Non-New Year's Six Bowls
Bahamas Bowl (December 16, 11 AM ET, ESPN, Conference USA vs. MAC):
Liberty vs. Ohio
New Orleans Bowl (December 16, 2:15 PM ET, ESPN, Conference USA vs. Sun Belt):
UTEP vs. Coastal Carolina
Cure Bowl (Orlando, FL) (December 16, 3:30 PM ET, ABC, Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Eastern Michigan vs. South Alabama
New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM) (December 16, 5:45 PM ET, ESPN, Mountain West vs. Group of Five):
New Mexico State vs. San Diego State
The Conference USA bowl race will be strange. At the start of the 2020-2025 bowl cycle, the then 14-team conference received seven bowl slots. Now the conference has nine members at the start of the 2023 season. To make matters even more ridiculous, two schools, Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State are ineligible for bowl games since it is their first year at the FBS level. Hypothetically, all-seven bowl eligible Conference USA teams could make a bowl.
These are a few of my favorite picks. The Bahamas Bowl could pick a team that has never been to the bowl and Liberty is the first that comes to mind. This could create one of the more high-powered bowl matchups of the postseason against MAC frontrunner, Ohio. Since Western Kentucky went to the New Orleans Bowl this paves the way for UTEP to go to the New Orleans Bowl, its first bowl outside of New Mexico since 2005. And what better stage is there for Grayson McCall to end his college career than the Superdome? If the New Mexico Bowl does not select New Mexico State, I will be left speechless.
LA Bowl (December 16, 7:30 PM ET, ABC, Mountain West #1 vs. PAC-12 #6):
Air Force vs. Utah
Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA) (December 16, 9:15 PM ET, ESPN, PAC-12 #7 vs. Big 12 #7):
TCU vs. Marshall*
*Sun Belt has a backup tie-in should either the Big 12 or PAC12 not send a team. Marshall filling this spot would be historic as it would be the first-ever bowl game between a Sun Belt team and a Power Five team in the conference’s history.
Myrtle Beach Bowl (December 18, 2:30 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Georgia Southern vs. East Carolina
Frisco Bowl (Frisco, TX) (December 19, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Toledo vs. SMU
Boca Raton Bowl (December 21, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Memphis vs. Houston
Gasparilla Bowl (December 22, 6:30 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five/AAC/ACC/SEC):
Western Kentucky vs. Louisville
Birmingham Bowl(December 23,12:00 PM ET, ABC, Group of Five vs. Group of Five/AAC/ACC/SEC)
UTSA vs. Texas A&M
The AAC and Conference USA’s heavyweights draw solid matchups with Power Fives. Since ESPN curates the matchups for these two games, in-state matchups make sense here. Western Kentucky will look to beat Louisville for the first time since 1975, while UTSA seeks its first win against the Aggies in three tries.
Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, AL) (December 23, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN, Sun Belt vs. MAC):
Northern Illinois vs. Southern Miss
Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, TX) (December 23, 3:30 PM ET, ABC, Army/Mountain West/AAC vs. Big 12 #8):
Army vs. Fresno State
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise, ID) (December 23, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN, Mountain West vs. MAC):
UNLV vs. Miami (OH)
68 Ventures Bowl (Mobile, AL) (December 23, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five):
Troy vs. Northern Illinois
Las Vegas Bowl (December 23, 7:30 PM ET, ESPN, PAC-12 #3 vs. Big Ten #4):
Minnesota vs. Washington State
Hawaii Bowl (December 23, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN, Mountain West vs. AAC):
Wyoming vs. North Texas
Believe it or not, the Mountain West bowl picture starts in Hawaii. Obviously, traveling to the islands is a major undertaking for any athletic department, so the Mountain West looks to benefit the teams with their selection. Teams who have appeared recently and those that play road games at Hawaii during the season are virtually eliminated. As a result, do not expect San Jose State, Nevada, Colorado State, Air Force, or San Diego State to play in this game.
North Texas desperately needs a change of pace during bowl season, appearing in the Frisco Football Classic and Frisco Bowl the past two seasons. The Hawaii Bowl is a breath of fresh air for Mean Green fans.
Quick Lane Bowl (December 26, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN, MAC vs. Big Ten #8):
Central Michigan vs. UConn
Death, taxes, and the Big Ten not being able to send a team to the Quick Lane Bowl. A Big Ten school has not appeared in the Quick Lane Bowl since 2018. Independent UConn, without a set bowl tie-in, benefits here.
First Responder Bowl(December 26, 5:30 PM ET, ESPN, Group of Five vs. Group of Five/Big 12):
Buffalo vs. Louisiana
Guaranteed Rate Bowl (December 26, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN, Big Ten #7 vs. Big 12 #6)
Illinois vs. BYU
Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD) (December 27, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN, ACC vs. AAC):
Navy vs. Wake Forest
Shockingly, Navy has not appeared in their home stadium’s bowl since 2017, instead going to the Liberty Bowl in their last bowl season in 2019. The two schools have 12 meetings in a series that dates back to 1929.
Duke’s Mayo Bowl (Charlotte, NC)(December 27, 5:30 PM ET, ESPN, ACC vs. SEC):
Duke vs. Mississippi State
Duke is the North Carolina team of the year for the Mayo Bowl, having not appeared in the bowl since 2012, back when it was the Belk Bowl.
Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA) (December 27, 8:00 PM ET, FOX, PAC-12 #4 vs. ACC):
Notre Dame vs. Washington
The Holiday Bowl wanted Notre Dame badly last year. This year they will get their wish. Washington could be just on the outside of the New Year’s Six and Notre Dame will likely be ranked during bowl season, making this arguably the best bowl outside of the New Year’s Six.
Texas Bowl (Houston, TX) (December, 27, 9:00 PM ET, ESPN, SEC vs. Big 12 #4):
Arkansas vs. Oklahoma
Fenway Bowl (Boston, MA) (December 28, 11:00 AM ET, ESPN, ACC vs. AAC):
Syracuse vs. Tulane
A strong season sends Tulane to the Fenway Bowl to play its proposed 1990 Metro Conference mate, Syracuse. The two have nine meetings since 1975 and the Green Wave will seek their first win against ‘Cuse since 1990.
Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx, NY) (December 28, 2:15 PM ET, ACC vs. Big Ten):
Pitt vs. Iowa
Pop Tarts Bowl (Orlando, FL) (December 28, 5:45 PM ET, ACC vs. Big 12 #3):
Miami vs. UCF
The Pop Tarts Bowl choosing the obvious popular geographic pick could send solid teams like Kansas State and brand-names such as Oklahoma down the Big 12 bowl selection order. However, a UCF-Miami matchup is too easy to pass up. The Knights' fight for bragging rights in Florida draws fans in as the 2021 Gasparilla Bowl featuring Florida and UCF drew a sellout crowd.
Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX) (December 28, 9:15 PM ET, PAC-12 #2 vs. Big 12 #2):
UCLA vs. Texas Tech
Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL) (December 29, 12:00 PM ET, SEC vs. ACC):
Ole Miss vs. NC State
Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX) (December 29, 2:00 PM ET, ACC vs. PAC-12 #5):
UNC vs. Oregon State
Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN) (December 29, 3:30 PM ET, SEC vs. Big 12 #5):
Oklahoma vs. Kentucky
Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) (December 30, 2:00 PM ET, SEC vs. Big Ten)
Arkansas vs. Wisconsin
Arizona Bowl (Tucson, AZ) (December 30, 4:30 PM ET, Barstool, MAC vs. Mountain West)
Ball State vs. San Diego State
Reliaquest Bowl (Tampa, FL) (January 1, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN, SEC vs. Big Ten #3):
Nebraska vs. Florida
While Nebraska may not have the strongest record, I do expect them to return to bowl season. The path to a name-brand face-off combined with Nebraska's bowl drought that dates back to 2016, could make the Cornhuskers too irresistable.
Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL) (January 1, 1:00 PM ET, ABC, SEC vs. Big Ten #2):
Tennessee vs. Maryland
New Year’s Six:
Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) (December 29, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN)
Texas vs. Penn State
Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA) (December 30, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN)
Ohio State vs. LSU
Orange Bowl (Miami, FL) (December 30, 4:00 PM ET)
Clemson vs. Alabama
Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ) (January 1, 1:00 PM ET, ESPN)
Oregon vs. Boise State
Boise State in the New Year's Six paves the way for Air Force to take the LA Bowl slot. The Air Force Academy playing a Power Five team in front of an ABC audience is a recipe for high ratings.
College Football Playoff Semifinals
Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) (January 1, 5:00 PM ET, ESPN)
#2 Michigan vs. #3 USC
Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) (January 1, 8:45 PM ET, ESPN)
#1 Georgia vs. #4 Florida State