Everett: Ranking the Top-10 bowl games
Joe Everett | Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Believe it or not, college football bowl season is merely 10 days away. There’s nothing quite like spending your Christmas break kicking back, drinking some eggnog and watching college-age dudes trying to salvage some extra meaning to all the work they’ve put in throughout the entire year. With 40 extra games of college football to look forward to, here are my rankings for the Top-10 bowl games you should make sure to watch this holiday season (excluding the Playoff games, obviously).
Note: factors considered include special storylines, individual stars, potential for craziness, team momentum and many more.
10. QUICK LANE BOWL: MINNESOTA VS. GEORGIA TECH (DEC. 26, 5:15 P.M. ET)
This will be the last college football game that Paul Johnson coaches, as the Georgia Tech head coach is set to retire after 11 seasons with the Yellow Jackets. If my colleague Ryan Kolakowski’s proposal comes to fruition, you won’t want to miss the famous Georgia Tech triple option before it’s gone — it’s a lot of fun to watch. On the opposite side, Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck has the Minnesota program trending in the right direction in his second year there — a bowl win would add another building block.
9. BIRMINGHAM BOWL: MEMPHIS VS. WAKE FOREST (DEC. 22, NOON ET)
The potential for an extremely fun shootout is here, as Memphis averaged over 43 points per game behind running back Darrell Henderson, the nation’s leader with 2,204 yards from scrimmage, and put up 38 on UCF in the first half of the ACC championship. Additionally, Wake Forest runs one of the fastest offenses in the country and just put up 59 against Duke. Here we go.
8. SUN BOWL: STANFORD VS. PITT (DEC. 31, 2 P.M. ET)
This will be a battle of like-minded teams that love to grind down their opponents. Pitt nearly ran for 500 yards against Virginia Tech, and Stanford will feature the exciting Bryce Love for the final time. I could see this game easily going down the wire.
7. REDBOX BOWL: MICHIGAN STATE VS. OREGON (DEC. 31, 3 P.M. ET)
In a matchup of quality programs with quality players that will be played in Levi Stadium — the sight of the national championship game — be sure to tune in and watch Oregon’s Justin Herbert, who could be the first QB off the board in the 2019 NFL draft. His matchup with a daunting Michigan State defense is intriguing; plus, you never know what Mark Dantonio will do, or what uniforms Oregon will wear.
6. ALAMO BOWL: IOWA STATE VS. WASHINGTON STATE (DEC. 28, 9 P.M. ET)
Iowa State is a really good team, and it’s absolutely worth watching to see Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew’s last college game. Inside the Alamodome, this has big shootout potential. Plus, Mike Leach will be there for an amazing interview at some point.
5. PEACH BOWL: MICHIGAN VS. FLORIDA (DEC. 29, NOON ET)
This will be the third time in four seasons that Michigan and Florida have faced off — both previous games resulting in Michigan victories. With talent on defense all over the field for both teams, this’ll be a physical, intense game. Which offense can make more plays, or make less mistakes? If you like defense, tune in.
4. SUGAR BOWL: TEXAS VS. GEORGIA (JAN. 1, 8:45 P.M. ET)
This one could be higher. Georgia barely missed the playoff, so how motivated will the Bulldogs be for this consolation game? Texas is a talented team and would love to cement themselves as “back” with a win over an SEC powerhouse. There will be stars aplenty in this one.
3. CAMPING WORLD BOWL: WEST VIRGINIA VS. SYRACUSE (DEC. 28, 5:15 P.M. ET)
If you like touchdowns, be sure to kick back and watch the fireworks in Orlando. West Virginia and Syracuse both average over 40 points per game and are led by dynamic senior QBs in Will Grier and Eric Dungey. This has shootout written all over it.
2. FIESTA BOWL: LSU VS. UCF (JAN. 1, 1 P.M. ET)
Snubbed from the playoff after another perfect season, UCF will face the biggest threat yet to its winning streak (now at 25 games) on New Year’s Day. The Knights will be fired up to once again prove they can beat a top SEC program, and LSU features a lot of NFL talent. Even without McKenzie Milton and Greedy Williams playing, this one should be awesome.
1. ROSE BOWL: WASHINGTON VS. OHIO STATE (JAN. 1, 5 P.M. ET)
“The Granddaddy of Them All” pits an explosive Ohio State offense against Washington’s fantastic defense. Dwayne Haskins versus Jake Browning. Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins against Myles Gaskin. The setting is always incredible, and this’ll have an additional storyline after Urban Meyer announced that he is allegedly stepping down from coaching after this season. Should be exciting.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.