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December 07, 2018

December Play by Play: College Football Bowl Games to Watch

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‘Tis the season for bowl games! If you’re a college football fan, you know it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. But even the most die-hard fan would have a tough time watching all 41 bowl games, so here are is a roundup of the games that can’t be missed.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Middle Tennessee vs. Appalachian State

Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans

When to watch: December 14 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

This is the last game of Middle Tennessee quarterback Brent Stockstill’s college career playing for head coach Rick Stockstill, who happens to be his father. The Blue Raiders face a strong Appalachian State team that posted a 10-2 record on their way to becoming the Sun Belt champions.

Quick Lane Bowl

Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech

Where: Ford Field in Detroit

When to watch: December 26 at 5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are coming off an up-and-down season with an early win over Fresno State but two bad losses at Maryland and Nebraska. Coach P.J. Fleck shook things up late in the season with a change at defensive coordinator, and it paid off in victories over Purdue and Wisconsin. But Georgia Tech’s coach Paul Johnson will be retiring and taking his “flex-bone” (or, triple option) offense with him after this game. Look for the Jackets to play a tough game for their coach.

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

Baylor vs. Vanderbilt

Where: NRG Stadium in Houston

When to watch: December 27 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

Baylor pulled off a victory over Texas Tech in their last game of the season to become bowl eligible (at 6-6) for the eighth time in the last nine years. Derek Mason has led his Commodores to the same record with impressive wins over Mississippi and Arkansas in the homestretch. Mason is in his fifth year as head coach, and this will be the team’s second bowl appearance — pretty impressive, considering this will be their ninth bowl appearance of all time.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Purdue vs. Auburn

Where: Nissan Stadium in Nashville

When to watch: December 28 at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Purdue had a mediocre year at 6-6, but they put a legendary 49-20 beatdown on a strong Ohio State team that finished ranking sixth in the nation. Jeff Brohm is building an impressive program as head coach, and he added stability when he decided not to leave for the head coaching job at his alma mater, Louisville. Auburn was a preseason top 10-ranked team and their 7-5 record is a disappointment. Gus Malzahn may be coaching for his job at this game in Nashville. This is the first time these two programs have ever met.

Camping World Bowl

West Virginia vs. Syracuse

Where: Camping World Stadium in Orlando

When to watch: December 28 at 5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN

The Mountaineers and the Orangemen played every year from 1955–2012, so this is a renewal of a legendary college football rivalry. Both teams have high-powered offenses led by dynamic quarterbacks, namely Will Grier for West Virginia, and Eric Dungey for Syracuse. This may be the highest scoring bowl game of the season, and should be a lot of fun to watch.

Valero Alamo Bowl

Iowa State vs. Washington State

Where: Alamodome in San Antonio

When to watch: December 28 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

In another first-time matchup, the 13th ranked Washington State Cougars will travel to San Antonio to take on No. 24 Iowa State. Pirate-loving head coach Mike Leach is leading the Cougars to their fourth straight bowl appearance, and they should have their hands full with a well-coached Cyclones team (headed up by Matt Campbell). The Cyclones had more regulars season wins (eight overall), than they’ve had since 1978.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Florida vs. Michigan

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta

When to watch: December 29 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN

Michigan finished the season 10-2, but that second lost was a doozy, losing to Ohio State 62–39 to knock themselves out of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Florida is not the powerhouse of old, losing to Kentucky, Georgia and Missouri this year to finish 9–3. The biggest question is whether the Wolverines, the better team on paper, will show up after that debacle of a last game.

Belk Bowl

South Carolina vs. Virginia

Where: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina

When to watch: December 29 at 12 p.m. ET on ABC

This is the third time Virginia has been in the Belk Bowl, dating back to 2002 when it was called the Continental Tire Bowl. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall will have his hands full against Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks, which boasted a very productive offense this season. South Carolina could take advantage of a team that’s down after losing two games badly to end the year.

College Football Playoff semifinal ― Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

Notre Dame vs. Clemson

Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

When to watch: December 29 at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN

Notre Dame comes into the Cotton Bowl with a stout defense and an undefeated regular season. Ian Book is a strong quarterback who leads the Irish with a powerful arm that makes up for an average running game. Clemson has been to the playoffs four years in a row, and their star running back Travis Etienne may be the best back in the country. Any chance of a Notre Dame victory will have to come on the backs of their defense.

College Football Playoff semifinal ― Capital One Orange Bowl

Oklahoma vs. Alabama

Where: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami

When to watch: December 29 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN

The conventional argument all year has been that Alabama is so far ahead of the rest of college football that their road to the championship has already been paved. Well, the SEC championship game proved that other elite teams can play with them, as Georgia was in control over the Tide until the very end. Oklahoma has a high-scoring offense, but so does Alabama, and the Tide has a better defense. Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray will need to have the game of his life to beat the Tide in this one.

Hyundai Sun Bowl

Stanford vs. Pittsburgh

Where: Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas

When to watch: December 31 at 2 p.m. ET on CBS

What do these two teams have in common this year? They both lost to Notre Dame — although Pitt made a much better game of it, only losing by five, while Stanford lost by 21. Pitt boasts a run-heavy offense while the Cardinal like to toss it around to their wide receivers and big tight ends. If the Panthers can figure out a passing attack to add to their run game, they should do well against an average-at-best Stanford passing defense.

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

NC State vs. Texas A&M

Where: TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida

When to watch: December 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

This will be the fifth straight bowl appearance for head coach Dave Doeren and his NC State Wolfpack, and they will have their all they can handle against a strong Texas A&M team, led by head coach Jimbo Fisher. The Aggies finished the season with three straight wins, including that epic seven-overtime marathon victory over LSU. The Wolfpack have a decent offense and a not-so-good defense that may struggle against Aggie quarterback Kellen Mond and his solid receiving corps.

Outback Bowl

Mississippi State vs. Iowa

Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida

When to watch: January 1 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN2

The Iowa Hawkeyes started the year on fire, going 6–1 before dropping three straight games to Penn State, Purdue, and Northwestern. Iowa has a good defense led by talented quarterback Nathan Stanley, but Mississippi State has what many consider to be a great defense that could stand in the way.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

Louisiana State vs. University of Central Florida

Where: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona

When to watch: January 1 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN

When UCF lost their starting quarterback, McKenzie Milton, to a horrible leg injury in their game against USF, many thought it was the end of the team’s winning streak. After all, he had led the Golden Knights to victory in 24 straight games. But the team showed up for new QB Darriel Mack, Jr., to post their second undefeated season in a row by winning the ACC championship. However, LSU is a very talented team coming off that epic seven-overtime loss to Texas A&M. They may come out swinging and ready to prove a point.

Rose Bowl

Washington vs. Ohio State

Where: Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California

When to watch: January 1 at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN

Did anyone really see that Ohio State rout of Michigan coming? Is that the real Ohio State team, or is it the team that lost big to Purdue earlier in the season? This is the 105th playing of the Rose Bowl, but it will be Urban Meyer’s first as he hopes to lead the Buckeyes down the same road as he did over the Wolverines. It will also be his last, as he just announced he’s stepping down after the game. Washington’s defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake has built a squad that allowed fewer than 16 points per game this season. They are looking to stand tall against Ohio State’s high-powered offense.

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Texas vs. Georgia

Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans

When to watch: January 1 at 8:45 p.m. ET on ESPN

Texas lost to Oklahoma 39–27 in the Big 12 Championship game, and now the Sooners are in the playoffs. Georgia lost to Alabama 35–28 after leading or being tied most of the game in the SEC Championship game, and now the Tide is in the playoffs. So, is this going to be a matchup between two motivated teams or two disappointed teams? Both coaches, Kirby Smart at Georgia and Tom Herman at Texas, are well respected by their players, and both teams should come out ready to prove a point. Look for an excellent game down in New Orleans.

The bowl games are the lead up to the grand finale of the season – the college football playoffs. Whether you make time in your holiday schedule for only a few of these matchups, or you make it your mission to catch them all, Xfinity has you covered.

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