes to at least give Clemson some issues early on.
Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona State vs. Fresno State at 3:30 p.m. ET, on Dec. 15
Herm Edwards in Vegas, need we say more? The Sun Devils outperformed expectations in Edwards’ first season but they’ll face one of the best Group of Five teams in the country in Jeff Tedford’s Bulldogs. This one should be fun.
Fiesta Bowl: No. 11 LSU vs. No. 8 UCF at 1 p.m. ET, on Jan. 1
Despite quarterback McKenzie Milton suffering a season-ending injury, UCF’s high-flying offense still was able to overpower Memphis in the AAC Championship Game. Will the Knights be able to put up points on LSU? And will they be able to stop the Tigers’ running game? We can’t wait to find out.
Redbox Bowl: Oregon vs. Michigan State at 3 p.m. ET, on Dec. 31
NFL prospect Justin Herbert faces a stout Michigan State defense on New Year’s Eve. What more could you ask for?
Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 15 Texas at 8:45 p.m. ET, on Jan. 1
On paper this could be fun, but it remains to be seen how much the Bulldogs will want to be there after blowing a 14-point lead against Alabama to narrowly miss the playoff. Georgia’s strengths match up well with Texas’ weaknesses, but never bet against Tom Herman as an underdog.
Alamo Bowl: No. 24 Iowa State vs. No. 13 Washington State at 9 p.m. ET, on Dec. 28
This bowl game always is a wild ride, and there’s no reason to think there won’t be points galore when the Cyclones and Cougars meet in San Antonio. Buckle up.
Cheez-It Bowl: California vs. TCU at 9 p.m. ET, on Dec. 26
Look, we know you’ll be sick of your family by Dec. 26, but there’s no need to watch what likely will be a rock fight between two subpar offenses.
Pinstripe Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Miami at 5:15 p.m. ET, on Dec. 27
We saw this game last year, and it ended with the Badgers walking all over the Hurricanes. There’s no reason for that to change this winter in Yankee Stadium.
Sun Bowl: Stanford vs. Pittsburgh at 2 p.m. ET, on Dec. 31
Spend the early part of New Year’s Eve not watching this punt fest.
Camping World Bowl: No. 16 West Virginia vs. No. 20 Syracuse at 5:15 p.m. ET, on Dec. 28
This one was on the best list until West Virginia quarterback Will Grier announced he would not be playing. We can’t blame him. No reason to waste millions of dollars for the Camping World Bowl.
Peach Bowl: No. 10 Florida vs. No. 7 Michigan at 12 p.m. ET on Dec. 29
You’re probably wondering how a game between two top-10 teams is on the worst list. Look, this game will be close and not all that thrilling. These defenses should have no trouble stopping the opposing offenses which will leave a little to be desired in the entertainment section. Plus, last time we saw Michigan it was getting the brakes beat off it by Ohio State, so maybe we just have a bad taste in our mouths.
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