College Football Bowl Games Preview, TV Schedule — December 19-25
Directional schools. Corporate sponsors you’ve never heard of. Teams with sub-.500 records playing in the postseason. But you’re still glued to the TV. Must be the first week of bowl season.
Here’s your rundown of the upcoming week of bowl games (all times Eastern):
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Dec. 19 at 2:00 PM (ESPN)
Arizona (6-6) vs. New Mexico (7-5)
The Lobos will be playing on their home field in their first bowl game since 2007. After a ten-win season last year, the Wildcats struggled with a multitude of injuries this season and needed an upset of then-No. 10 Utah just to become bowl eligible. Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon missed the regular season finale against Arizona State with a concussion but is expected to start the bowl game.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 19 at 3:30 PM (ABC)
BYU (9-3) vs. No. 22 Utah (9-3)
It’s not often you get bowl game matchups with a long history between rivals, but they don’t get much more heated than this. Utah holds a 57-34-4 lead in the all-time series and has won five of the last six matchups. But this will be the first time the two teams have met in a bowl game.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Dec. 19 at 5:30 PM (ESPN)
Ohio (8-4) vs. Appalachian State (10-2)
Once the darlings of the FCS, Appalachian State has shown it can compete on the big stage and is appearing in its first FBS bowl game. They’ll face a streaky Ohio team that started the year 5-1 but dropped three in a row before recovering with three straight wins to end the regular season.
Autonation Cure Bowl
Dec. 19 at 7:00 PM (CBSSN)
San Jose State (5-7) vs. Georgia State (6-6)
If you’re watching this game, either (a) you’re an alum of one of the schools or have a son who is on the team, (b) your remote doesn’t work and is stuck on this channel or (c) you really need to seek help for your chronic gambling addiction.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Dec. 19 at 9:00 PM (ESPN)
Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)
After losing three of their first four games (including two to ranked teams), the Red Wolves rebounded to close the season with eight straight Sun Belt Conference wins. The Arkansas State defense leads the nation with 34 forced turnovers. Louisiana Tech is making back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 1977-78.
Miami Beach Bowl
Dec. 21 at 2:30 (ESPN)
Western Kentucky (11-2) vs. South Florida (8-4)
A year ago, this bowl was marred by a bench-clearing brawl between BYU and Memphis. This year, we hopefully won’t see a similar outcome as South Florida coach Willie Taggart takes on the Hilltopper team he coached from 2010-12. Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty leads the nation in passing touchdowns and was named MVP of Conference USA for the second straight year.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Dec. 22 at 3:30 PM (ESPN)
Akron (7-5) vs. Utah State (6-6)
Akron is making just its second bowl appearance in history and first in ten years. The Zips are seeking their first-ever bowl win against a Utah State squad that is making its fifth consecutive bowl trip and is 9-2 all-time against MAC opponents.
Marmot Boca Raton Bowl
Dec. 22 at 7:00 PM (ESPN)
No. 24 Temple (10-3) vs. Toledo (9-2)
All eyes will be on Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich, the Nagurski and Bednarik Award winner who leads the nation with 481 career tackles. He’ll lead the Owls in their first bowl game in four years against a Toledo squad appearing in its fifth bowl in six seasons. A win here would secure Temple’s first Top 25 finish since 1979.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Dec. 23 at 4:30 PM (ESPN)
Boise State (8-4) vs. Northern Illinois (8-5)
Two of the nation’s winningest programs from outside the Power 5 conferences will square off for the first time. Both teams are coming in off of disappointing (by their standards) eight-win seasons and are looking to end on a high note. The Broncos have won five of their last six bowl games while Northern Illinois has lost three straight bowls.
Dec. 23 at 8:00 PM (ESPN)
Georgia Southern (8-4) vs. Bowling Green (10-3)
Georgia Southern is making its first bowl appearance in just its second year at the FBS level. But the Eagles will face a tough task against a Bowling Green squad seeking its second consecutive bowl victory and first 11-win season in 12 years.
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
Dec. 24 at 12:00 PM (ESPN)
Middle Tennessee (7-5) vs. Western Michigan (7-5)
Western Michigan is just two years removed from a 1-11 campaign, so making a bowl game is reason to celebrate. But the Broncos are still seeking their first-ever bowl win (0-6 thus far). This week they’ll be tested by a Middle Tennessee squad that comes in riding a four-game winning streak. While this game will be hard-pressed to live up to last year’s wild version, it should be another exciting matchup with lots of points and passing yards.
Dec. 24 at 8:00 PM (ESPN)
San Diego State (10-3) vs. Cincinnati (7-5)
Look for the Aztecs to pound the ball, as San Diego State ranks 15th nationally in rushing yards per game while the Bearcat defense has given up an average 5.02 yards per rush. After missing out on the postseason last year, the Aztecs are after their second straight bowl win. Cincinnati, despite two previous nine-win seasons, is 0-2 in bowl games under Tommy Tuberville.